He Wants Dark, Rustic Decor But She Really Doesn’t

Dear Laurel,

I’ve been searching for answers to this question.

My husband and I started building our home in Maine, and there is a backdrop of pines and a beautiful pond.

My question is:

Is there a way to bridge the gap between my husband wanting masculine and rustic decor with lots of wood and my love of blue and white with creamy white molding and whitewashed seaside colors?? 


This is our retirement home, and I really want him to be happy in this house he is building.


We have lots of snow and half year winter, so the beachside colors are definitely going to seem cold and out of place and yet rustic seems dark and suffocating to me. If you have a chance I would love some direction. 

Thanks so much,



Okay, this question about rustic decor with lots of wood is interesting for a lot of reasons.

The first one is that I came close to writing this about myself. For a little bit about that, please check out this Thanksgiving post. And, also, this Christmas post.

And, that’s all I’m going to say about that.


My next point is that I am feeling some concern here.


Jeanne says that they have started building.

Building what? It doesn’t sound like they are ready. Is it a log cabin? Is it a farmhouse? We don’t know. But, the part that’s worrying me is this: It sounds like you’ve started to build a home without having a solid plan.

My third point of interest is this part:


“This is our retirement home, and I really want him to be happy in this house he is building.”


Is the husband building this house on his own? Is he a builder? A contractor? I don’t know. And it doesn’t really matter. What matters is that you guys are married. Right? So, doesn’t he also want *you* to be happy in this house, too? Sure, there is often some compromising to be made. But, this is another excellent reason for working with a professional designer.


One thing I’ve come to realize after years of working with couples is this:


Many times, people and particularly men who haven’t been exposed to different types of design think they want things a certain way. However, once they see other ways of decorating, they’re okay with a more balanced room.

This happens a lot, not all of the time, but most of the time. And, it also was true for many women. When I was taking clients, one of the best parts for me was watching clients hone in on their taste and preferences.

Please note that there is a post that’s a little over two years old on a similar topic.(you should check it out) I decided not to redo that post because I have so much new material that it seemed silly to revamp that post.

There is also an excellent post about a woman who prefers dark, masculine decor, and it’s her husband who wants things light and bright. You’ll also find some other relevant links in that post.

However, this home sounds like a lake home. It could be in the mountains or hills. Therefore, it would be inherently more casual and rustic.


However, rustic does not have to be dark. You could have a rustic home that’s all white.


Jeanne, I’m sure, would love that. Me too!


via @tristanjayne on instagram Cabin retreat

One of my favorite all-white and elegantly rustic homes is that of the darling interior designer and blogger, Lynn Knowlton.  Yes, I believe you can rent out that treehouse. Whoa! The photo was taken by Lynn’s daughter Tristan on Instagram.   Both of them have gorgeous accounts!

By the way, they’re up in Canada, so plennnnnty of snow!


However, Mr. Jeanne, at this point, wants dark, masculine, chest-pumping, rustic decor.


Can you have both light and bright, with dark and rustic?


Yes, I think those rooms are far more interesting.


Still, Laurel, sorry, but I don’t think you can do Chinoiserie porcelains in a log cabin with a stone fireplace. Can you? Isn’t that the wrong style?


Well, we’ll have to see. ;]


And, won’t blue, as a color, be too cool in a mountain home?


Of course, you can do blue. However, the blue might be a more gray-blue or muted teal-blue. After all, the sky is blue.


Let’s put this all together, beginning with a fantastic showhouse that the immensely talented James T Farmer did not too long ago.


James Farmer vignette log cabin showhouse - rustic decor

And, here it is. Rustic decor meets Chinoiserie with a little pale celadon! Love James’ work. (You can see here, just how much I love it!)


James T Farmer, Rustic decor - dining area - with Chinoiserie


James T Farmer, Rustic decor - with Chinoiserie - stone fireplace

Antlers and porcelain. Love it!


James T Farmer, Rustic decor - with Chinoiserie - sofa vignetteFor more of this fabulous space, click here.


James Farmer is superb at getting the mix of rustic decor balanced perfectly between masculine and feminine. For this reason, I believe that his rooms appeal to both men and women.


Seriously, what’s not to like? I mean, what is Jeanne’s hub going to say?


Sorry, My Dear. These rooms make me uncomfortable. They’re waaaay too beautiful, too interesting and vibrant. I thought we had settled all of this. I’d far prefer something, dark and lifeless. I want some hunky leather furniture where I can spend the rest of my life – sleeping on when I’m not downing a six-pack of beer. That’s my dream house, babe.”

Jeanne’s response:

“Sure, Darling. I’m gonna go hang out at Lynn Knowlton’s treehouse. Of course, you are more than welcome to come and visit me, if you get tired of sleeping and drinking.”


James T Farmer white kitchen - rustic decor

I adore this white kitchen James designed with a blue-green island. The rattan stools are just the right touch. But, let’s look beyond, to the next room.


Heart Pine Shiplap James Carter rustic living room

See? A dark rustic room does not have to be dull and depressing.

And, the blues and greens are gorgeous with the warm, heart pine walls.


James T Farmer, colorful refined Rustic decorFor more spaces in this home, please go here.


James T Farmer - rustic decor - colorful living room

Another colorful room with rustic decor by James T Farmer.


James T farmer - rustic decor - white bathroomA beautiful bathroom by James Farmer. I believe that a home can have a mix of stained brown wood and white areas, like the kitchen and bathrooms. Of course, this might be too formal a room for Jeanne’s new home. And, yes, the bathrooms and kitchen do not have to be white.


However, in a home with a lot of brown wood, I think it would be refreshing.


And, see how James added brown in the mirror and art frames. That’s how it subtly gets tied in.


James T Farmer, Rustic decor -BedroomI’m finishing out James’ beautiful and always elegant rustic decor with this handsome bedroom. Please note the blue and white Chinoiserie porcelain ginger jars on the mantel.

They look a lot like my ginger jars, which are very happy sitting atop my two bookcases in my bedroom.

Please don’t forget to follow James T Farmer on Instagram.


And, oh, what’s wrong with me! James has a new book coming out. And, you can pre-order it here.


Let’s move on to some other designers featuring rustic decor.


forestbound on instagram - log cabin - rustic decor

forestbound on Instagram – a log cabin – rustic decor

Of course, you certainly can do stained wood and have it not look heavy. The skylights bring in plenty of light to this contemporary log cabin.





architecture James F Carter - interior design Tammy Connor

Another fabulous architect is James F Carter who collaborated with interior designer Tammy Connor

on this incredible home featuring elegant rustic decor.


Via Veranda - architecture - James F Carter - interior design Tammy Connor - photo - Erica George Dines - Rustic home kitchen

Via Veranda – architecture – James F Carter – interior design Tammy Connor

photo – Erica George Dines

If you didn’t see it before, please check out the earlier post that features this team’s gorgeous work.


Rustic decor doesn’t have to mean dark brown.


Country Living - modern-cabin-living-room-photo - Audrey Hall

Country Living – modern-cabin-living-room-photo – Audrey Hall


Karin Lidbeck-Brent - rustic-living-room-natural-materials-country living

Karin Lidbeck-Brent

Ohhhh! Another beautiful Instagram account and lots of elegant and rustic decorating!


Mallory Mathison - rustic kitchen - white cabinetry

Mallory Mathison

Terrific rustic kitchen with white cabinetry. It’s interesting because this is quite a departure from Mallory’s very colorful new-trad interiors.


And I’m going to finish off with a designer who has not been on my radar, until TODAY.


But, I have no idea how that’s remotely possible. Her name is Jean Stoffer. (note, I had her name wrong, originally) And, I think her work is incredible! Of course, she’s probably a household name, and I’ve just been living underneath a rock and buried inside my laptop like a little blogging nerd. Oh, well.


jenna borst photography-rustic decor - log cabin living room - Jenna Stoffer Design

This is an incredibly elegant, contemporary, and rustic decor. And, it is carried out with exquisite restraint. That is not easy to do even though she makes it look easy. I think this beautiful pale gray-blue looks ahhhmazing with the wood tones. Plus, I think this look would be lovely in a Maine home on a pond.


Jean Stoffer Design | Torch Lake Cabin

Jean Stoffer Design | Torch Lake Cabin

Here’s a little peek into the fabulous kitchen.



I love this charming bathroom. It reminds me of Lotte Meister’s bathroom.

For more of this elegant modern, log cabin, please go here.

Please also check out Jean Stoffer on Instagram.


You might also enjoy this post about loving a home except for the stained wood trim.


Okay! I hope that y’all enjoyed these beautiful rustic interiors. In addition to mountain and lake homes, rusticity is definitely on-trend, these days. But rusticity is about blending the old with the new. And, that’s always a classic look.




Very important. This Sunday is Mother’s Day. I don’t know if you have time to shop for a gift from a store or not. But, you should have time to order flowers.


Mother's Day Flowers
Please go here to see all of the beautiful gift ideas and flowers for Mom!

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Welcome To Laurel Home!


Hi, I’m Laurel, and Laurel Home is the website and blog for Laurel Bern Interiors.
I’ve been creating new-traditional interiors since 1988. The blog is where I share all.

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