Finding a balance between old and new design styles is never easy, but the payoff is often unrivaled. Without proper planning, rustic design schemes can feel dated and kitschy, while modern looks can be difficult to bring to life. But the combination of modern and rustic creates a sophisticated yet lived-in look that designers love.
As with any style, it’s important to get the color scheme down before diving into a redesign. Incorporating the natural, earthy colors of rustic alongside the stark, simple hues of modern, this color scheme is refined and timeless. Here’s what designers have to say about achieving the modern rustic style and what colors to include.
What is modern rustic design?
Modern rustic offers a happy medium between two classic looks, and its versatility stands the test of time. Using the sleek style of contemporary design with touches of the natural textures and materials of rustic, modern rustic balances the brand-new with the well-loved. Updating the rustic look with modern materials makes for an elegant and eye-catching home.
‘Forge a timeless yet refreshed ambiance by infusing earthy tones into your contemporary space. Steering clear of transient interior design trends, you can achieve a classic, enduring aesthetic while incorporating subtle changes,’ says interior designer Rushda Hakim.
How to achieve a modern rustic color scheme
The concept of modern rustic is hard to beat, but putting it into practice can be quite challenging. For general rules to follow and specific paint colors to pick up, we spoke with interior designers about getting the modern rustic look right. Here are four of their favorite tips.
1. Start with a warm- or cool-toned base
It’s always important to start with a solid canvas, and color schemes are no exception. ‘Keeping colors up to date in rustic design focuses on the tone of the color rather than the actual color used,’ says Stefania Skrabak, principal designer at AHG Interiors.
Arianna Barone, color marketing manager at Benjamin Moore, agrees and suggests deciding between a warm-toned or cool-toned base before adding in your accents.
If you tend toward ‘warmer off-whites and relaxed neutrals,’ Arianna suggests starting with a shade like ‘Cloud White OC-130, Sail Cloth OC-142 or Inner Balance 1522. From there, you’ll have free reign to add modern furnishings and deeper accents – Black Ink 2127-20 and Wrought Iron 2124-10 are great options for smaller pops,’ says Arianna.
On the other hand, neutral paints with cooler undertones offer minimalistic bases, allowing for more rustic layering later on. With the solid foundation of a cool-toned background, textural details, greenery, and a deeper brown or gray accent offer the warmth that any space craves.
‘Cooler grays, like Vapor Trails 1556, are a color palette staple in modern design as shown in this dining room. By pairing them with natural materials and warmer colors, like Simply White OC-117 and Black Bean Soup 2130-10, the space goes from modern to modern rustic,’ says Arianna.
2. Opt for a black-and-white base
Modern rustic doesn’t always need to stray on the side of beige, though. For those looking for a slightly bolder representation of modern rustic design, opt for a black-and-white base. Arianna says this classic choice is popular in modern design schemes, and provides the perfect backdrop for rustic add-ons.
‘In this kitchen, Onyx 2133-10 and White Heron OC-57 create perfect symmetry. Meanwhile, the wood kitchen cabinets and furniture help bring a more relaxed look to this modern rustic space,’ she says.
3. Add in intentional accents
Once you’ve decided on your space’s background hues, it’s time to get creative with accents and accessories. According to Stefania, the rustic look has shifted toward warm beiges and grays, and away from cooler-toned alternatives.
The best way to integrate this color trend – regardless of when it was originally designed – is to stick to cozy, earthy accessories throughout the room. Stefania recommends warm-toned pillows, artwork, accent chairs and coffee tables to really bring a space to life.
‘Bringing in a warm-toned rug in a warm neutral is an easy addition with a big impact. Don’t feel afraid to bring in beige, the new white, with a splash of gold metal or a brushed nickel instead of the outdated black or iron,’ says Stefania.
With experience in interior design, horticulture, building and metalwork, Stefania leads AHG Interiors, a New York-based design firm that caters to residential and commercial clients.
4. Experiment with earth tones and charcoal gray
Earth-inspired hues like rust, terracotta and sage green are rustic design staples that’ll never go out of style, says Rushda. They’re easy to use with different shades of wood and neutral backdrops and add a warm, homey atmosphere.
‘These colors form a harmonious union with both dark and light wood shades, providing a versatile backdrop for your space. Opt for lighter neutral wall colors to create a balanced and inviting atmosphere,’ says Rushda.
And for a unique color choice that won’t overpower your modern rustic space, Rushda suggests charcoal gray. Featured in this modern bedroom, classy touches of charcoal gray appear in throw pillows, artwork and a side table.
‘This nuanced addition acts as a refined accent, ensuring a contemporary edge while maintaining a gentle harmony with the earthy foundation,’ she says.
Rushda is an award-winning interior designer with training in Mumbai and London. She now owns her own women-led firm in New York City.
Though finding a balance between modern and rustic interior design styles can be quite challenging, these expert-approved color scheme tips will bring your space a long way. A combination of neutral base colors and deep, warm accents will create the perfect blend between high-class and homey.