Using Metal in a Modern Rustic Home

by | Feb 14, 2023 | Designing

Metal accents are increasingly popular to complement log and timber home designs.

Many of us are attracted to the idea of building a log or timber home because we love the warmth and natural beauty of wood. Whether you are building a cabin in the woods, or a mountaintop rustic contemporary home, logs and timbers are the stars of the show. Yet often the supporting cast is just as important. That’s where complementary materials like metal can really shine.

Metal Finishes

Your home’s design will naturally suggest features that lend themselves to metal accents, and there are different ways to use a variety of metal finishes. Matt Franklin, M.T.N Design Architect: “If you are trying to achieve a rustic feel by incorporating metal with your wood home you may consider a treatment or finish that gives the appearance of rusted or reclaimed metals.” Think of antique finishes that look like they’ve developed a patina over time, hammered metal, or oil-rubbed finishes on brass, bronze, or copper.

“Metal accents can also help a design feel more modern when you choose sleek angles, rounded materials, or lighter finishes.” In a more contemporary home design, you might consider brushed, satin, or polished metal finishes.

Exterior Metal Accents

The first place many of us think to use metal is for the home’s roof. Not only do metal roofs look fantastic, they are low maintenance and last 40-50 years or more. If you’re in an area with extreme weather–snow, ice, wind, heat, even fire–a metal roof might be your best choice.

According to the Metal Roofing Alliance, the overall cost of a metal roof over its lifetime makes it an economical choice and adds value to your home. You can get metal roofs that look like standing-seam panels, or stamped to look like traditional shingles, cedar shake, tile, or slate.

Teton Heritage Construction, Centre Sky Architecture, Carole Sisson Design, Custom Log Homes / Photo by Roger Wade

Most metal roofs are made of aluminum, alloy-coated steel, copper, galvanized steel, or zinc, and new coatings mean the appearance can go from painted standing-seam panels to stone-coated colors and textures to complement any home. If you live in a climate with high temperatures, you can paint your metal roof to help reflect solar energy and keep your home cooler, while a metal roof in a cold climate can help save on heating costs.

Metal is also a gorgeous accent used by many home designers for exterior walls. MossCreek, based in Knoxville, Tennessee, is known for creative use of mixed materials in their stunning rustic and contemporary home designs, and frequently incorporate metal from sleek steel stairs and railings to rustic corrugated steel panels. The mix of materials adds visual interest and can help add identity to the home. For example, MossCreek’s “Millenia” plan features a mix of glass, wood, and corrugated metal to highlight the contemporary design’s straight lines and angles, while their “Summit” plan uses a metal roof to complement the rustic exterior’s shingles, stone, and wood.

Using Metal Indoors

For interior applications of metal, your imagination is the limit. Bare metals that will continue to age naturally are right at home in a traditional rustic log or timber home, but you can also use painted or weathered panels to add color and warmth to a space. Metal can also help break up—and highlight—the abundant wood in a log or timber home, much like stone does.

Consider covering a full accent wall with reclaimed corrugated metal panels in your log or timber home or use flat steel in black or silver in a contemporary design. These are often seen around fireplaces, to wrap chimneys, or around a kitchen island. Another popular application is metal wainscoting, often seen in rustic or cottage designs, which can be bright and galvanized or painted to complement your interior design. Corrugated metal makes a fun kitchen backsplash in any home.

Steel connector plates or other steel joinery give a log or timber frame home an industrial look, sometimes painted black to look like wrought iron and enhance the contrast. You can carry that look throughout the home by using wrought iron railings, banisters, and door and cabinet hardware. These can be scrolled and decorative or simple and contemporary. The same is true for metals like aluminum, stainless steel, or powder coated steel.


One great feature of metal is that it can be recyclable, and you can use reclaimed metal to reduce your carbon footprint. According to the American Iron and Steel Institute, steel is 100 percent recyclable, which means it can be recycled into the same material of the same quality again and again.

Ask your supplier if your steel or other metal meets LEED requirements for the amount of recycled content it contains. All steel milled in North America contains recycled content, from 25 percent to as high as 75 percent of the material. Using recycled steel not only keeps materials out of landfills, but also reduces the emissions caused by milling raw steel.

When you use metal in your home, you’re using a material with a long life, high strength-to-weight ratio, and requiring little (or no) maintenance. Metal is a popular building material not only because it brings texture and visual interest to a space, but also because it looks right at home with natural elements like wood and stone. The trick is to select the right metal, use a complementary finish, and find the right balance with the rest of your home’s design. Consult with your log or timber home designer for help!