If you’re into more classic and traditional designs, then rustic kitchen cabinets are probably right up your alley. Designed to look intentionally aged and distressed, rustic cabinets for kitchen spaces continue to be popular in both classic and transitional kitchen design.

Depending on the kitchen, rustic cabinets might come in a pastel color such as pale blue or off-white, though they will usually come in natural wood tones designed to make the room feel warm, homely, and cozy. Here we look at the best wood for rustic kitchen cabinets and tell you how to make them yourself at home!

What Woods Are Rustic Cabinets Made From?

Rustic kitchen cabinets are usually designed to look intentionally aged and distressed, giving them that “vintage” feel. It’s similar to buying a pair of jeans that have holes and rips put in them intentionally – you’re buying into that “distressed” rustic style.

So if you’re going for rustic cabinet doors that have this distressed style, you need to find a style of wood that can make kitchens rustic. This usually means using “softer” woods that are easier to age than their hardwood countertops. Softer woods don’t necessarily last less time than hardwood cabinets – they’re just different in composition.

Here are the most common woods used for the rustic kitchen cabinets style:

Clear Alder

Clear Alder wood is commonly used for rustic kitchen cabinets and old-school farmhouse home styles. This is because it’s a softwood which is easy to distress both artificially and naturally over time. Sanding and finishing are very easy with Clear Alder, so it’s brilliant for that weathered home style if you use the right products.

This soft wood is also relatively cheap and naturally lightens with age (especially when exposed to the sun) so it naturally looks more rustic over time.

Knotty Alder

Very similar to Clear Alder, Knotty Alder is another softwood that’s easy to distress and age both artificially and naturally.

The main difference is that Knotty Alder has more “knots” in it – the circular imperfections often found in wood grains. If you like the knotty wood style, this could be perfect for you.


Though technically classed as a hardwood, cherry is one of the softer hardwoods you’ll find. As such, it’s often used in classic farmhouse kitchen cabinet styles, especially if you’re looking for darker tones.

Just bear in mind that cherry is a little trickier to distress and it’s one of the more expensive woods you can buy for the room due to its tough durability.

Reclaimed Wood

Depending on the type, you might want to consider reclaimed woods for your rustic kitchen design. This has the benefit of being both cheap and environmentally friendly, though you should check with an expert to make sure that the materials are safe to use for kitchen cabinet doors/frames.

You might even want to make various pieces of furniture from reclaimed woods – it’s a great way to make your entire home feel cozy and consistent.

Who doesn’t want their home to feel like a country cottage? Choose the best cabinet wood for painting purpose.

How to Make Kitchen Cabinets Look Rustic

Looking for rustic kitchen cabinets, but don’t want to spend a fortune on new products and furniture? If you’re into design and home DIY, try renovating your existing cabinets with the following method:

  1. First things first, make sure the kitchen cabinets are made from a wood that can be aged safely (ask an expert if you’re unsure)
  2. Remove the cabinet doors from their frames and then remove any handles/fittings from the doors
  3. Clean the cabinet doors thoroughly and prime them
  4. Paint your cabinets the desired color (if applicable) – stick to matte finishes
  5. Tape off and paint the wall frames to match (if you want to)
  6. Apply glaze and clear coat to the doors/frames
  7. Sand down the cabinets using an appropriate sandpaper to remove some of the paint and give them that aged rustic finish!

It won’t work for all cabinets, but hopefully these steps can help you turn your old boring kitchen cabinets into stylish, rustic-feeling ones. Or you can go premium with custom made kitchen cabinets.

Should I Get Rustic Cabinets For My Kitchen?

Like most elements of design, rustic kitchen cabinets must speak to the space at large. If your kitchen has items, furniture, and finishes that evoke that classic country cottage style, then it makes sense to go for rustic cabinets too.

Rustic cabinets give your home character and make it feel cozy, especially if you’ve got the furniture to match. If ever you’re in doubt, consult a professional designer for their opinion. Maybe rustic is not up your alley; perhaps you might find either white kitchen cabinets or modern cabinets more your style.

Good luck!

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