I Love Nature, Now Pass the Remote
For eons, Americans’ desire to connect with nature has driven them to log cabin homes, houses on lakes in middle-of-nowhere towns, and wilderness excursions to get closer to nature.
But this need for natural connection is often superceded by the need to watch television, take the kids to karate, or grab a mocha-latte down at one of the 10 local Starbucks. Like it or not, today, most American’s only real connection to nature is often the Outdoor Life Network, a stroll through Central Park or a begrudging day with a lawnmower.
So, with so much keeping Mother Nature out, it isn’t that surprising that modern design trends have capitalized on the need for natural connection to let Mother Nature in by bringing the “rustic furniture” style of decorating into the homes and apartments of suburban and city dwellers.
But is it good?
Rustic furniture design gets its name, not surprisingly, from the rustic furnishings that have finished the cottages, cabins and homes of more woodsy, rural dwellers since Americans first learned to sit around campfires on logs—and it hasn’t evolved much over time.
The rustic style relies on natural woods, often completely natural, bark and all, capturing both the homey feel of a log cabin, emanating a hearty, welcoming and warm feeling to a room. The majority of the pre-made rustic furniture is kiln fired to ensure the bark doesn’t deteriorate over time. Sanding and clear finish are applied to maintain the natural look and beauty over time as well.
By and large, while it may look rickety, rustic furniture makers ensure they use quality materials and pieces, employing modern day fastening, gluing and joining techniques to ensure the furniture is not only ergonomic and comfortable, but durable and solidly crafted.
But I Don’t Live in the Woods
While its definition implies a lack of refinement, rustic furnishings – if applied appropriately – have become anything but, and elicit oohs and ahhs from even the most discerning designers.
Rustic style has been incorporated mainly into chairs, tables, benches and the occasional bed set. For many, four long and textured skinny logs make a great frame for a mirror or a few well-placed rustic-style accent pieces have achieved the desired down-home feel.
Rustic is mostly applied in one room, and by and large, most use this style in sunrooms, outdoor decks, porches, gazebos, basements, or other areas where a relaxing afternoon or evening of socializing is the norm. But be warned: when overdone or used in the wrong ways, rustic can take on the coarse, unrefined feel.
The three keys to decorating in rustic style are:
Don’t overdo it. Even a mirror frame or simple chair set with a traditional glass topped table can capture the feel you want. Make sure to match your rustic style (polished wood, bark, greenery) with the color of the room.
Fabric can tie the entire room together. Rustic-style chairs and table sets can be made to fit into a room simply by capturing some of the room’s color in the fabric and pillows used to finish them.
Make sure to oil each piece. Applied at least once a year, a coat of linseed oil can ensure your furniture maintains its natural beauty for years.
Regardless of your local, when used appropriately, rustic furniture can not only be a great conversation piece, but can generate that woodsy, feel of warmth and comfort that the style is known for. Though, by definition, rustic implies anything but, well-placed rustic furnishings can be both elegant and practical.
© 2005 Kathy Burns-Millyard