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How to Mix Rustic and Modern Home Decor in Five Easy Steps (Especially if You’re Holding an Open House)

At first blush, rustic and modern design styles may seem at odds. One features heavy, raw materials and earthy tones. The other flaunts sleek lines and typically solid colors. The reality is, however, that rustic and modern home decor are akin to salty and sweet: They are unique and enjoyed on their own, but when blended well, they form a delightful pairing. The key to marrying these styles well is balance. Use these five simple tricks to unite your cozy, rustic decor with a classic, modern aesthetic a look, by the way, that home buyers love.

Embrace warm and neutral hues

One way to unite contrasting design styles is by finding their common ground. Rustic home decor utilizes natural woods and warm hues while flat blacks and whites often take center stage in modern living spaces. Nevertheless, there is some overlap between these two styles, as both of them play well with a neutral color palette.  

If youre working with a raw hardwood floor, try a soft white on the walls. In the living room, balance a plush, pale rug with darker statement pieces such as a heathered taupe ottoman or a rustic chest in place of a coffee table. In the kitchen, top white Shaker-style cabinets with a butcher-block countertop, or knotty wood cabinetry with gleaming quartz. If youd like to add more color, dont stray too far from either style, and consider limiting bright shades to small, decorative accents. For instance, use vintage books with rusty-red or royal-blue bindings to dress up your slender black shelves.

Incorporate raw, reclaimed woods

Reclaimed woods are a key ingredient in rustic design, and modern touches can soften this feature well. If youre fortunate enough to have exposed beams or original hardwood floors, highlight these architectural details with warm white walls and light upholstery. In your furniture selection, find pieces that pair natural woods with modern components such as hairpin legs or a marble top on a coffee table or end tables. 

You can also revive vintage pieces with a few modern touches. For example, add matte black hardware to your weathered credenza to give it a contemporary feel. Finish the look with a glossy white vase adorned with a few olive-leaf stems or sprigs of eucalyptus.

Use clean lines as a base

A modern aesthetic embraces straight, clean lines in everything from cabinets to candlesticks. And while rustically decorated homes include more patterns and textures, lines provide an excellent foundation for spaces that hope to blend the two styles.

Vintage furniture can feature ornate and unpredictable shapes, but these details can overpower minimal designs. When searching for dressers, dining tables, sofas and such, avoid intricate details such as elaborate carvings or busy prints. When you do incorporate curves, make sure theyre subtle and smooth. For example, a midcentury modern barstool may use gentle arches in its thin, iron legs.

Once youve selected some modern staples to anchor the room, complement the space with a little rustic flair. Top your dresser with a woven, Aztec basket for keys, or display weathered terracotta pottery, such as vases or bowls, on your modern floating shelves.  

Add cozy, textured accents

An easy way to soften the straight lines and angles that are emblematic of modern home decor is adding some casual fabrics and textured materials. An organic jute rug, for instance, provides a little dimension next to your slim ivory sofa. In your bedroom, geometric prints on pillows can add some detail to your solid bedspread or cedar headboard. With subway tiles as the backdrop, decorate your kitchen counters with vibrant flowers and well-loved cutting boards.

In areas of the home where theres a rustic focal point, such as a stone fireplace, take the opposite approach. Balance heavy elements with light, modern decor such as a sleek mantel and abstract artwork.

Keep spaces relatively minimal

As you incorporate the steps above, its important to remember youre fusing two styles in a single space. What you dont want is a home that resembles a haphazard assortment of items from antiques shops and big-box furniture stores. Rustic architecture and modern accessories can live in harmony as can modern architecture and rustic furnishings  but the more furniture and decor you work into a space, the more your vintage and contemporary vibes become shrouded in clutter. Too much salt can overpower the sweet! A minimal aesthetic, however, provides room for both styles to stand out  and lets potential buyers imagine some of their own things in the home. As you select colors, materials, textures and so on, have patience and curate thoughtfully. Decorate with care and intentionality so that your collection of rustic and modern treasures complements one another well and leaves room for each to truly shine.

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