Classic interior design styles and how to light them – Modern Rustic

Modern rustic is seriously in right now… But what is it, how do you do it - and most importantly, how do you light it? Here’s everything you need to know… If any interior design style could be said to be having a moment, right here, right now, it has to be modern rustic. It even has its very own style bookazine, Modern Rustic, a Country Living Special, published by Hearst. But what exactly is modern rustic and why is it so popular now? If you like the look, we’ll show you how to make it work in your home. We’ve also put together some Pooky recommendations so that you can light up your modern rustic home to best effect.


Guy Mallinson's Treehouse - with Pooky's Wisteria lamp

What is modern rustic style?

Simple and unadorned

Let’s start with the second element - rustic - which means something that has the simplicity and charm of the countryside. A log cabin isn’t obligatory, although wood certainly features frequently in the modern rustic interior. It can mean older, rather than newer, plain and unadorned, and natural rather than highly finished. Rustic could be a piece of old furniture, with a rough or distressed finish but, given that we are talking about modern rustic, it could also be a new piece of craft pottery, a natural wool blanket, or a seagrass floor covering.


Welsh wool blankets from FelinFach

A touch of the vernacular

Modern rustic is also surprisingly versatile and every country has its own version that draws on national rustic styles and artefacts. So a modern rustic interior in, say, Mexico, will look a little different than it would in a Cornish seaside cottage, a Swedish forest lodge, a Spanish finca, or a Puglian trullo.


Trullo Gaura, Puglia, Italy. Image: The Thinking Traveller

Neutral colours first

The modern rustic palette is decidedly neutral - soft browns, creams, greys, and white, of course. You can add colour but not too much and go gently; the emphasis with modern rustic is on the warm and welcoming, not the dramatic or overwhelming. Here’s a good colour palette to give the idea.


Bedroom at Artist Residence Oxfordshire (with Pooky bedside lamp and shade). Image: Artist Residence.

Why is modern rustic so popular right now?

There’s something about modern rustic that speaks to our current concerns about sustainability: it isn't wasteful; it celebrates the natural, and there’s an emphasis on taking care and repurposing. At the same time, it encourages us to celebrate the work of contemporary designers and craftspeople. It’s the perfect look if you love spending time at home, reading, doing, making, and being comfortable in your own surroundings. There’s definitely a hint of hygge about modern rustic.

Modern rustic - room by room

This modern rustic hallway is a classic combination of one or two carefully chosen contemporary pieces set against simple wooden furniture, exposed ceiling beams painted white, natural floor coverings and a grey and white neutral colour palette


Image credit: My Wall Decors
White-painted ceiling beams are also a feature of this modern rustic cottage kitchen in the Cotswolds, as are natural textures. Accessories include a selection of antique glass containers and simple carved wooden bowls, and the wooden chairs have been stripped down and left free of paint, varnish or polish. The plain wooden dining table, preferably well-loved and well-worn - scrubbed deal, for example, or with an ageing patina - is a must-have for any modern rustic home. It’s a focus for relaxed rather than formal dining - no need to worry about matching chairs!


Dining table by Raft Furniture
There are plenty of eye-catching modern rustic features in this American ranch house, all of which would work equally well in a British barn conversion! Big, exposed beams - left in their natural state this time - exposed stonework; natural fabrics, materials, and accessories in leather, wool, and sisal, and natural wooden window and door frames, all teamed with modern furniture that reflects that key neutral colour palette.


Living room, Studio McGee Ranch House, USA. Image credit.
This bedroom is the epitome of thoroughly modern rustic - a blend of minimalism, neutral colours, wood in its natural state - just look at that mirror frame - plus simple rugs and throws. All designed to promote a sense of peace and calm and to guarantee a good night’s sleep. This bathroom may be the smallest room in the house but it packs a modern rustic punch. It has all the key ingredients - exposed stonework and beams, with wood floors and washbasin unit for warmth. Note the clever use of glass, mirrors, and white tiles and paintwork, all of which help to make most of the natural light that comes in through the small window.


Space-efficient modern rustic bathroom. Image credit.

Lighting your modern rustic home

Here at Pooky, you will have no difficulty whatsoever finding the perfect lights and lampshades for your modern rustic home. You won't be surprised to learn that we’ve gone the wood and glass route and we’ve included a couple of must-have extras that you might like too.

The modern rustic floor lamp

Lisa floor lamp

We’ve paired our lovely Lisa floor lamp, in white painted wood, with a 40cm straight empire gathered lampshade in ‘ticking’ - made of carefully woven pure linen, given a stonewash finish, leaving it full of character and texture. The gathered finish lets out a gentle filtered light, ideal for modern rustic relaxing.

The modern rustic table lamp

Skellig table lamp

Brass and wood are good in modern rustic settings. The Skellig table lamp has alternating roundels of wood and brass, and is earthy yet very classy at the same time. Pair with a contemporary shade and it will provide a striking modern touch in a room with rustic walls and flooring.

The modern rustic pendant light

Demijohn pendant

What could be better for providing some pure clean light in a modern rustic kitchen or dining area than Pooky’s marvellous larger Demijohn in clear glass? We think it’s a bit of a natural wonder.

Modern rustic lampshades

Jute has been used to make textiles for millennia, so it has all the right credentials for modern rustic homes. It is a strong, hard wearing fibre and Pooky’s jute lampshades have a wide weave… therein lies the magic: when the light is on, you can see the contrasting liner through the weave. Just the right pop of colour. Here we’ve combined a natural undyed jute with the totally unexpected - a punchy pink lining.

Those modern rustic extras

Wooden-framed mirrors are definitely modern rustic and here at Pooky, we have the very thing. It’s the Tanzi, a gently bevelled mirror in a rectangular wooden frame with a mahogany finish, embellished with some simple geometric carvings.

More in our series 'Classic interior design styles and how to light them': 1. Mid-Century Modern 2. English Country House style 3. Industrial style 4. Eclectic style 5. Coastal style 6. Scandinavian style 7. Art Deco 8. French chic 9. Shabby chic 10. Zen

At Pooky we make beautiful lights for beautiful rooms. Browse, discover and mix-and-match our full range of affordable designer lighting here.