The Difference Between Rustic And Farmhouse Design Explained

Rustic and farmhouse designs are having a moment in the world of décor due to their emphasis on natural materials and a warm ambiance. Although these terms are often used synonymously, these design concepts are not one and the same. Admittedly, both are grounded in organic elements; the farmhouse design is polished and contemporary. On the other hand, think of the rustic design trend as its raw and rougher-around-the-edges cousin. To elaborate, the rustic design trend is about bringing the outdoors in, whereas the farmhouse is the epitome of "modern country."

Simply put, the farmhouse style is reminiscent of simple rural life. As such, it's practical and comfortable. But this style doesn't shy away from embracing modern themes. On the contrary, rustic design is all about accepting and highlighting the intrinsic imperfections in the materials used. For instance, a wooden table in all its natural glory, i.e. without the sanding and staining, is a perfect example of rustic design. If the table is polished and stained to enhance its aesthetic appeal, it would belong to the farmhouse camp. These design themes also differ in color palettes, materials used, and décor elements. If you're still confused, let's break down each design style separately.

Key elements of the rustic design style

The defining element of the rustic design is its dependency on unadulterated (raw) materials. Moreover, this style is about accepting the natural flaws and how they lend a house unique character. This design relies on distressed furniture and materials with actual (not prefabricated) history. However, this doesn't mean the style is barbaric. It simply means handcrafted furnishings are preferred over mass-produced versions. Fixtures, like sideboards and tables, made of reclaimed wood are pretty popular. Additionally, rustic designers have a deep appreciation for hefty furniture with thick joints. Flooring that looks perfect in rustic homes includes distressed and reclaimed wood boards or unique, natural tiling like terracotta or stone.

Since rustic is invariably tied to nature, it supports earthy tones, including brown, red, green, and blue. Natural metallic accents like iron, bronze, and copper add to the rustic charm and make a room look warm and inviting. Incorporate rustic décor elements like wood-burning fireplaces and stoves, time-worn stones, tree branches, wool blankets, fur carpets, animal-inspired prints, and soft pillows to bring the rustic style home. Barn doors are great options for room dividers, and a variety of potted plants help tie your indoor design more closely to nature.

Key elements of the farmhouse design style

Meanwhile, the farmhouse style is punctuated by practical furnishings that can stand the test of time. This design relies on natural materials, too, especially wood. Wood is the best flooring choice for a farmhouse, too. Organic hardwood flooring, engineered wood floors, and even carpeted floors feel right at home in a farmhouse design, with colors tending to prioritize timeless neutral shades. A similar trend toward neutral coloring and clean, durable wood can be seen in the cabinets, furniture, and beams. However, unlike the rustic style, the farmhouse design adds an elegant touch to the wood furnishings. Though the natural grains of wood are clearly visible, they're sanded, stained, and polished for a more refined approach. Wood logs are mostly cut by machines instead of hand. Moreover, the furniture is intentionally aged to achieve a distressed look.

Coming to the color scheme, the farmhouse prefers a lighter approach. Neutrals like white, gray, and beige are all good examples. Similarly, lightweight fabrics like cotton and linen are given importance over heavy ones. It's all about maximizing natural light and creating an open yet welcoming atmosphere. Ornate furniture, industrial metal lighting accessories, and farmhouse décor elements like barn gates, vintage signs, and loads of houseplants will help you implement this style in your home. Within farmhouse design, there's a wide range of moods and styles at your fingertips, from open, minimalist concepts to homely, warm atmospheres reminiscent of cozy mountain lodges.