Rustic Decorating Tips and Resources

Let’s talk about rustic decorating and how it might differ from similar styles such as primitive, modern country, farmhouse, French country, and cabin decor. Each are wonderful in their own right, but can’t be mix and matched willy-nilly if you want a room with continuity.

Rustic decorating is part flea market finds, part shabby chic, part ‘make-do’.

This style of decorating might, at times, involve antiques or country auction home and barn finds – that you fix up to the point of usability, and then display.

At other times, if you have a corner or use in mind first, you may have to buy something new and forcefully ‘age’ the pieces by paint finishes, stains or sanding techniques. We’ll talk more about taking new pieces and making them look old for the purpose of creating the rustic decor look in a moment…

Rustic Country Decor’s Newest Twist

Lately, both primitive and rustic country decor has taken a new twist.Rustic Chandelier

This has just become popular in the past few years. I’ve yet to hear a name for it, but I’m about to suggest that ‘up country’ says it plainly.

"Up county is upscale primitive."

The primitive and rustic pieces are created new and of the finest wood and craftsmanship, then distressed to look old through paint applications and techniques, sanding and flinging the piece against the wall or hitting it with chains.

Now you might think that’s a little extreme, but I’ve seen ‘primitive country artists’ flog beautifully made coffee tables with chunks of steel!

These pieces go great in a room with antique-look signs or new, but rustic, hardware.

Other Styles to Rustic Country Decor

  • Prim country is most popular in painted pieces.
  • Furniture, window frames and chandeliers that were once painted white, or the softest hues of yellow, blue or sage green.
  • The paint is finely crackled through years of use or neglect.

You can make these pieces yourself for pennies on the dollar had you bought it new. You make them look realistic using a crackle paint treatment and some sandpaper – wearing down the areas that might be worn naturally over years of use.

If you can find it, skip over the standard Behr Crackle paint and grab the paint product that will give you a truer crackle. It’s often called “porcelain crackle” among artists as it will give a ‘crazed’ finish such as you’d see on old china dishes. This is the product you need for the rustic decor project finish that won’t scream “cheap”, “junk”, or factory made. Trust me I’ve been making and selling products from both ends of the scale for the last 15 years.

Making it Look Rustic – Even If It’s New!

With my past business partner I learned many ‘aging’ tricks of the trade and I’m happy to pass these on to you, because it’s fun to do and a great creative outlet. We have since parted ways however as her business model was to sell a lot of factory made junk to tourists – my business model was to create a better quality of rustic art.

But best quality doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg if you’re on a tight decorating budget. If you love the primitive decorating style, and you’re willing to add a little of your own elbow grease, you can inexpensively get the look you want. A little time on your hands and a few paint supplies.

Make Your Own Rustic Decor Accents

To make your own pieces ‘on the cheap’ you will need to invest the time into scouting out some classic older pieces at flea markets, second hand stores, garage sales, and country auctions. Stay out of those kitchy, country decor stores that are popping up in every small town where the labels on the products all say “Made in a factory that isn’t your home country.”

Once you have the furniture or wood piece at home you may need to repair wobbly legs, apply a faux finish, change the color, apply a little crackling mixture from your local home decorating store, sand down the corners, and so on.

Soon you’ll have the down-home appeal that is 100% to your tastes and matching the color schemes already present in your home.

Decorating Country Primitive

It all begins with inspiration and learning, decorating with what you already have and a passion for decorating.

Our home was very primitive (partly because the exterior has the appearance of a shabby rundown farmhouse – and we were working on refinishing the exterior, but a country fire took the house and contents. Today we’re building a log home.)

Inside the farmhouse, I began with some beautiful Better Homes and Gardens books and magazines, and brought my own style into the rooms.

Believe me, I’m no one special when it comes to decorating, and I’m definitely without training in this regard – but people loved to visit and see what my current projects and upcoming decorating projects are next – if I can do it, so can you!

Or click here to see my favorite books on rustic country decor inspiration.

About Laura Childs

Country Living enthusiast Laura Childs was a downtown city girl for many years before heading to the hills to live a sustainable lifestyle, raise her daughter, get back to the land, and learn the time tested traditions of a simpler era.

Throughout her farm life adventures of raising animals, working from home, home schooling her daughter, and being more green, Laura Childs has been sharing on the GoodByeCityLife website through articles and personal musings since 1998.

Connect with Laura Childs


  1. Great point, thanks for sharing that. I’ll be back again soon, I hope to see some more great content in the future from you!

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