10 rustic small kitchen ideas for a charming and cozy result

Embrace rustic small kitchen ideas with everything from wallpaper to lighting

Sandberg Wallpaper
(Image credit: Sandberg Wallpaper)

Rustic small kitchen ideas conjure feelings of hospitality, simplicity, and functionality. Rooted in traditional craftsmanship and Americana decor, rustic kitchens are often farmhouse and DIY-informed, with a dose of nature and nostalgia.  

Captivating the hearts of kitchen designers everywhere, a rustic design is best expressed through authenticity. For instance, instead of opting for too many farmhouse-style wood signs, decorating with real vintage furnishings can upgrade your small kitchen without veering too kitsch. 

Offering a versatile canvas that can be tailored to many different design styles, these small kitchen ideas have proven that elegance and charm can be one and the same. 

Ways to incorporate rustic charm into your small kitchen design

In a world of super-modernist kitchens, it's no wonder why many gravitate towards the refined simplicity of rustic design. More than just a passing trend, many find this unique blend of functionality, tradition, and charm to be a great way to create a warm and inviting space. 

From adding some vintage flair to painting over your kitchen cabinets, there are plenty of ways to incorporate some authentic rustic charm when designing a small kitchen

1. Opt for vintage or vintage-inspired lighting

White kitchen with black light fixture and kitchen island

(Image credit: Sierra Living Concepts)

A striking way to incorporate more rustic charm into your kitchen design is by opting for vintage details. An easy way to pull this off is with your small kitchen lighting. Try adding a vintage-looking chandelier, like this wagon wheel light fixture available from Wayfair.

"Go for easy lighting options such as Edison bulb pendant so that it adds an instant rustic flavor to your design," suggests interior designer Artem Kropovinsky. 

Artem Kropovinsky
Artem Kropovinsky

Artem Kropovinsky is an interior design expert and founder of Arsight, an award-winning interior design studio based in New York.

2. Don't stray away from color

Green kitchen cabinets with black sink

(Image credit: Wayfair)

Minimalist and neutral kitchens are great however rustic is all about boho small kitchen ideas

Bright or bold colors (like these bright yellow kitchen utensils available at Amazon) are a great way to add a bit of shabby chic to your kitchen design. 

Opting for vintage-inspired colors, such as the orange tints of the 1970s, is also a great way to inject some nostalgia into your space. 

3. Try wallpaper with classic designs

Black and white striped wallpaper in kitchen

(Image credit: Sandberg Wallpaper)

Wallpaper has the power to change the entire look and feel of your kitchen. A great way to incorporate more color or pattern, wallpapered walls can transform your space. You can even try it if you're renting with easy peel-and-stick wallpaper like this black and white striped design from Amazon.

Opting for more traditional colors and patterns, such as stripes or florals (like this LoveShackFancy floral wallpaper available from Wayfair) in navy blues, light yellows, or light greens, can add to an Americana-inspired kitchen design. 

4. Use vintage furnishings

Furniture unit in turquoise blue

(Image credit: Sierra Living Concepts)

Rustic design and vintage furnishings are a match made in heaven. For the kitchen, bigger vintage pieces, such as a vintage kitchen island or china cabinet, do more than transform the look of your space — they also contribute to adding more storage

If you're not sure where to start looking for thrifted furniture pieces, we round-ed up all of our favorite Thrifttok accounts on TikTok for inspiration.

You can't go wrong with having more space for your wine glasses or pantry items with some small space furniture

5. Embrace natural elements

Vintage white sink filled with lemons

(Image credit: Vintage Tub & Bath)

Sticking with natural textures and materials will continue the rustic appeal. "Embrace nature and all the materials it has to offer," professional organizer Marie-Hélène Riverain advises. Look for all your small kitchen must-haves in natural materials like wooden utensils (like this acacia utensil set from Amazon) or stoneware dishes.

"Think earthy tones, reclaimed wood, burlap accents. Keep it simple and functional. Even the smallest touches, like twine around a mason jar or a single flower in a glass bottle, will infuse your kitchen with timeless rustic charm and a cozy atmosphere." 

Marie-Hélène Riverain
Marie-Hélène Riverain

Marie-Hélène Riverain is the Founder of Love and Order, a home and life organizing company based in Los Angeles.

6. Dark paints and metals

Dark wooden kitchen shelving unit

(Image credit: Wayfair)

Because rustic design typically embraces all things warm, natural, and traditional, dark color tones and metals blend seamlessly with this style. Dark colors can even be one of the best colors to paint a small kitchen.

Metals like wrought iron, copper, and bronze are also frequently featured in rustic-style fixtures, hardware, and accessories. Rugged elements, including weathered or aged finishes, contribute to rustic design's time-worn appeal. 

Look for industrial features, like this dark wood shelving unit from Wayfair, to add more kitchen storage.

7. Opt for traditional details

White kitchen with wooden island

(Image credit: The RTA Store)

Opting for timeless home decor instead of ultra-modern or contemporary designs can contribute to creating a rustic aesthetic for your small kitchen. 

Consider metal cabinet pulls, like these cabinet pulls from Wayfair, that showcase traditional design elements, crafted from rustic materials like black metal or adorned with an aged finish. 

These choices not only contribute to the overall theme but also impart a timeless and weathered charm to the kitchen space. Attention to detail, such as food storage containers, also becomes crucial in creating a cohesive design. 

8. Wood and imperfections are a bonus

Kitchen with wooden cabinets

(Image credit: Country Kitchens Online.)

Rather than trying to remove every countertop stain or paint over every cabinet flaw, rustic interiors are about embracing the flaws. For this reason, weathered decor, well-worn painted furnishings, and untreated wood are par for the course. 

Leave your kitchen features bare for a classic look. An unfinished design makes for a great small kitchen cabinet idea to encompass a rustic style.

9. Feature display shelving

White shelving unit with coffee maker and dishes

(Image credit: Reeds Furniture)

Installing furnishings like open shelving or an open-shelved china cabinet will allow you to display more well-worn and vintage-inspired decor. This white storage unit from Wayfair will hold everything you need and look great in your small kitchen. 

More than a practical storage solution, these furnishings and kitchen shelves can help create a cohesive rustic kitchen design. 

10. Incorporate Americana decor

Wooden storage unit with books and pictures

(Image credit: Bed Bath And Beyond)

When adding on the final touches to your rustic small kitchen design, consider the many different ways to decorate your space. 

From adding framed paintings and cheap wall art to adding storage baskets, extra decor is a great way to express your personal style. and add on to the rustic design of your dreams. 

Greenery is also a great way to add a lived-in charm to your small kitchen. Stock up on the best houseplants for small spaces and add them to shelves or windowsills. 

Rustic small kitchen buys

There are a few simple products to add to your small kitchen for a charming, rustic look. With a few added bits of home decor, you can quickly incorporate small kitchen trends in no time. 

Prices were correct at the time of publishing.


I have a brand new small kitchen. How can I incorporate more rustic elements?

In new small kitchens, the new appliances can sometimes clash with rustic design elements. Instead of creating a collage of new and vintage that doesn't quite fit together, consider making changes to the walls and decorative elements first. This might mean painting the walls or applying wallpaper to set the tone for what you are aiming to achieve. 

I'm in a rental. Can I still have a rustic small kitchen design?

The best advice for transforming your rental kitchen into a rustic slice of heaven is to start where you can. Even the smallest of details (like changing cabinet pulls or applying peel-and-stick wallpaper) can make a major change to the look and feel of your small kitchen. 

Embracing the warmth and inviting feelings that rustic design can conjure is a great guiding design philosophy to create the kitchen of your dreams, as long as you follow these common small kitchen design rules.

This design style can go hand-in-hand with other kitchen interior styles, including decorating with neutral tones or incorporating bohemian style.

From incorporating elements of nature to having fun with color, a rustic look is a great option when choosing what type of kitchen design you desire. 

Kate Santos

Hello! I’m Kate Santos, a writer and photographer based in Los Angeles. In the design world, I got my start working as an Editorial Intern for Dwell magazine in San Francisco. Since then, I’ve written about design and architecture in many national magazines and online publications, including Playboy, Hunker, and The Culture Trip.

I grew up in a very old house in North Carolina and am still influenced by the rustic, charming, antique and aged elements of a home. Sustainability and longevity is extremely important to me and I believe learning to reuse materials or purchasing items you’ll love forever goes a long way. I also lean towards the Japanese philosophy of wabi-sabi when designing my own home, embracing the perfectly imperfect items I can find.