Modern Wanderer vs Modern Rustic: What’s the Difference?

Modern rustic + wanderer beds

Interior design trends keep evolving & changing and it’s easy to get them all mixed up sometimes, especially when they seem a little similar. At least, when they seem similar at first. The modern wanderer and modern rustic trends have shared roots and influences but when you get into them, it’s not so hard to tell them apart.

Header image features the Aspen Quilt Cover Set (left) and the Deluxe Waffle Quilt Cover Set, Soft Blue (right).

Defining the Styles

Before getting too far down the rabbit hole of style attributes, it’s important to know from where each style comes.

Modern Wanderer

It’s all in the name. Modern wanderer is inspired by global trends, taking the best bits of world-wide interior fashion and combining it in an organised eclectic manner. Nothing quite matches but it all works together. You can make an exception for items that come as a set, of course, such as dining chairs, tableware, and sheet sets or you could go hell for leather and fully embrace the not-quite-but-it-works style. There’s a lot of room to experiment in this style, finding your ideal look

These plates, bowls, and mugs come from different sets, yet they come together perfectly on these gorgeous placemats.

These plates, bowls, and mugs come from different sets, yet they come together perfectly on these gorgeous placemats.

Modern Rustic

Modern rustic combines all the nature-based elements of modern wanderer, and both feature a slight unfinished nature in their finishes, but there are still some elements that set the rustic apart from the wanderer. Where the wanderer might come across as rugged in an almost accidental manner, the rustic is always deliberate. Image a cabin in the woods that’s been taken over by a pack of interior stylists. That’s the modern rustic trend.

modern rustic styling

Combining rustic elements doesn’t mean wood-look walls. Sometimes it just means keeping the spirit of that wood cabin present in your home, perhaps with an artwork or two — this Celestial Melody Framed Print is available at Zanui.


Modern Wanderer Colouring

One of the fastest ways to tell these styles apart is with colour. Modern wanderer features a lot of white-toned colours and accent, creating a light, contemporary finish. Of course, black accents exist in this style as well, but they are only that: accents. Base colours of a modern wanderer home should be airy neutrals. Darker tones can make a house feel warm and homey of course, but it can also make it feel very grounded. This isn’t always a bad thing, but when your décor is supposedly inspired by world-wide trends, being grounded can be counter-productive. Try to stick to those lighter, natural shades that are found in every style all over the world.

Modern Rustic Colouring

As you might expect, rustic tones trend towards the darker hues. Where the wanderer might favour oak, the rustic loves walnut. These darker woods, combined with organic materials, create an aesthetic that looks like it has lasted the tests of time and is still going strong. Pair your dark woods with deep colours—pops of sapphire, emerald, ruby, topaz, and other jewel-based colours can add a sense of luxury when used well—as well as soft neutrals for that worn-in, ready-to-snuggle-up-by-the-fire vibe.


Modern Rustic Accents

For the most part, based on what we’ve already covered, this should be pretty intuitive. Modern rustic accents = time to get cosy! Throws and cushions are always welcome; the more the merrier. This is a great time to explore a love of winter-inspired styling with warm (faux or real) furs in your home styling. Don’t worry too much about styling all your cushions and throws in a modern rustic interior; an eclectic arrangement feels natural and organic — perfect in this space.

Image features the Dark Sable Faux Fur Throw, Icelandic Sheepskin Rug, Copper with Caramel Tips Vaughn Cushion

Left image features the Dark Sable Faux Fur Throw. Centre image features the Vaughn Cushion in black and natural colouring and the Oni Throw in black and grey colouring. Right image features the  Icelandic Sheepskin Rug, Copper with Caramel Tips.

Modern rustic interiors aren’t exclusive to the colder months so don’t fret too much if you love this style but live in a warm area. You can find rugged throws made of lighter materials like linen and cotton that won’t ruin an aesthetic. Or you can use these animalistic elements in your floor décor — as rugs, of course — and even as wall accents to ensure you don’t lose that cosy aspect of the modern rustic style.

Modern Wanderer Accents

If you find yourself thinking that the modern rustic interior just feels over-cluttered, the modern wanderer is perfect for you. It plays with accents, for sure, but it’s a much more minimalist style than its rustic companion. Again, the most important thing to remember when modelling your home after this style is that it’s all about that world-wide charm. Whether that means drawing elements from the style of specific locales, or a general wanderlusting look.

So when we take apart all the elements of these two styles, they don’t seem too similar after all. Perhaps in the future we’ll combine the two into something cosy and global-inspired. A modern rustic wanderer style. Who knows?


Paige Riddiford is a writer and editor from NSW with a degree in Creative Writing from the University of Wollongong. When not writing, Paige is often found reading, baking cakes, playing video games, or binging whatever's new on Netflix.