I hail from Minnesota, and I’m taking a wild guess that many of you agree with me that autumn is the best season of the four. It’s not too hot; it’s not too cold. At long last, fall is just right for the mamas, the papas and the baby bears. It’s time to relish in the final days of warm, glorious Minnesota weather and to get a jumpstart on bringing the outdoors in, as we prepare to embrace our longer-than-necessary winter hibernation season. 

Modern rustic is an excellent design option to do just that. Personally I’m a sitting duck for the radiance of rustic charm and modern amenities, so why not combine the two? It’s a big buzzword right now, I know, but there is no reason to follow all of the guidelines set forth in this article or any other, for that matter. I believe rules were meant to be broken. Pick a few of your favorite suggestions and insert your own special spin. Get ready to unleash your inner designer, JUNKMARKET Style.





Simple and uncluttered has long been a favorite decorating approach of mine. “Less is more” are words to live by. I adore rustic modern, as it offers up plenty of polish without the chaos. This design strategy is easy to love for its timeless splendor and welcoming appeal, not to mention it is 100 percent doily free. 

Another advantage of rustic modern is that it is wide open for interpretation. Regardless of whether you are a fan of country, industrial, modern, mid-century or traditional, the clean bones and unassuming color-way of this style will allow you to put your own twist on the trend. You can rest assured you will be able to move about the design cabin freely when putting your stamp on rustic modern.


Some of the key ingredients for a rustic modern scheme are an open floor plan, clean-lined furniture and exposed natural architectural elements. If you have a time-worn home, use it to your advantage. Play off its character and preserve or restore the original architectural details. For example, if you have old brick walls under plaster, try exposing some of it. Grab a hammer, ladies, and release your stress in a productive manner. 

A newer home may require some enhancements. Beefy trim, reclaimed wood and natural stone are some essentials you may want to consider adding to your decor. While you’re at it, don’t forget your fifth wall, the ceiling. Recycled barn beams are an excellent choice.

Large windows are a signature component of this design. Rustic modernists want to be next to nature, and large windows invite the outdoors into your home. The principal concept of this style is combining the warmth and charm of a rustic dwelling with modern conveniences and style.


The time has come to stray from the herd. Fences were invented for livestock, not for people, so feel free to create without boundaries. There are various color and pattern choices. Many designers will say that your upholstery, linen and floor covering options should be as neutral as the bones of your rustic modern interior. Pshaw! Play with color and pattern. Avoid traditional color schemes defined by the season. Uncommon color pops along with unexpected geometric and floral patterns add a little energy to your environment.

Another way to mix things up is the careful combination of old and new. Although I am a big proponent of vintage decor I understand that all old is not practical. My version of rustic modern includes new furniture pieces layered with vintage wares, thrift store finds, garage sale goodies, big box bargains and upcycled projects. I call this approach to interior design spontaneous combustion. The only thing you need to consider is that each piece you select should play nicely with the others. If raising children were this easy, we’d all have it made.

Rustic modern truly provides informal elegance, comfortable and contemporary living at its finest. I believe the best feature of this design strategy is its timeless allure. I say do it once, do it right and don’t worry about a thing for the next 10 years, other than enjoying your fabulous surroundings.

Sue Whitney is a best-selling author, “Better Homes & Gardens” editor, nationally renowned public speaker, founder and owner of JUNKMARKET Style and the nation’s leading expert in the vintage re-design industry. To learn more about Sue visit junkmarketstyle.com.