Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
Homes & Gardens
Homes & Gardens
Pippa Blenkinsop

Modern rustic kitchen cabinet ideas –13 stylish yet functional designs that blend old with new

Modern rustic kitchen cabinet ideas - Vitruvius & Co kitchen with cabinet doors clad in reclaimed timber.

Modern rustic kitchen cabinets are a wonderful choice for those looking to create characterful kitchens with a nod to traditional country style, but which still feel fresh and contemporary. Kitchen cabinets are a big investment, so it’s best to choose a durable design that will stand the test of time. However, they’re also a huge part of the visual appeal of your kitchen and will have a big impact on the look and feel of your space, so choose your door design wisely. 

From traditional timber designs to industrial corrugated metal, we’ve rounded up an array of modern rustic kitchen cabinet looks to get you inspired. 

What is modern rustic kitchen style?

Increasingly popular, the modern rustic look is characterized by its mix of old and new, bringing together aged surfaces and subdued colors with sleek, sophisticated design. The result is a relaxed look with a nod to history but which still feels timeless and fresh. The key to a modern rustic kitchen design is striking the right balance. While rustic country kitchens have their nostalgic charm, an abundance of traditional furniture, wooden surfaces and vintage fabrics can cause interior spaces to feel dated, so it’s important to offset these with contemporary elements to freshen the look. 

When it comes to modern rustic kitchen cabinet ideas wood is a go-to door material for creating a warm, aged look. Durable and sustainable, there are a huge array of species of wood and finishes available from light beech to dark walnut. However, if wood is not for you then painted cabinets, laminates and even metal can work as part of the modern rustic aesthetic. 

To establish which kitchen cabinet style is best for your space it’s a good idea to take a lead from the architecture. If your space is awash with rustic surfaces and aged architectural features then a sleek, paired-back cabinet design can make a pleasing contrast. Alternatively, if you have a newly built, boxy space then try a cabinet door with varied grain and patina such as reclaimed wood which will bring essential texture to the stark space.

1. Embrace the beauty of natural timber

(Image credit: Shannon Tate Interiors / Photograph Joyelle West)

Natural timber surfaces are a signature feature of a modern rustic kitchen. Taking inspiration from Mediterranean interiors, interior designer Shannon Tate-Giordano paired wood kitchen cabinets with salvaged antique doors to achieve a contemporary look with a holiday feel in this Massachusetts kitchen. 

‘My clients wanted their home to be inspired by Italy. I did a ton of research on properties in Italy and knew I wanted to work with wood cabinets. This home is steps from the beach on the Cape in Massachusetts, but inside you could be in a vacation rental on the Amalfi Coast or near Lake Como,' says Shannon Tate-Giordano

'I wanted the kitchen to give the clients all they needed in terms of modern function and storage in their summer cottage, but I also wanted it to feel like it had history. We paired white oak cabinetry with these beautiful doors from Italy that are from the 19th century.  These doors, along with the white oak cabinets, the paneled ceiling and beams, the flooring and styling, all lend themselves to a rustic feel.'

2. Choose cabinets clad with reclaimed timber planks

(Image credit: Vitruvius & Co / Sand & Stone Escapes )

The kitchen of this beautiful holiday home hosted by Sand & Stone Escapes is a masterclass in modern rustic style. Clad in reclaimed timber with distressed white paint, the cabinets bring wonderful texture to the open, lofty room. For a contemporary contrast, designer Guy Wengraf, founder of Vitruvius & Co, paired the base cabinets with a sleek run of handleless reeded wall cabinets to keep the space feeling fresh. 

‘We wanted the house to have a contemporary country feel so this kitchen is kind of mid-century rustic. There are mid-century references with the teak chairs and the reeded wall unit,’ says Guy Wengraf. ‘We chose marmorino pitted plaster walls, which look similar to travertine close-up. Alongside that we have the more country house references – the antique farmhouse table, the painted part of the kitchen, the stone floor and of course the reclaimed ceiling and kitchen cladding.’

3. Take inspiration from traditional cabinet designs

(Image credit: Blanc Marine Intérieurs / photograph Sylvie Li)

For this project, the designers at Blanc Marine Intérieurs looked to historic country furniture for inspiration. A base cabinet with sliding doors resembles a vintage wooden dresser unit, while a pantry-style glazed wall cabinet painted black gives a modern twist.

'This kitchen is in a charming country home and we wanted to recreate elements found in old houses such as wood cabinets, sliding cabinet doors, and pantries,' says Mélanie Cherrier, lead interior designer at Blanc Marine Intérieurs. 'We brought warmth and character by using a contrasting kitchen color palette and raw materials.'

4. Choose Shaker cabinets with wooden worktops

(Image credit: deVOL)

For a timeless feel, you can't go wrong with white Shaker kitchen cabinets as they work with myriad kitchen styles. For a more rustic look try pairing them with wooden worktops as done in this deVOL kitchen.

'We welcome mixed choices of worktops as they can help with budget, wood is also a little underrated and often seen as a difficult choice, says Helen Parker, deVOL's creative director. 'I have never understood the worry with wood, for me, it is warm and tactile, it is easy to keep supple and nourished with a little regular care and in return it gives you an ever-changing patina that gets better and better over time.'

5. Pair wood cabinets with black for a contemporary look

(Image credit: Sean Anderson Design, photograph Haris Kenjar)

The best modern rustic kitchens are all about balance. Having too many wood surfaces can cause a kitchen to look dated – to keep it feeling fresh try mixing wooden designs with cabinets in dark tones alongside dark kitchen countertops as done here by interior designer Sean Anderson.

'The effects of contrasting details in a space have become signature in our projects. This kitchen, in a gorgeous open-concept lake home, is perfect for entertaining. The wood tones, marbles, and patinaed brass hardware all play nicely together in contrast to the sweeping views of the lake from the opposite wall of windows,' says Sean Anderson. 'Rustic can typically be taken too far, but we chose this warm, custom-stained white oak wood, and paired it with a more masculine honed soapstone to make it feel soulful and timeless.'

6. Repurpose antique doors

(Image credit: Kristin Mullen Interiors / photograph Nathan Schroder )

Introducing antique elements into a kitchen design is a wonderful way to create a space with unique character. Here interior designer Krisitin Mullen cleverly turned salvaged windows into wall cabinet doors.

‘I found these antique windows in Provence and had the plaster surrounds custom-made to encase them. The juxtaposition of the creamy white plaster against the antique wood has such an appealing effect,’ says Kristin Mullen

7. Incorporate industrial materials

(Image credit: Roundhouse Kitchens)

While natural timber is a hallmark of the modern rustic kitchen, it’s not the only way to create character and texture – there are plenty of other materials that can achieve that raw, weathered look. For this kitchen set in a historic barn, Roundhouse contrasted old and new by pairing contemporary white cabinets with a modern rustic kitchen island clad in concrete and distressed corrugated iron.

‘A statement island is placed center stage in the new scheme and is encased in concrete for extra wow factor. Tactile, smooth and cold to the touch, concrete can make a striking and durable worktop material,’ says Roundhouse senior designer, Sam Hart. ‘To create an original look, one side of the base is finished with patinated panels of corrugated iron made by the owners. Concrete and iron are industrial materials, but when blended with the matt lacquer cabinetry, the overall look is softer and sits comfortably with the rustic beauty of the barn.’

8. Choose cabinets made from salvaged wood

(Image credit: Retrouvius / photograph Theo Tennant )

Using wood across wall cabinets, base cabinets and on countertops is a bold look that can risk appearing dated, however, here the salvage design company Retrouvius have pulled it off by mixing reclaimed woods of different varieties and tones. 

Small yet stylish and sustainable, the kitchen features base cabinets made from reclaimed parquet flooring and wall cabinets made from vintage wood picture frames. 'The wooden worktops are Iroko mostly salvaged from old municipal buildings,' adds Nicholas Hughes, art director and designer at Retrouvius. 

9. Try a sleek timber door design

(Image credit: deVOL)

With its sleek and simple door design composed of abutting raw beech wood planks, the Sebastian Cox kitchen from deVOL is perfect for modern rustic spaces such as industrial apartments or barn conversions. Instead of a paint or varnish finish, the planks are finished in a selection of tinted dyes to allow the rustic grain of the timber to remain visible – why not go for black for a contemporary edge?

10. Create a sophisticated look with dark wood cabinets

(Image credit: Ann Gottlieb, photograph Angela Newton Roy)

For a wooden kitchen with a contemporary edge try a dark timber door as done here by interior designer Ann Gottlieb. Not only do the dark cabinets help bring an intimate feel to the large white space, but they also complement the striking wooden ceiling beams.

'The client was dead set on having dark cabinets and wanted them to be solid wood for long-term durability,' says Ann Gottlieb. 'We decided on a cherry cabinet with an espresso stain to give that deep rich dark look with some wood texture in the distance.  We also went with thin framed cabinets to feel a little more modern with finer details.'

11. Switch cabinets for wall shelving

(Image credit: Julia Dempster)

If space is at a premium and you love the laid-back look why not switch wall cabinets for kitchen shelving? They are perfect for making small kitchens feel bigger, plus allow items to be quickly and easily retrieved.

‘I love using open shelves in kitchens as they can add drama but offer a practical solution as everything is at hand and can be viewed easily which was imperative in this kitchen in a guest house in Pacific Palisades,' says interior designer Julia Dempster. 'As a guest kitchen, it was a practical solution for guests who can see everything at hand without scouring closed cabinets.'

12. Switch door handles for rustic designs

(Image credit: Cohesively Curated, photograph Carina Skrobecki)

If budget is tight then simply updating hardware and kitchen handles can help give your kitchen cabinets rustic appeal. For a subtle touch of warm vintage charm to an otherwise neutral kitchen choose hardware for traditional designs in an aged brass finish as done here by Emily Ruff, founder of Cohesively Curated.

13. Switch fitted cabinets for freestanding furniture

(Image credit: Brent Darby)

Fully fitted kitchen cabinets are a wonderful way to make the most of your space, but they can cause your kitchen to look quite uniform. Introducing freestanding pieces of antique furniture is a wonderful way to break up fitted cabinetry to create a more characterful overall look. 

In this renovated Georgian cottage, antique furniture dealer Holly Clements of Hambledon Home added an antique kitchen sideboard to contrast with the white shaker cabinets elsewhere in her kitchen.


How do I make my kitchen cabinets look rustic?

Opting for wood kitchen cabinet doors or doors clad in reclaimed timber is a great way to make kitchen cabinets look rustic and to bring texture and softness to a stark space. However, this isn’t always the most practical choice as the wood can be tricky to clean. Alternatively, you could opt for a natural timber finished in an oil or varnish. 

If you’re looking for a quick update to existing cabinets then replacing modern handles for designs with an aged finish such as antique brass is a great way to bring warmth and character. You could also consider painting kitchen cabinets in muted, earthy colors such as a soft olive green or a brown; choosing a dark color such as black or charcoal can also tap into the rustic industrial look. 

How do you modernize a rustic kitchen?

If you’re looking to modernize rustic kitchen cabinets the quickest and easiest solution is often to freshen up cabinets with paint. If your kitchen is overwhelmed with dark wood then giving the doors a fresh lick of white paint can instantly make the space feel more modern and uplifting; or try a dark shade for an edgy look. Replacing kitchen worktops with a practical composite or quartz material in a light finish can bring practicality and a modern look to kitchen cabinets, or try switching the handles for sleek designs for a quick win.

Alternatively, if you’re looking to modernize kitchen cabinets in terms of how well they function then try retrofitting clever internal shelving solutions into the cabinets to help maximize kitchen storage

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.