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12 Tips for Adding Rustic Charm to Your Home

Whether you have a log home, a timber frame or conventional construction, every house can benefit from a few rustic touches. We offer 12 ways to to bring it home.

Written by Donna Peak

Photo: Heidi Long

The first rule for today’s log or timber home decor is that there are no rules. Sure, people who love to surround themselves with all-natural building materials gravitate toward styles that speak to that passion, but these days, log and timber home owners are incorporating what’s commonly considered the “rustic” motif in innovative, and even modern, ways.
Whether you are already living the log and timber home life, planning your dream home or want to give a conventional house a log-and-timber twist, we offer a dozen ways you can add that coveted rustic touch to any home.
1. The front door sets the stage for what’s to come once you cross the threshold. So if a modern-rustic vibe is what you want to portray, invest in a quality solid-wood door. Amp it up with custom carvings, a speakeasy peek-a-boo door and grille or wrought-iron clavos and strap details — all of which impart handcrafted artistry and attention to detail.
Photo: James Ray Spahn
2. Wood and stone are like peanut butter and jelly — they’re begging to be combined. But when it comes to adding stonework to your home, think beyond the fireplace and foundation. Unexpected applications, like accent walls, archways and soaking-tub surrounds are prime places to rock it out. Powder rooms offer another ideal spot to branch out from the norm, so consider encasing the space in chiseled stone tile to create a cave-like mood.
3. While we’re on the subject of stone, leave high-gloss granite counters to the contemporary motifs and look to finishes you’d find in nature. For instance, granite can be given a honed, matte, leathered or sandblasted finish (all of which are also smudge proof and great at hiding crumbs). Or, go an even more unconventional route and ditch ubiquitous granite in favor of soapstone or limestone. You and your counters will feel one with nature.

Photo: Coventry Log Homes by Mark Sorenson
4. Like stone, metal and wood are a marriage made in heaven. And while black iron has been the darling of log and timber homes for decades, copper, burnished brass, bronze and galvanized tin will add a novel metallic patina to everything from fixtures to wainscoting.
5. Wood elements — besides the logs and timbers — make a bold rustic statement, if they’re given their own identity. For example, barnwood (with traces of paint remaining) can be used on the face of a kitchen island, and recycled mushroom board can be the source of a conversation-starting mantel.

Photo: James Ray Spahn
6. Upcycling discarded furniture into fixtures, like dressers into vanities; tables to kitchen islands; and wardrobes to pantries, is an enterprise at the heart of living a greener, more natural lifestyle. Often, items can be found at tag sales and flea markets for next to nothing, and with a little vision, a touch of paint and fair amount of elbow grease, your home’s interior can be one of a kind.

7. Log and timber homes come with their fair share of natural wood tones built in, so when choosing other wood elements, like cabinetry, opt for paint over stain. Bright, eye-popping colors will accentuate your home’s logs and timbers, rather than compete with them.
8. Add materials like sisal, grass cloth, rope, bark, moss or leather in unexpected ways for complementary textures that will make an impact. For instance, coarse poplar bark can take an interior wall from a humdrum paint job to a featured focal point. In a round log home, rope is sometimes used to give a finished edge to the joinery. And why install everyday metal pulls to your cabinets when you can have hand-tooled leather instead? The options are limited only by your imagination.
9. If you’re sprucing up a conventional home the L&T way, most log and timber home companies also make log siding and timber trusses and braces that you can apply to create instant rustic appeal.

Photo: Timber Block Custom Homes
10. Part of the genius of a timber frame home is that the exterior can take on any style and utilize the full range of building materials, from brick to stone to siding. This allows it to fit in anywhere – even subdivisions with strict HOA guidelines on exterior appearance. But don’t disguise the rustic beauty of the timber frame that lurks inside – announce it by incorporating majestic wood beams via a timbered entry or other exposed exterior wood, a heavy-timber portico, a pergola or other structure on a deck or in a garden.
Photo: Custom Timber Frames
11. In most floor plans, staircases occupy a fair amount of internal real estate. Give them that rustic touch by adding carvings to the newel posts and metal balustrades that play up the wood.
12. Today’s homes are eclectic, combining a wide range of design influences into one cohesive space. An easy way to follow suit in a log or timber frame home is by varying the shades of stain you use. Accentuate some elements, like dramatic timber trusses with bolder, darker stain, and allow others, like tongue-and-groove ceiling panels, to set as the stage with a pale blonde or even whitewashed treatment. (Or be really original and do the reverse!) Then, opt for an entirely different but complementary hue on your floors or cabinetry — you may choose paint over stain to interject vivid pops of color or pattern to these spaces. The key is to let your creativity flag fly.

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