Rustic Charm, Modern Influence


Rustic design elements are timeless and create warm inviting environments when used in architecture and interior design. I recently had a reader ask how to brighten up the rustic look, combining rustic charm with modern lines and color. I also have several clients who contemplate painting their exposed wood beams and wood paneling trying to figure out if they should paint them, leave them natural or stain them. Above, the kitchen is the heart of the home and the perfect place to add rustic influences. Currently 95% of the kitchens I am designing are white so the infusion of natural wood beams and accents bring instant warmth and character among the white wood cabinets. A wide plank floor in a natural wood finish adds to the charm.


Adding a twist of modern to a rustic home with sleek furniture choices, light walls and stained beams. The lines of the cabinetry are simple and clean against the rustic wood floor and dramatic beams. There are no rules when creating a rustic modern interior, it just needs to feel right to you. To paint the beams or not to paint the beams? When the beams are stained a color, a dark finish or left natural they become a design detail. The question should be, “do I want the beams to become a design detail and a wow factor in the room or do I want them to blend in?”


If the answer is to blend in, then painting the beams and ceiling both white might be the right option for you. Above, an eclectic setting combines rustic charm with modern elegance, just lovely. A sleek modern dining table is paired with a vintage bench and rustic glam chandelier to complete the look. Below, leaving the exposed wood ceiling and beams natural creates a dramatic design feature. When you have a cathedral ceiling leaving the natural wood tone helps the space to feel more cozy.


If you are looking for the beams to become a focal point another option is to blend these two ideas together, painting the ceiling and not the beams, this is a favorite of mine. Bringing just the right amount of wow factor to the room without distracting from the other design details. Below, this fabulous great room is from The Southern Living Showhouse, tour the rest of the house here. Are you a fan of painting or staining the wood beams? Painting the walls white brings a bright, clean modern feel to the room and the contrast to the dark beams can be stunning.


Infusing rustic charm can be as simple as adding a reclaimed lumber floor with doors and windows in a dark trim, it doesn’t mean every design choice screams log cabin. You can add rustic modern charm to any style home through an eclectic blend of architectural details, finishes and furniture. I hope we have inspired you to consider the possibilities of adding character to your home through rustic design details and choices, share your design journey with us, we would love to hear about it.


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  • Kate

    You are so right on, adding some rustic charm really warms up the space. Love those dark, wide plank wood floors in your last example .

    • Cathy Wolfram

      I am using a lot of the wide plank floors, love that look to :)

  • gidget

    Please tell me where you got the cream with black swirl designs dining arm chair? Also the rustic glam chandelier?