Charlotte Starling shares her tips on creating a modern rustic kitchen

The Osea Kitchen’ by Plain English Cupboards painted in ‘Coal Scuttle’ & ‘Rusty Nail’ devised by Ad

The Osea Kitchen’ by Plain English Cupboards painted in ‘Coal Scuttle’ & ‘Rusty Nail’ devised by Adam Bray for Plain English Worktops in Oak, Belgian Fossil Stone and Carrara Marble Kitchens start from £40,000 Contact: 01449 774028 - Credit: Archant

Chuck out the gingham and chintz, country style kitchens are so last century. Interior designer, Charlotte Starling, shares her tips on creating a modern rustic kitchen that will provide a practical and stylish heart to your home

This magnificent English Walnut Kitchen designed by Dorset furniture maker Simon Thomas Piriie perf

This magnificent English Walnut Kitchen designed by Dorset furniture maker Simon Thomas Piriie perfectly complements the architectural detail of this beautiful Georgian rectory ( 01929 471900 - Credit: Archant

Few rooms have so many requirements as our kitchens. If they are to work successfully as the heart of the home they need to be a functional, practical and social space.

Breakfast room dresser with plates by Velvet & Dash Interiors Pq Tactile, hand-painted ceramics lo

Breakfast room dresser with plates by Velvet & Dash Interiors Pq Tactile, hand-painted ceramics look effortlessly chic when displayed as a group - Credit: Archant

If you are after a stylish kitchen which fulfills all these criteria – a look which is authentic not flash, not self-conscious nor heavily styled, just laid back, pared down elegance involving natural materials, skillfully designed simple furniture and muted colours - then look no further than Modern Rustic.

Modern Rustic is a style which has emerged in interiors in the last few years. It is a back-to-basics look which places the emphasis on mixing the old with the new and achieving a space which is both unfussy and calm – the perfect reflection of our current understated, austere times and a welcome departure from the twee frou-frou look of 80s and 90s country kitchens with their pastel ginghams and slightly shouty paint finishes.

To create a modern rustic kitchen, it’s all about teaming the rough with the smooth. Using textures to provide contrast is key: a soft sheepskin against a steel chair, a whimsical chandelier with a brick floor, a woven wicker basket against a timber wall. The trick is not to cover anything with paint or wallpaper that would be better left bare. The combination of exposed natural features like brick or wood juxtaposed with modern lines, hardware and accessories is what you are aiming for.

Although modern rustic does use vintage and recycled pieces, it mustn’t be confused with an entirely vintage look. It is about combining a few carefully-chosen finds with contemporary materials and a bit of know how.

Use colours and textures which link naturally between outside and in. Upholster bar stools in sleek conker brown leather, tile a floor in coppery pink terracotta. Mix up smooth and reflective surfaces for example by lining up earthenware bowls on a galvanized steel shelf. Let the quality of the materials do the talking and keep the colour palette harmonious. The secret is not to let it tip over into looking too rustic or homespun. So stone on the floor or slate work surfaces will keep the look functional and utilitarian, and heavy linen will make unpretentious curtains or chair covers.

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What’s great about this style is that you can tailor it to your requirements. A state-of-the-art cooker or fridge will sit happily alongside an antique cupboard and stripped floorboards, thus avoiding either a sleek minimalist look or out and out rusticity – this style is much more individual.

Modern rustic also lends itself well to a free-standing mix and match type of kitchen. Buy a simple white kitchen from a high street supplier but think about combining it with some more off-beat pieces of furniture, tiles or flooring.

Of course there’s always the danger that such elegant simplicity can start to look somewhat po-faced if you carry it too far. So think about adding a fun twist or two with the addition of a quirky clock or my current favourite, a fairground light. Just a little shot of fun to finish off with.

About Charlotte

Charlotte Starling is Creative Director of Velvet & Dash Interiors, based in Frampton, near Dorchester. She is a keen supporter of Dorset-based artists and designers, collaborating with them to provide styling, sourcing and interior design services. To make an appointment to view the unique range of home-ware, wallpapers and fabric, please call 01300 320 657 or visit

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Lucy Ball, Furniture Maker, Shaftesbury

I first met furniture maker Lucy Ball at a craft fair and fell in love with her wonderful antipasti boards, a show-stopping way to serve everything from tapas to cheese. Lucy had a passion for woodwork from an early age, studying design technology at school until eventually, urged on by her family she started her own workshop near Shaftesbury in 2010. She makes everything from bread boards to butchers blocks, tables to toast racks in oak, ash, cherry, elm and maple. Not only are her designs unusual and aesthetically pleasing, but she manages to make everything fabulously tactile. Commissions taken, more details at


Colours for a Modern Rustic Kitchen

The kitchen is the heart of the home and the hub of family life. It’s also a great room to refresh which you can do easily by painting your kitchen cupboards in a different colour.

Soft greens and greys help create that modern rustic look by combining the natural world of the country with a modern twist. For example, colours like Cooking Apple Green and Vert De Terre help to bring some of nature back in to the home, especially if you have a kitchen that looks out to a garden. Mizzle is a beautiful grey green that could be used on your cupboards to complement a neutral shade on the wall, such as Dimpse, one of our nine new colours. Pigeon is another wonderful and easy to live with colour, darker than Mizzle it has the same calm properties. Ideal for painting a kitchen island, this colour will help to accentuate the focal point of the room.

Whatever look you are going for, always remember to choose colours that will complement the rest of the room. So if you are just updating the colour of your kitchen cabinets, ensure the colour you choose goes with the kitchen walls, flooring, as well as any furniture or even crockery you have in the space.

Sarah Cole, Marketing Director

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