Rustic Meaning: Definition In 26 Characteristics

You may be wondering what rustic styling actually means in home decor. It can mean a lot of different things to different people. However, rustic is basically a simple design that is more roughly finished. Since that is way to basic of a definition to apply to home decorating, I came up with this fun guide of alphabetical characteristics. It lists common accessories, textures, and finishes that apply to the rustic meaning in decorating from A to Z.

Rustic Meaning By Alphabet

This guide is broken down by terms or accessories in rustic decor. I’ve also included an example photo of each word and how it is used in decorating. Along with the photo, is a link to a post that covers each topic in more detail.

A – Antlers

antler hanging rack
READ MORE AT: Antler Crafts For A Rustic Home

Antler decor is commonly seen in a rustic style home. Although there are plenty of manufactured antler accessories for sale, you can also make your own if you have antlers. If you live by a woods, you may find fallen antlers laying around. However, it is more likely that you can get antlers if a family member is a deer hunter.

B – Birch

birch twig vase and birch bark pumpkin
READ MORE AT: Rustic Birch Crafts For Home Decor

What got me first interested in rustic decorating was seeing all of the birch bark accessories in some of my favorite home decor stores. Birch bark is both rustic and chic because of the color. Actually, any part of a birch tree is great for decorating with. The larger logs and smaller twigs both have their unique characteristics and rustic charm.

C – Country

rustic country kitchen
READ MORE AT: Country Kitchen Ideas

One of the things that you might think of when envisioning rustic decorating is a place out in the country. Country homes will typically have simpler down to earth styling. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t replicate the look in the city.

D – Distressed

distressed painted black chair
READ MORE AT: Distressed Painting Techniques

You won’t usually find brand new finishes in a rustic style home. That is all part of the comfortable charm. Even if you repaint an old piece of furniture, it is popular to then distress the finish to keep that worn look. Things to distress are furniture, frames, signs, and more.

E – Eclectic

vintage eclectic centerpiece with croquet and other balls
READ MORE AT: Vintage Eclectic Home Decor Ideas

It’s not uncommon to see the unexpected in rustic decor. Because a big part of rustic decorating is using old or vintage items, it can make for an interesting display. For instance, instead of a bowl of fruit on the table, you may want to show off a collection of vintage balls.

F – Farmhouse

farmhouse style pillows
READ MORE AT: 60 Easy DIY Farmhouse Decor Ideas

In the current style trends, the meaning of rustic could equate to farmhouse style. Since the popularity of HGTV’s Fixer Upper, farmhouse style has become all the rage. You will find lots of vintage and distressed decor in a farmhouse style home.

G – Galvanized

faux galvanized lockers
READ MORE AT: How To Faux Galvanize Metal

Because galvanized metal has such a cool patina, it is very popular in rustic decorating. Common items to decorate with are galvanized buckets, light fixtures, and vases. To create the look on any metal decor, you can easily paint the metal to look like it is galvanized.

H – Homey

bookcase styling with rustic accessories
READ MORE AT: Decorating With Architectural Salvage

One word to describe rustic is homey. What makes a space homey and comfortable is what you decorate with. Using vintage items and architectural salvage brings a nostalgic feeling of the past. Because these items will also be worn, you get an instant feeling of cozy.

I – Industrial

plumbers pipe table legs on live edge wood table
READ MORE AT: Rustic Industrial Decor Ideas

Because industrial metal pieces are simple and unrefined, they make a great accent in rustic decorating. When the metal is combined with natural or salvaged wood, the look is especially rustic. Plumbers pipe and rolling casters are just a couple of items that add a fun industrial touch to rustic decor.

J – Junk

rusty parts basket used in decorating
READ MORE AT: How To Decorate With Flea Market Finds

One man’s junk is another man’s treasure. This is so true in rustic decorating. You may have heard of dumpster diving as a means for getting cool stuff. However, flea markets are a more refined way of collecting old things. To some people an old and rusty parts basket is definitely a throw away item. However, to others it is a perfect back drop for a rustic vignette.

K – Keepsakes

vintage glasses and books
READ MORE AT: Decorating With Vintage Treasures

Decorating with vintage items, in and of itself, is a great way to add rustic decor. However, when the vintage items have been passed down or hold sentimental value, the keepsakes have a little more meaning. I was the happy recipient of some of my grandpa’s old books and eyeglasses. The grouping is one of my favorite rustic decor pieces.

L – Ladders

rustic meaning defined with old ladders in home decor
READ MORE AT: Decorating With Ladders

There actually is rustic meaning when it comes to ladders! While an old ladder may have lost it’s original use, it can be given a second life in home decor. Old ladders make great holders for blankets or even shoes. Whether the ladder is metal or wood, it definitely has a place in rustic decorating.

M – Makeovers

ottoman rustic makeover
READ MORE AT: Best Thrift Store Finds And Makeovers

An inexpensive way to get some great rustic decor is to buy from a thrift store and then make it over. You can also do this with your own old items. A lot of times an old item has good bones but needs some improvement. Part of the appeal of rustic decorating is taking something old and giving it a new rustic look. This ottoman is a great example of this. By adding old coffee sacks to the sides, the ottoman looks especially rustic.

N – Natural

rustic stair rail made from logs
READ MORE AT: Things To Make Out Of Branches

A big part of rustic decorating is using natural elements. Think of things like logs, branches, stones, or driftwood to add to a rustic style room. You can get much more simple and unfinished as that which is the ultimate rustic meaning.

O – Old

old window used for rustic decor
READ MORE AT: 50 Ways To Use Old Windows

Anything old will have appeal in a rustic style. Usually the finishes are rough and unrefined but have tons of character. Things like old windows, doors, or shutters are frequently used in some way to enhance the rustic home.

P – Patina

faux painted wooden jacks to look like iron
READ MORE AT: How To Make Wood Look Like Metal

An aging of the finish on a particular item, usually metal, is the patina. The older it looks the better in rustic decor. I like to set out old pulleys or other metal objects because of their patina. It is also possible to paint wood to look like old metal. This is great for tricking the eye and making you think that something is well aged metal or iron.

Q – Quilts

quilt pillows

Whether you make pillows, hang them on the wall, or use them as tablecloths, quilts add rustic charm and nostalgia to a home. It would be great to use a keepsake quilt in a rustic home for more nostalgic charm.

R – Recycled

toilet paper roll napkin rings in a rustic style
READ MORE AT: Decorative Toilet Paper Roll Crafts

Talk about simple and basic! When you can turn trash items into decorative rustic decor, it is a win win. You’ll be amazed at what you can make with a simple toilet paper roll!

S – Salvaged

salvaged wood in rustic decor
READ MORE AT: Rustic Decorating Ideas Using Salvaged Wood

One of my favorite defining characteristics of rustic would have to be salvaged wood. Whenever you can incorporate some of this wood into your home, you get a ton of warmth and character. Some of the most popular salvaged woods to use are pallets or barn wood.

T – Twine

twine storage containers
READ MORE AT: Craft Projects With Twine

Twine has a rustic look all on it’s own. It probably because of the neutral color and rough finish. Anything that you can wrap or make with twine will have a rustic flair.

U – Upcycled

upcycled crate into a table
READ MORE AT: What To Do With Crates

Upcycled items are popular in rustic decorating. The meaning is to take an old item and use it in a new way. For instance, an old crate and an old ladder are combined to make a new side table.

V – Vintage

rustic decor vase made with a vintage grain sack
READ MORE AT: A Roundup Of Vintage Crafts And Ideas

Besides simply displaying vintage items, you can also make new things using vintage materials. You will commonly see items in rustic decor that are made from old grain sacks or old book pages.

W – Weathered

weathered wood pallet sign
READ MORE AT: Pallet Decor Ideas

Weathered wood is a must in a rustic home. Whether it is natural or has been painted, wood that shows age is extremely popular.

X – X’s And O’s

You didn’t think that I was going to come up with a characteristic that begins with X did you? I chose x’s and o’s because of the general happy feeling that rustic decor makes. Plus, everybody loves rustic right?

Y – Yarn

diy pom pom garland made from yarn
READ MORE AT: 10 DIY Garland Ideas

Z – Zen

relaxed and tranquil sage green rustic bedroom
READ MORE AT: How To Decorate With Green

Rustic wall colors are typically muted. They give off a vibe of tranquility and relaxation.

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Creating rustic styling on a budget by giving new life to old things and using the beauty that is already found in nature. Read more about me.
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