Farmhouse vs. Rustic Home Decor

Tako Agency | 09 April, 2021

            Farmhouse vs. Rustic Home Decor

So you’ve decided to change up your home decor, and you’re loving the farmhouse aesthetic. No, wait, the rustic aesthetic.

Erm...rustic farmhouse? 

Though these styles have a few things in common, there are significant differences that can make your decor decisions much easier. Let’s look at the elements and colors that define these oft-confused styles so that you can confidently choose your favorite. 

Farmhouse Decor

If you’ve spent any time browsing through farmhouse looks on Pinterest or in design mags, you know how broadly defined this genre is. After all, there are farms all over the world, and farmhouses to go with them. There are modern farmhouses, traditional farmhouses, and even historical farmhouses. To keep things simple, let’s talk about the traditional American farmhouse aesthetic.

In American farmhouse decor, elements old and new are combined to create a fresh, spacious feel that recalls a time when thoughtful, functional, comforting, and--importantly--affordable details were queen.

Recreating this look means finding elements that look the part, but you don’t have to go digging around in your grandma’s attic. Thanks to the enduring popularity of farmhouse style, resources to help you create your dream farmhouse abound! (We bet Grandma has some pretty cool stuff up there, though.) 


Traditional farmhouse decor passes on bright colors in favor of neutral and muted hues -- think white, cream, or taupe for walls, trim, and cabinets, paired with grey-blue or sage green secondary colors. Splashes of color can be added with fresh flowers in an antique milk can, or a soft, sunny print. A largely muted color palette doesn’t mean you have to forgo vibrancy entirely

Rustic decor color palette


The focus in farmhouse styling is on striking a balance between utility and unpretentious refinement, beginning with your choice ofwood elements. Hardwood floors are a must, and with proper care, they’ll last a lifetime! 

Wood furniture, sanded smooth and stained or painted, adds to the country feel. Although gentle distressing of some finishes is a welcomed touch, rough or significantly distressed floors, walls, exposed beams, and furnishings are best left to a more rustic style. (More on that later.) 

Offset the potential “hardness” of solid wood with comfy seating and cozy throws. Flatweave or patterned low pile rugs create visual interest and protect your floors. Well-placed lighting highlights texture and adds dimension and warmth, so don’t skimp on overhead lighting, strategically placed lamps, and even uplights! To continue the farmhouse look through the lighting, stick with simple lines and natural materials like matte metals (though a hint of warm copper won’t hurt), wood, and soft white or other neutral lampshades. 

In the kitchen, painted cabinetry featuring clean lines and simple hardware (in dark, not shiny, tones) prevails. (DIYers can give it a personal touch withmilk or chalk paint.) Open wood shelving is the perfect place to store your favorite dishware or display decor items. Countertops from butcher block, marble, soapstone, or evenporcelain will fit the bill, and of course,do spring for that gorgeous farmhouse sink you’ve been eyeing! 

Those with an enviable budget can combine modern technology with vintage appeal by snaggingappliances with yesteryear in the front, space age in the back. And where to eat all that delicious food you cook up in your beautiful farmhouse kitchen? Our pick is a Shaker-style dining table with spindle-back chairs or benches (or mix it up with both). 

Finishing Touches

While we subscribe to the “make it your own” rule of decorating (sorry, purists), we’ll offer a few traditional ideas to add complementary touches that will bring things together.

To bring your kitchen to full farmhouse glory, seek out a few useful stoneware accessories in neutral or soft colors, tarnished metal baskets for countertop storage, wooden cutting boards, and servingutensils worthy of display. (Vintage is best, but reproductions will do. We won’t tell. ;)) Add a hint of distressed wood inwall hangings. For lighting, lantern pendants will do nicely.

In other living areas, focus on maintaining an uncluttered, spacious feel. Bare windows (if they’re ready to show off) or sheer white curtains optimize natural light. Add a wood crate for magazine storage, natural wicker containers, pillows and throws in neutral and subdued shades, a decorative and functional tray for the coffee table, and art that continues the gentle, relaxed vibe.

Farmhouse decor

Rustic Decor

Macmillan defines “rustic” as “typical of the simple style of the countryside” and “made from wood or other material with a rough surface.” Though that doesn’t tell the whole story of this decor genre, it’s a fair start.

Whilewood, wood, everywhere describes both farmhouse and rustic styles, in contrast to the farmhouse’s somewhat refined aesthetic,rustic decor is all about keeping wood elements as close to their natural appearance as possible: taking advantage of natural shape, grain, knots, and imperfections for visual impact. 

The rustic style also boasts exposed beams and joints, and calls for more substantial furniture pieces and supporting elements than its country cousin. Rustic is where you’ll find miles of reclaimed wood*, distressed wood furniture, and cabinets, shelving, ceilings, beams, and floors shot through with all the character of the trees (or barns) from which they came. 

*Did you know? Our most popular Enticing Treesproducts are made (with love) from natural reclaimed and found wood.

Like the farmhouse style, rustic decor marries form to function and keeps clutter to a minimum, but where the farmhouse look is often described as “airy,” rustic interiors flaunt a decidedly grounded, earthy feel.


Echoing nature’s warmer, sleepier side, rustic homes are awash in warm browns and deep greens, golds, oranges, reds, and blues.

Rustic color palette


Stay true to the rustic theme with prolific use of reclaimed and wholly natural wood. The rustic look is famous for exposed beams, and if your home is too new to use the real thing, convincingreproductions may do the job. (You can evenDIY that if you’re handy!) Stone is also a natural match for the theme, whether you opt for smooth tiles or river rock.

In the kitchen, a rugged wood industrial table becomes an island while, for balance, cabinets are sanded smooth and painted. Alternatively, weathered wood cabinets and gnarled wood bar stools contrast beautifully with sleek soapstone or granite countertops. 

If you can swing it, install commercial appliances to add visual weight to the space. Choose copper, aged, and galvanized metal varieties where possible, and show off cast iron cookware and other decorative elements that complement the style’s functional feel.

In other living areas, add some softness in between the time-worn wood, metal, and stone with  cushy seating and fluffy throws in creamy neutrals or deep, earthy shades. (And if you have latent love of plaid or moose prints, by all means, go for it. Who are we to judge?) 

Juxtaposed against a dark wood floor, a thick, warm area rug underfoot may be just the ticket. Capitalize on natural light where possible and and speckle fixtures throughout;industrial style is an obvious choice, but a few scattered fabric lamp shades in light neutrals will soften and brighten things up.

To tie things up, what could be more perfect for a space that sticks close to nature thanplants? (If your thumb is decidedly ungreen, our friends at Sparetoolzhave some tips for you.) 

Rustic interior

So, what’s your style? Rustic? Farmhouse? A grand amalgamation of grounding earthiness and country charm? Whatever your choice, beautiful wooden accents (especiallybespoke ones!) are sure to add something special.