Rustic furniture is furniture employing sticks, twigs or logs for a natural look. The term "rustic" is derived from National Park Service rustic style of architecture. Many companies, artists and craftspeople make rustic furniture in a variety of styles and with a variety of historical and contemporary influences.
The rustic furniture movement developed during the mid- to late-1800s. Rustic furniture was originally made from whatever natural materials were in greatest supply, and often by poor people as items of trade for food or cash. The style is associated with the Great Depression and other hard times in America; however, it is also associated with the Great Camps built by wealthy Americans in the Adirondack Mountains of New York, of which the most familiar modern form is the Adirondack chair. Various rustic styles reflect the personality of their maker, with techniques such as chip carving, silver or gold brushwork, milk paint, peeled bark and other decorative enhancements. Many different wood species were used including willow, hickory, mountain laurel, and Alaska cedar. In the American South, palm fronds were occasionally employed. Historical examples of rustic furniture may be found in museums and antique shops, although fine historical pieces are rare outside a museum setting. One showcase for this style of furniture is the Adirondack Museum in Blue Mountain Lake, New York. The New York State Museum is home to: "Rustic Furniture: The Clarence O. Nichols Collection". Typical items of rustic furniture include chairs, love seats, tables, desks, smoking stands (often with a cabin on top), clocks, chest of drawers, rockers, coat racks, mirror frames and lamps.
There are two basic types of rustic-furniture construction: bentwood (sticks are harvested fresh or steamed to make them supple, then bent into a variety of structures and decorative shapes) and twig work (sticks – straight, curved or forked – are assembled into structures and decorative shapes within a structure). Sometimes both types are used in the same piece. Some rustic furniture makers use mortice and tenon construction; others simply nail or screw members together. Dan Mack (Warwick, New York) is a well-known furniture maker who has authored several books on the subject. Ralph Kyloe has written books on rustic furniture and related topics. Present-day manufacturers of rustic furniture may also craft architectural details such as bridges, porches, banisters, stairs, tables, chandeliers and complete works of rustic architecture, like mountain laurel handrail.
- "Rustic Furniture".
- Allaback, Sarah. "Mount Ranier National Park, Rustic Furnishings".
- Davenport, Millie. "Mountain Laurel".
- "Rustic Furniture and Garden Shelter".
- "Rustic Furniture: The Clarence O. Nichols Collection".
- "Liz Hunt Portfolio".
- "Wood Railing".