6 Easy and Inexpensive Ways to Fake a Rustic Interior

April 5, 2016

6sqft’s series Apartment Living 101 is aimed at helping New Yorkers navigate the challenges of creating a happy home in the big city. This week, Gabrielle Montoute of Fueled, a digital product design and development incubator, shares six ways to create a rustic interior in your apartment without spending a lot of money.

If you haven’t noticed, rustic is all the rage. From restaurants to weddings to clothes, it’s all about taking something old and giving it new life—or taking something new and making it look vintage. While recreating this style at home may seem like an expensive undertaking, it’s only deceptively so. We’ve dissected the trend and determined six simple and inexpensive ideas that will help you achieve this look at home.

Reclaimed Wood 

The idea of using old wood from a bowling alley, a barn or a even a ship is an idea that used to sound crazy, but in recent years reclaimed wood has become the preferred material for many designers thanks to its beautiful, aged and sophisticated look—as well as for its strength, which is typically better than new wood, often sourced from young trees.

Use reclaimed wood for just about anything from floors to cabinets to custom dining sets. It’s also great for framing photos and mirrors and works beautifully as a bedroom headboard.

Whether you are looking to buy to build or want some old pieces that are finished and ready to be integrated into your decor, these retailers are a few of the best resources in the city:

Also be sure to check out 6sqft’s past guide, The Best Places to Find Antique and Vintage Furniture in NYC, for more places to buy secondhand furniture. And if you’re not into the hunt but happen to be handy, DIY Pete has a great how-to for constructing a “rustic farm table” from new materials for under $200. Details here.

Image via Livinator

Faux Stone and Brick 

Everyone knows that wall treatments can completely transform a home—and a trend we keep seeing is stacked rough stone and exposed brick. Unlike a normal tile, rough stone and brick have distinctive textures, giving something like a kitchen personality and making it look one-of-a-kind and professional.

stone panels

While achieving this look sounds like it would be prohibitively expensive on most budgets (not to mention an incredible physical effort to do on one’s own), local retailers like Home Depot and Lowe’s are now sell faux but true-to-life-looking stone and brick sheets that can be applied to walls just like wallpaper. The panels are installed with screws, glue and can be cut easily with a hand saw or electric saw. They can also be mitered to create inside or outside corners or you can buy pre-molded corners.

Lowe’s and Home Depot carry a variety of styles, but for even more options, we recommend checking out FauxPanels.com.

Mason Jars 

Mason jars are everywhere nowadays and for good reason—they’re the cheap, stylish and can easily create a rustic centerpiece. You can easily turn them into soap dispensers, organizers, candle holders, cups, vases, or—if you want to get really crazy—you can use them for their original purpose, as a way to can and preserve food.

Line a bunch up on a kitchen shelf filled with spices or dry food to create a focal point in that space. Hildblue also has a great DIY idea that’s also extremely handy for cooks: A hanging Mason jar shelf.

Images: Handles via FirstFinds on Etsy, burlap chair decor idea via At Designs, Mason jar lamp with twine tie via MasonJarLampsandMore on Etsy

Twine and Burlap 

To really bring the rustic aesthetic to the next level, try using twine. Twine and burlap are both inexpensive and can quickly upgrade the look of your kitchen.

You can wrap twine around your kitchen cabinet handles to achieve a vintage look. Burlap can be used to reupholster chairs, or pieces of it around wine bottles to make them match. We also love Amy Allender’s idea of wrapping twine around ugly second-hand lamps to make them more attractive (just choose a darker lampshade to create a more rustic aesthetic over a nautical one).


Twigs, Tree Branches and Whole Trees 

Channel your inner bird and use found branches to nest votive candle holders or to create frames. If you want to do something really unique, consider integrating an entire fallen tree into your decor and outfit it with lights and other ornaments to suit the season. Fallen trees and branches can be easily found after storms, particularly in areas outside of the city like Upstate, Jersey and Connecticut. Do not cut the branches of trees in your neighborhood or park—this is environmentally irresponsible and beyond that, it’s illegal.


The rustic aesthetic is all about nostalgia and what’s more nostalgic than chalkboard? Chalkboard paint is available at any hardware or art supply store for under $20 and you’ll never run out of reasons to use it. Create everything from labels on individual cups or jars, to a board for notes and shopping lists, to painting a backsplash for a fun accent.

If you really want to go bold with the chalkboard paint, you can eliminate the need for sticky notes by painting your entire fridge.


What makes the rustic aesthetic so exciting is that it mixes the DIY craze with classic design elements. The rustic aesthetic is all about staying modern while also being retro and using items, new and old, in a creative and grassroots way.

The homemade, do-it-yourself mindset is also what makes a rustic home so fun, so bring your kitchen into present by using elements inspired by the past.


Lead image: Chef Keith McNally’s rustic kitchen in his Greenwich Village home, now selling for $14M

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