Rustic Kitchen Design – How much is too much?

I came across this image below of a truly rustic kitchen built in an old mill in the Yucatan and featured in Architectural Digest Germany. I was reminded of the old stone farmhouse I featured a couple of weeks ago.

Muñoz Arquitectos photo by Rubin Ortiz AD Germany Yukatan Rustic Kitchen
Muñoz Arquitectos photo by Rubin Ortiz AD Germany

This kitchen above – what do you think? Dirty looking or completely cool? I was initially going to write a post about Wabi Sabi style (the appreciation of aging or degrading surfaces and things), but it morphed into more about whether some styles can be too much and how to get the feel of a particular style – in this case Rustic Kitchen – within your own specific taste and preference level.  I will say – I love the tall walls and the light coming in from the ceiling and the highly polished floors. But in general, this is too much for me.

Lauren Liess design Rustic Kitchen
Lauren Liess design

One of my favorite designers working today is Lauren Liess in Virginia. We interviewed Lauren several years ago in our Skirted Roundtable podcast. This is her own kitchen. Lauren has a wonderful way of mixing old and new, rustic and high style. The French Bistro style light fixtures, mixed with rustic open shelving, beamed ceiling and drawer fronts is unexpected and raises the “rustic” up a notch.

Photo Nicolas Tosi Elle Decoration France rustic kitchen
Photo Nicolas Tosi | Elle Decoration France

This rustic kitchen above, featured in Elle Decoration France, is a mix of rustic and modern and shows how well they can co-exist in a design.


Marie-Laure Helmkampf design Old Mill Rustic Kitchen
Marie-Laure Helmkampf design

Marie-Laure Helmkampf is a French designer who created this love rustic kitchen in an old mill building. This has the gorqeous original stone walls, but has a refinement that comes from the clean surfaces and lines of the counters and cabinets.


Dana Wolter Interiors Rustic Kitchen 1
Dana Wolter Interiors

Another warm kitchen which I love is this by designer Dana Wolter. This is another example of warm woods mixed with sleeker materials. This is not at all rustic in my view – but has all the warm of a rustic space.

Dana Wolter Interiors Rustic Kitchen 2
Dana Wolter Interiors

And now we take an extreme left turn – clean, crisp and spare design with a little touch of warmth on the floor and butcher block counter.

Hecker Guthrie design Australia clean white rustic kitchen
Hecker Guthrie design


Which begs the question:

This Or that rustic or modern kitchen

I’d love to hear your thoughts!

12 thoughts on “Rustic Kitchen Design – How much is too much?”

  1. Great post, Linda! SO I’ve narrowed it down to Benjamin Dhong (mostly I love that cabinet!), Dana Wolter – I like the warmth and simplicity of it, and Jeffrey Dungan – I’m not sure why…I do love the windows, and I’m intrigued by what looks like a potfiller in the island next to the cooktop, though I can’t decide if that’s a good idea or completely crazy. I’m not a fan of too minimalist, and the Yucatan one is interesting to look at but I certainly wouldn’t want it! Fun tour of the various options and a great study in the effect the warmth of wood textures has on the overall design!

    • Hi Janet – thanks so much for commenting! I like Jeffrey Dungan’s kitchen as well, though not a huge fan of the pot filler. It seems a bit random on an island with no sink, though am not sure why because they are common with a sink. Hmm… It’s different, which is of course what a good designer brings to the mix!

  2. OMG Linda, what a wonderful collection of rustic kitchens. My favorite is the Benjamin Dhong kitchen – the apothecary cabinet is to die for!

    I love the drama of some of the more extreme kitchens, like the one in AD Germany, but the actual upkeep would be daunting for the average homeowner.

    such a great short course in rustic – thank you!

  3. As long as the walls are well sealed up above, it might to be too bad. Otherwise, I’d be wary of falling plaster and dust..You wouldn’t normally see the whole two or three story height when you were working in the kitchen so it wouldn’t distract like it does in the photo. I guess, whatever floats your boat is the answer. It IS a special place that couldn’t be replicated without a lot of fuss.

    • Thank you! And yes, they are so special! I hate to see him in pain (he was in terrible pain initially) and walking with assistance. He should be running and jumping! Have a great weekend!

  4. Linda

    The first one is lovely- in a “holiday break in Provence” sort of way: I don’t have to clean anything except sink, countertops and floor while I’m there. But crikey, can you imagine having to get the spiders’ webs down, and the insect infestations you might have stored up in that lovely crumbling-brick effect? And the heating costs in the winter?? And the risks of major injury falling from the ladders necessary for cleaning the fans?

    I love open shelving done well – but when redoing my own small London kitchen (12’ x 8’) this year, I decided against it, because of the cleaning involved. I just had to be practical and see my life as it really is. Deep sigh…

    I also think that your alternative would be too stark for me. I was talked into a very streamlined modern kitchen in 2010, and while the simplicity was quite soothing, it also didn’t speak to me – or OF me (sorry -iPad doesn’t allow italics for emphasis).

    But if I could choose one company to make me my dream kitchen, it would be these people. It’s an English company and utterly beautiful in my eyes across their whole range. My choice would be dictated by which dream house I was putting my dream kitchen into! I’ve at least made a start: I won £5.60 (about $8?) on the lottery last night!

    I’m really enjoying your blog – thanks for posting!


    • Hi Denise – Oh, Devol Kitchens are wonderful! And you’re right about cleaning up in the eves of that kitchen. It’s in Mexico, so heating probably isn’t a huge issue like it is in the UK or here in the New England. It WOULD be a wonderful vacation spot though!

  5. Hello and thank you!

    I’m so glad to have found your blog. I loved reading from your tips, that it is nice to have a theme–but do not create a theme park. The very rustic (and black moldy?) looking kitchen is too much for me. Were I to have the money to actually renovate a castle (the kitchen reminds me of an old castle) I would clean it up much more than the photo appears. I’m assuming that the effect was intentional.

    May I ask your opinion on three items seen often these days, but only once or twice in the photos you shared? I am not a fan if any of them: 1) pot fillers over a stove, 2) rustic wooden vent hoods, and 3) cooktops on islands.

    Thank you again!
    Suzy Roeder

    • Hi Suzy – and welcome! Regarding your three items – I understand how pot fillers can be helpful to avoid half the water carrying, but I’d rather they figure out how to avoid carrying the boiling water back to the sink. I think they’d be helpful in a professional pasta kitchen, but otherwise, not something I’d feel the need for. Re: the rustic wood hoods – meh – they are fine, but you’d need to have a really good ventilation system to keep the grease at bay. Re: cooktops on islands – I guess it depends on the kitchen setup. For instance, some kitchens are large enough for two islands, so one devoted to cooking makes sense. But, not if you also want people to sit there.

      Have a great weekend!


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