4 Ways to Use Distressed Wood for a Rustic Home Décor

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It seems everywhere you turn today you see stainless steel appliances and sleek home designs that create modern, clean spaces. While that is a very fashionable look, the flip side to this genre of home décor is something a bit more eclectic, and what some might call “rustic”.

If you prefer something a little more rustic, then you’ll fall in love with distressed wood for your kitchen cabinets, rustic floors, wall paneling and furniture. If you are in search of distressed wood for your home, we’ve found a few gems to jump-start your research.

Cabinets

There are many types of cabinets you might install in your home. Kitchen cabinets are usually the first priority, but then you may consider cabinets for the bathroom and perhaps a walk-in closet or pantry, as well.

If you prefer a more rustic cabinet design, distressed wood is a great option and there a couple ways to create this look. The simplest way is to use antique, reclaimed or salvaged wood, which has an abundance of natural color variation, character and rustic charm. Some cabinet manufacturers also offer techniques to hand-distress the wood to create character. You can also use faux finish techniques for a distressed or antique effect. We’ll show you some examples of each.

Two bathrooms with reclaimed wood cabinets
Left: Eclectic Bathroom by Portland Photographers Whitney Lyons. Right: Eclectic Bathroom by Danville General Contractors Gayler Construction.

Reclaimed Wood

Characteristics of reclaimed woodSalvaged wood, like barn wood or oak antique flooring, can be used to build cabinet doors when you want natural color and character. Every hole, stain, crack and color variation was created over decades of natural aging in a floor joist or beam in a factory or barn. In some cases, like the project below, you may even get original paint added to the mix. This look is primitive but charming and as authentic as you could possibly be.

When considering antique wood, make sure you have an understanding of the variety of character and color you are going to get, as well as the rough texture you should expect.

Faux Distressing

Faux distressing is a technique to alter the surface appearance of the wood – to create imperfections and make new cabinets look slightly more distressed. Examples of the methods used can be seen from Wood-Mode Custom Cabinetry.

Faux Finishes

Faux finishes are another way to distress wood. This involves applying a series of finishes to the wood to create a multi-tone effect. Normally you notice the darker color underneath, with a lighter color applied on top, then carefully but randomly scraped or rubbed off to create variations and avoid any kind of pattern in the final finish.

There are other areas where distressed cabinetry might go well with your home décor. Perhaps some built-in cabinetry for a wet bar or rec room. Notice the antique finished wood as an inset in a more modern, monochromatic border; a great choice of rustic, distressed cabinetry in a more modern setting.

Reclaimed wood cabinets
left: Contemporary Home Bar by Eagle General Contractors Meadow Mountain Homes. Right: Mediterranean Family Room by Miami Interior Designers & Decorators Margaux Interiors

Alternatively, you have an oversized hutch like this media room above.It looks like it was salvaged from an antique shop and fits in perfectly with the mediterranean decor.

Wood Floors

If you prefer a rustic, ecelectic look for your home, distressed wood flooring will be a perfect choice. We’ll look at two of the most authentic ways to create the right effect.

Reclaimed Flooring

Reclaimed wood flooring, also known as Antique Flooring, is available in a variety of species. The rich amber hues and dark original saw marks of Reclaimed Grandpa’s Floor make for a stunning backdrop.

Three examples of reclaimed wood flooring
Left: Rustic Wood Flooring and Wall Paneling from Carlisle Wide Plank Floors. Middle: Reclaimed Oak Wood Flooring from Carlisle Wide Plank Floors. Right: Reclaimed Grandpa’s Flooring, Rustic Wood Flooring from Carlisle Wide Plank Floors.

Reclaimed Oak is also a popular option because of the inherent durability of oak wood flooring, but also the variety of the nutty brown and gold tones and rustic character.

Hand-Distressed Wood Flooring

Antique wood can be very rustic and unpredictable, and it can also be slightly more expensive. If you want to control the character of the floor a bit more, or if you want to reign in your costs, there are other ways to create this look.

Hand-distressed hardwood flooring
Left: Watermill Eastern White Pine Flooring From Carlisle Wide Plank Floors. Right: Dark Wood Flooring and Distressed Wood Flooring from Carlisle Wide Plank Floors, Telluride, CO Residence.

Watermill distressing, as seen in this rustic Eastern White Pine floor, displays the original saw marks from when the log was first sawn. The edges are then hand-scraped and the floor lightly sanded to create variations in color and texture. If you like the look of antique cut nails, you can easily install them to further enhance the authentic look.

If you want a more durable floor, then you can also apply this distressing technique to hardwood flooring, like the Walnut dark wood flooring from Telluride, CO.

Wall & Ceiling Paneling

If you are considering the walls and ceilings for your home, you might be thinking only of paint colors or wallpapers. But you can add rustic charm to your vertical surfaces as well, with wall and ceiling paneling. This billiard room, for example, uses reclaimed flooring for both the wall paneling and wainscoting.

Furniture

From a rustic headboard for the master suite, coffee tables paired with the leather sofa, and a farmhouse dining table for the family, you can find distressed wood furniture for every room of the house. Some companies actually use reclaimed wood flooring planks to build furniture, like this coffee table from Sierra Living Concepts. This would go well in retro, industrial or farmhouse style décor.

Distressed wood tables
Left: Rustic Coffee Tables by Fremont Furniture & Accessories Sierra Living Concepts. Right: Farmhouse Dining Tables by Oak Park Furniture & Accessories EcoFirstArt.
Distressed wood headboards
Left: Traditional Beds by Lawsonville Furniture & AccessoriesFable Porch Furniture. Right: Eclectic Beds by Chattanooga Furniture & AccessoriesSmartFurniture.

In the dining room, you’ll find tables in a variety of shapes and colors. But a traditional rectangular table is the most authentic. This charming farmhouse table from EcoArt was crafted to replicate an authentic 19th-century French farmhouse table.

Reclaimed wood kitchen countertop
Traditional Kitchen by Houston Photographers Carl Mayfield Architectural Photographer

If your bedroom is going to be relaxed and casual, a distressed headboard would be a great focal point for your master suite. Faux distressing, like this set from Fable Porch Furniture, gives you the look of naturally distressed wood, where paint has faded and eroded over time. Or you can use reclaimed and salvaged wood for a charming, authentic design.

Countertops

A rustic wood countertop could be a great addition to your front entry to drop your keys off on. Perhaps your half-bath could take on a more rustic look style countertop. And of course your kitchen island…just imagine an old farmhouse sink set in some rustic wood planks as a central focal point to your kitchen design.

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How do you use distressed wood in your home decor?
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