Rustic Modern: Formal Is Out, Livability Is In

White ceramic bowls with removable cork bases. Photo by Shannon Zahnle

White ceramic bowls with removable cork bases. Photo by Shannon Zahnle

BY KAREN HOWE FERNANDEZ

“Rustic modern” (or “modern rustic”) is the term often used to describe not only a style of home décor, but a way of using space and, by extension, living in it. In general terms, says Sharon Fugate co-owner of Relish, “the foundation is livability, making more of our spaces.”

Corrugated cardboard drum light. Photo by Shannon Zahnle

Corrugated cardboard drum light. Photo by Shannon Zahnle

Rustic modern, she says, embraces open spaces with nonspecified uses. Gone is the formal dining room that sits empty, awaiting company. Instead, a room open to the kitchen might incorporate a table made of varied materials, perhaps a hammered copper top with a wooden base. And rather than a crystal chandelier, a wood and corrugated cardboard drum light may illuminate the space which functions as breakfast nook, homework station, and dining space for two or eight.

“The idea of ‘don’t touch that’ doesn’t exist in these spaces,” Fugate says, pointing out a geometric piece for the wall made of driftwood like sticks, which of course, she says, “begs to be touched.”

Fugate believes that the opposite of formal is livability. People live differently these days and less formality means lower maintenance and more time to enjoy the space, she says.

And the style is easily assimilated into almost any room. A decorative accent can update a traditional space, for example, the white ceramic bowls with removable cork bases that Fugate loves or the architectural wooden floor lamp that catches the movement of light and shadows in its angles even when unlit. “The spaces can evolve,” Fugate points out, which may be why rustic modern is here to stay.

The extensive use of wood, metal, and stone in rustic-modern furnishings helps blur the line between what belongs indoors or out. A spun concrete coffee table burnished black and shaped like a kettle drum works in front of a family room fireplace, or outside on a patio. Fugate explains that rustic-modern outdoor spaces consider the view into the house, as well as the view from inside to out.

Spun-concrete coffee table burnished black and shaped like a kettle drum. Photo by Shannon Zahnle

Spun-concrete coffee table burnished black and shaped like a kettle drum. Photo by Shannon Zahnle

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