Home Style of the Month: Contemporary Rustic

Photos by Scott Amundson

In today’s style parlance, the descriptor “rustic” often gets applied to residences ranging from tiny log cabins to sprawling mountain retreats, urban farmhouses to Tuscan-esque estates. Drill down, however, and what “rustic” really refers to is a certain sort of charm that comes from natural materials, comfortable furnishings, warm yet neutral color palettes, and crafted décor that reflects the recycled, the repurposed, and the handmade.

Let’s call it “modern rustic” or “contemporary rustic,” instead, because of the modern amenities including open floor plans and large windows that bring the outdoors in. “Think of it as a reverse luxury idea,” adds Jean Rehkamp Larson, architect and founder of Rehkamp Larson Architects in Minneapolis. The firm has been working within the style for several years, designing family getaways that perfectly blend “the informal, comfortable, flexible, and durable,” she says, in projects like their Round Lake Lodge in Wisconsin (pictured here).

In this project, the design used a material palette of chinked log siding, recycled timbers, wall and ceiling boards, and natural stone to create a contemporary rustic retreat. “In this cabin, the clients wanted something different from their city house, so they feel like they’re away from the everyday.” While you can see the joints coming together on the chinked log siding, which reinforces the natural aspects of the material and its hand-hewn construction, the wall is well-insulated behind it.

That heavier aspect of the house, grounding it in the site along with the stone fireplace, lightens up above where the design team used cedar siding on the wings and dormers. Large expanses of glass also add height to the structure. Inside, the timber walls came from Manomin and are reclaimed barn wood. Painted window sashes, interior doors, and colorful cabinets perfectly complement the rustic wood. Meanwhile, the dining table chandelier, the clean lines of the kitchen island’s legs, and quartz composite countertops add modern elements to the home.

To add rustic elements to your home, says Rehkamp Larson, “Refrain from just making one move. Five moves will tie things together.” For example, add a reclaimed wood vanity to the bathroom or a repurposed side table out of reclaimed wood to a living space. Hang a light fixture with a rustic sensibility, a chair, a rug, or a shelf. “A cutting board, wood bowl, or woven rug instantly adds that feeling of rustic or cabin craft,” she adds.

Woven baskets, natural textiles, furnishings crafted from logs, boards, or stone will do. “Anything with a handmade feel can lean more towards rustic,” she adds, “and bring into your home the warm and inviting rustic aesthetic.”

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