It’s like harboring a piece of forest in your home. A modern home can offer the same appealing quality as a cabin in the woods by incorporating rustic elements of design. Though the use of rustic furnishings and decor came to fruition at the turn of the century, mainly by pioneers who were forced to use nature to build, the National Park Service officially coined it as a style. The term, rustic, was adopted by our National Park Service as way to identify their own particular design and architectural tendencies.
A historic American buildings survey confirms this style’s deeply rooted connection to nature, “The Park Service may have been most concerned about preserving the natural environment, but, for visitors in search of a civilized vacation, rustic park buildings and furnishings were more a part of the “back to nature” experience than nature itself.”
Its not too surprising that our National Park Service employs rustic design because it depends on the innate beauty of nature. Rather than paint over a beam of wood, it is the unique and natural variations in the wood that decorate. This results in a more sustainable production of furniture with fewer toxins than a traditional store bought piece of furniture. An authentic piece of rustic decor truly is a more earth and health friendly product. There are less dyes, bleach, glazes, glues and plastics in rustic design.
While most of us can’t or won’t live in a treehouse, we can bring rustic elements into the home for a more interesting style and improved sustainability. Here’s a few basic style tips for rustic decorating.
8 Easy Ways to Get Rustic
1. Trade your bright whites for off-whites which are more natural and earth friendly.
2. Use wood on your walls.
3. Repurpose old materials by turning them into new decor.
4. Make driftwood and interesting branches your new best friend.
5. Bring old junk back to life.
6. Get stoned.
7. Go green!
8. Bring the animals inside.
In our world of online shopping and cheap synthetics, make sure unnatural imitations don’t fool you. It’s important to maintain the sustainable traits of rustic design in order for it to be authentic. Many retailers neglect this essential ingredient by simply echoing nature with non-sustainable and toxic materials. This is why rustic design is a perfect match for DIY (do-it-yourself) home projects because of its primitive or recycled materials. However, for those of us with no talent for carpentry or no time to spare, there are a few commercial options. Companies such as VivaTerra strive to maintain the true spirit of rustic decor, swearing by recycled materials and little to no extra chemicals.
Here’s a few examples of rustic products you can purchase online without worrying about false advertising or non-sustainable manufacturing (I should disclose that I do get a tiny bit of commission if you purchase any of these from my website).
These wonderful linen towels are so much more than just super absorbent; they\’re also a beautiful addition to any bathroom. Crafted with care of natural linen, they\’re a great way to show your dedication to natural fibers and eco-friendly décor in the bathroom or the kitchen. $19.
Naturally shaped wood slice segments are arranged in a variable pattern to create an eco-chic wall display. The slices are assembled organically and bring in just the right amount of texture and natural material to any room. Every disk will differ in appearance due to natural variations in the wood. $89
Artistic and functional, these variously sized round mirrors are perfect for creating a unique wall display that is pretty yet purposeful. The durable and shinny black frames are created using eco-friendly recycled tire rubber. Great for any room in your home, they can even resist humidity in the bathroom. $103.99
For a dramatic centerpiece or addition to a mantel, look no further than this stunning driftwood candelabra. It\’s crafted with care of gathered driftwood, which is arranged into an intricate, beautiful design, and capped by metal discs for candles. The driftwood, weathered by wind and seawater, creates an impressive display that will be a delight in the dining room, living room, and more. $329.
The mangosteen fruit is rumored by some to be a healthy cure-all; however, we believe in the ability of the mangosteen tree as a cure-all for home organization. These beautiful trees are chopped down and discarded after they no longer produce fruit, but artisans in Southeast Asia see potential in them for a second life. The salvaged branches are cleaned, sanded and finished to create a totally unique and eco-friendly organization solution for your home. Keep mugs stylishly stored and always within reach on your counter or table top. $99.
Let these glorious temple bells bring peace and serenity to every part of your life. Hung from a simple but sturdy piece of twine, each brass-plated steel bell is burnished to shimmer and shine like gold. Each bell is fitted with wooden clappers. Available in a variety of sizes, you\’re sure to find just the right temple bell (or several!) for any space inside or out. $19.
This organically shaped and richly colored teak wood bowl is filled with an eco-friendly blend of beeswax and palm wax. Each bowl is reusable after wax is burnt and removed. Size and shape will vary due to natural variations in the wood used. $69.
Hang your towels, pull back your curtains, or hang your hat on these elegant tumbled stone, wall-mounted hooks. Each is a perfectly practical addition to any room in your home where you want an eco-friendly, coastal-inspired style. Mother Nature shapes each stone herself in the rivers and oceans of New England’s coast. Worn by time and the waters current, they are rounded and smoothed before they are washed upon the banks and shores where we collect them. In return for each stone the coast gives us, we give it one in return. When a tumbled stone is collected we leave a rough quarry stone in its place to restart the cycle and let nature do its work. Additionally, ten saplings are planted for each cherry tree that is cut down to create the base of the hooks. Not only can you admire the beauty of these functional, nature-made accents, you can rest assured that the environment was positively impacted in their production. Each is unique; please expect sizes and shapes to vary greatly. $59.
Vast plantations in Southeast Asia grow the nutritious mangosteen, but when an orchard ceases to produce, the trees are routinely chopped down and burned. We\’ve rescued these discarded tree trunks, carefully selected them for size and branch formation, then trimmed, cleaned, cured, sanded and stained them to create a coat rack that is at once a conversation piece, a work of art and an entryway organizer. Retaining the natural imperfections of the tree, each piece is absolutely unique. Number of hooks vary; approximately 10-15 hooks at different heights. Cracks will naturally occur which add to the distinct natural style. Made in Thailand. $499.
Reclaimed teak roots become the base for an artisan-made, blown glass vessel. The glass seems to pour organically over the roots and sits beautifully, frozen in time, catching eyes in your home. Create your own eco-chic display by filling the glass with other natural materials such as flowers and more. Each piece is completely unique. Made in Indonesia. $89.
ntroducing the new look of shelf space, crafted in Thailand from recycled golden teak wood. Ideal for all of your “displayables”: books, magazines, tchotchkes from your travels. The wood\’s incredible moisture resistance makes the shelves a welcome addition to the bath. $149.
Our seasonal nightlight, made from specially treated recycled glass, is a resourcefully created and eco-friendly way to light the night. Our Owl light features a wide-eyed, wise owl seated in a tree against a deep blue sky. The soft glow provides safe passage as it illuminates dark halls and walkways at night and its eco-sourced material keeps glass bottles from landing in our landfills, landscapes, or waterways. All in a night\’s work for this charming light. Made in the USA. $45.
Now, go explore the rustic!
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