7 Tips for a Modern Rustic Kitchen

March, 2016 · By Coryanne Ettiene

Modern Rustic is the new catch phrase blowing up Instagram and Pinterest. You can hardly look at a design magazine or walk into a housewares shop and not see elements of this growing trend on everything from plates to bar stools — but what exactly is modern rustic and what do you need to know to create a modern rustic kitchen?  Unlike other design trends, it blends the cleanliness of modern with the rough edges of rustic, allowing the creator to put a unique spin on it, rather than following hard and fast design rules;  That, and it allows you to play with personal elements that tell a story well beyond what color granite you chose, to an all together more heirloom tale that makes your modern rustic kitchen something to celebrate.

Coryanne Ettiene Modern Rustic Kitchen Shelving

When Brabantia asked me to preview their new US line of kitchen accessories, I could not wait to see what one of my favorite UK brands was doing in the US; after all, all of my kitchen in London were accessorized with their goodies, so the thought of them launching a new line in the US was nothing short of exciting. But then I paused.  I have a very modern rustic kitchen, how was I going to stay authentic to my design and incorporate their modern lines without straying from my aesthetic? It turns out that their new line, blends so well that it was almost made for the modern rustic kitchen trend.

The modern rustic kitchen showcases exposed beams, industrial charm and soft, almost illuminate neutral shades.  It embraces dark wood, vintage brick and stone tiles.  It captures the essence of tactile fibers with linens, muslim and cotton fabrics.  And it is sympathetic to splashes of color, like a hint that suggests something playful behind all the moody allure of a modern rustic kitchen.  It is everything and anything  associated with a rural flavor, while being particular and exact about not being Shabby Chic at the same time.  It is no wonder people are confused on this trend and how to capture it… and all more apparent why I paused before playing with their new line. I loved the neutrality of what I had and was scared that even the smallest splash of color would compromise it.  Boy was I wrong.

7 Tips for a Modern Rustic Kitchen


  1. Exposure is everything.  Exposed walls, pipes, beams, anything that allows you to open up your kitchen and showcase what lies beneath. If your house was built after 1950, you may find it hard to expose anything and find it even more challenging to make simple changes without a big kitchen remodel.  But there are a few ways to navigate this trend without a major renovation.  Look up and use your ceiling as a focal point by adding beams if space allows, or even removing the a few of the built in cupboards and replacing them with exposed, open shelving to showcase the architectural details that are so highly valued in a modern rustic kitchen.
  2. Introduce rural flavor.  Even if you are in New York city, there is an element of rural near you, you just have to look for it.  In my case, I used my grandmother’s old croc and the mint color accents as inspiration for my rural focus, adding salmon striped chicken feed sacks that bring everything together.  Bigger, bolder moves might be a farm house sink, orchard ladders or even a rustic farm table.  Even the smallest details makes a difference.
  3. Embrace neutral tones.  Living in downtown Orlando where color is king should not stop you from capturing this light and airy color palate.  The easiest swap could be replacing your everyday bright white cotton dish towels for hand towels made from vintage grain sacks, or going as bold as white washing an exposed brick wall.   Both swaps offer that natural color and texture that is all important in this decor theme where the aim goal is capture elements that might be found in a farmhouse in Nebraska.
    Modern Rustic kitchen tips by Coryanne Ettiene
  4. Flirt with splashes of color.  Go on, flirt, just a little, but then don’t get carried away.  One of my favorite colors that Brabantia sent me is their mint, I love how it plays so well with butter and cream tones, and accents beautifully with hard dark woods and even softens against neutral shades of grey and brown.  The Brabantia mint allows me to flirt with color where I want it, like these silicone caps for my everyday kitchen tools, or even the lids to my new favorite stackable glass storage containers. It’s there, but not really there, and I love it.
  5. Distress it.  If you don’t have the time to search flea markets and barn sales for distressed furniture, make your own.  Distressed wooden shelving is a signature element of the modern rustic kitchen design. It allows you to both expose your storage and create an impactful feature that makes no mistake about your love of this new trend.  It is as simple as buying a piece of wood from your lumber yard, playing with a few different stains and then beating the beam with a metal chain. The internet is alive with tips and tricks on how to do this, and as someone who just spent a week making 10 beams look old, I can tell you, it is one of the more fun DIY projects I have done in a long while.
  6. Utilitarian lighting is a bright idea.  Look for industrial chic lighting that has an Edison bulb or some time forgotten lighting element included in the design.  These may look easy to make, and some are, and they may look cheap to buy, but most are not.  Pinterest is full of buyable pins and DIY pins that show you how to capture this look, and where to buy them.  My personal favorite is the jute rope covered cord with the oversized Edison bulb; it creates all the drama of a great light, without all the headache of breaking the bank or expecting you to amp up your DIY skills.
  7. Steel, plenty of steel.  Stainless is still king in some parts of the modern rustic kitchen, and at the same time, white and black are making a comeback too. Don’t be afraid to mix them and be eccentric in your pursuit of the modern rustic kitchen.  I love stainless steel accents, like these mixing bowls with a hint of mint, and this fingerprint proof bread bin by Brabantia.

So go on, play with it a bit, see what happens and be sure to share you photos with me on Instrgarm so I can cheer you on in our shared love of the modern rustic kitchen.

Coryanne Ettiene Modern Rustic Kitchen Shelving

Disclaimer:  I have partnered with Brabantia  to share their new line of products available in the US.  All thoughts expressed are my own. For a full list of Brabantia products available in the US, check out their list of products on Amazon here and connect with them on Instagram for some daily visual inspiration.

Coryanne Ettiene Modern Rustic Kitchen Shelving

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