Wrap your kitchen in the worn, welcoming beauty of rustic cabinetry. These examples are sure to spark ideas for bringing the look home.

By Jan Soults Walker
May 11, 2016

A wall of knotty pine pantry cabinets brings rustic charm and a golden glow to this kitchen, where a lack of ceiling exposes joists as rugged companions. Although the white cabinets are new, the distressed surface and finish render a look that appears authentic and old. You can achieve a similar look by marring a cabinet surface with various tools and painting with chalk paint, milk paint, a thin glaze, or white stain. Lightly sand away the finish wherever natural wear occurs, such as around knobs or pulls and along cabinet edges.

Aged Treasure

Even if your home is new, it doesn't have to look it. Repurpose old, banged-up finds and incorporate them into your kitchen for an authentic, rustic feel. This kitchen island, for example, was a nail bin in a country hardware store. The new cabinets are dressed in old wood faces for one-of-a-kind vintage style. Plank flooring, salvaged from an old barn, completes this space with warm, primitive charm.

In the Groove

Using vintage materials gives kitchen cabinetry rustic appeal. This kitchen features rustic cabinetry fashioned from tongue-and-groove paneling that's instantly "aged" with a subtle veil of whitewash. For variety, beaded tongue-and-groove panels add detail to the backsplash and behind upper shelves.

Barn Again

Barn doors are all the rage these days, prized for their rustic character and weathered painted finish. So why not let the look inspire rustic cabinet doors? A nearby historic barn prompted these rustic cabinet doors that are actually fronts for the built-in refrigerators. Dark glaze ages the soft blue-gray color of the cabinet fronts and settles into the grooves and imperfections, drawing out the primitive details. The arched rustic cabinet above balances the design.

Whitewashed Wonder

Furniture left to weather and wear over many years, even decades, exudes an eye-pleasing patina like no other. The cabinetry in this kitchen gains similar rustic influence with a gentle wash of white. To create the look, brush thin, white glaze onto a small section of the cabinet surface, then quickly wipe it off with a clean, lint-free rag. The glaze settles into the grain pattern, drawing out the natural beauty of the wood as well as imperfections.

Farm Table Transformation

Rather than using cabinetry as a kitchen island, bring in a worn, old farm table as a heartwarming hub with rustic appeal. This one retains its peeling paint and imperfections but gains the addition of casters so the island can easily relocate if needed. Wheels also add height to accommodate seating.

Rural Rescue

Wood salvaged from old homes and other buildings makes ideal material for building rustic cabinetry for your kitchen. These beautiful cabinet doors and drawer fronts proudly retain variations in wood tone from weather and years of wear. Nail holes only add to the rugged character. Long, sleek chrome pulls provide a touch of urban chic.

Saving Grace

Search salvage yards and flea markets for discarded doors or door frames and repurpose them as rustic cabinets for your kitchen. This built-in china cabinet takes on primitive character with the addition of well-aged door frames. Pristine white paint on the base drawers and surrounding walls helps set the doors apart as a focal point.

Reclaimed Notions

Scour flea markets and yard sales and rethink your finds as potential candidates for creating a rustic kitchen. The substantial sink in this kitchen cleanup station, for example, is a vintage baby-bathing sink salvaged from a hospital. It rests atop an old, white-painted desk that once served in a redwood mill. The shelf above is an old hutch top. Antique French tiles fill the space between. Wide, whitewashed boards serve as a worn counter for the adjacent peninsula.

Boarded Beauty

The rustic character of shiplap walls and a wood plank ceiling repeats on the front of this kitchen island. Here, boards sport a whitewash similar to the walls for continuity, while the columns and baseboard stand out in white paint, emphasizing the look of old-house architectural elements.


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