How to Create a Rustic Kitchen – and What Separates It from a Retro Kitchen

The latest trends in kitchen design are once again looking backwards. More and more homeowners are appreciating the comfortable, nostalgic look and feel of vintage designs. It’s not hard to guess why; we’ve all been spending a lot more time in our homes this past year. If a vintage kitchen tickles your fancy, though, what’s the best way to scratch that itch when you upgrade your cooking space? Digging out a style magazine from the 70s is probably not the best approach. The hottest vintage kitchen styles combine the best of multiple eras into one harmonious whole. To get more specific, two particularly popular approaches right now are rustic and retro kitchen concepts. What separates the two, and what’s involved in bringing one of these styles into your home?

The Rustic Kitchen

There’s considerable breadth within the blanket term of the “rustic kitchen.” There are still certain common elements that unite all rustic looks, from French farmhouse to English country cottage. Here are the concepts that scream “rustic kitchen”.


To bring a rustic design to life, you’ll want to look for subtle, natural colours. Neutral tones, like creams, can create an earthy look, while pastels can create a lively, whimsical feel. In a rustic kitchen, it’s especially useful to coordinate colours between floors and Zen Stone worktops. A pale wood floor, for example, would be ideal with light granite or beige marble.


Rustic kitchens tend to feature lots of visibility. Wide counters (usually stone) and open shelving concepts fit right in. To preserve sightlines without letting dust collect, glazed cabinet fronts are popular. Surfaces throughout the rustic kitchen show impressive texture and details, so you need to carefully examine the materials and detailing used on your worktops and cabinets.


The ideal rustic kitchen is a large room and an open one. Though the big farm table is less common in modern kitchens, many rustic designs echo the ample flat space with an oversized island. To stick with the table idea, you’ll want to emphasize island seating. Rustic principles can still be used in smaller kitchens; smart use of height can make up for limited floor space. Using free-standing and customised units can minimise the amount of space needed and keep the feel of an “organic” kitchen that’s evolved over time.


The rustic look thrives on soft textures and furnishings. These make the space feel long-used and comfortable. A rustic kitchen can still achieve a luxurious feeling with quality materials like stone and fine wood. Well-finished woodwork and granite can be organised to create rich texture spreads in a rustic kitchen.


Copious detail is the true hallmark of a well-executed rustic concept. Make the effort to seek out authentic vintage items to add interest. Crockery is always welcome in the rustic kitchen. For storage, look for older solutions, like trays, jugs, and baskets in natural materials. It is easier than you might think to find pieces that are stylish, functional, and perfectly suited to the rustic aesthetic!


Of course, no one wants to abandon modern conveniences for the sake of a rustic look. Consider how utilities that can’t be integrated into a retro country style could be concealed. Keep things like microwaves, freezers, and smart speakers out of view and instead direct attention to period-appropriate units and fixtures, like free-standing ovens, brass hardware or an old butler’s sink.

The Retro Kitchen

In contrast to the rural aesthetic discussed above, the retro kitchen is one that consciously reaches out to a refined historical style. A retro kitchen would harken back to the pop art styles of the 60s or the glamourous art deco design of the 20s. A retro kitchen usually succeeds when it is consistent and loyal to its inspiration. Clean lines and well-presented statement features are ideal for retro concepts.