If you love antique furnishings, rustic-style lighting, and vintage accessories — all mixed with the comforts of contemporary living — then the modern farmhouse style might be for you. The charming architectural style is defined by exposed beams and shiplap, while the decor consists of antiques, natural textures, and neutral colors. From the kitchen to the bedroom, the right decor will bring a touch of country charm to any interior. Whether you’re updating a historic farmhouse or decorating a new-construction home, here is your essential guide to modern farmhouse decor.

Architecture by Huestis Tucker Architects | Photo by Nancy Elizabeth Hill

History of the Farmhouse

Among farmers in Germany and Scandinavia, farmhouse architecture originated in Europe centuries ago. By the 1700s, the concept made its way to the United States. During this time, farmhouse architecture and design wasn’t a design style, but rather these homes were built for practicality and efficiency. Known for their simple decor and use of natural materials, the original farmhouse featured exposed beams, shiplap, and natural stone. Due to the time spent cooking and gathering, a spacious kitchen became the heart of the farmhouse floor plan. Fast forward to 2020, the farmhouse is a popular design style around the world. “The modern farmhouse style is based on using historical or traditional forms but in a more pared down and elemental way,” says Jennifer Huestis of Huestis Tucker Architects. While embracing contemporary design elements, a modern farmhouse interior plays tribute to its roots — often with antiques, industrial lighting fixtures, and a neutral color palette. 

Design by Elizabeth Drake | Photo by Werner Straube

Develop a Color Palette

From paint colors to furniture, a neutral color palette is a staple of farmhouse design. While a gray or white modern farmhouse never disappoints, don’t be afraid to embrace a palette inspired by nature — such as earthy greens, sunny yellows, or the multi-color of flowers. Natural wood tones are also key, whether it’s a reclaimed wood dining table or raw wood coffee table. Bring any space to the next level with plaid, stripe, or floral patterns. When it comes to pattern, interior designer Elizabeth Drake suggests “keeping the patterns, stripes, checks, organic florals and furnishings simple, but not plain.”

Photo by Payton Addison Interior Design Atelier

Furnish Your Space

When it comes time to find the right furnishings, shop furniture made from natural materials and textiles, such as raw woods and natural stones, as well as textures like wool and rattan. In the dining room, use a reclaimed wood dining table or vintage chairs that have been reupholstered. To create a modern farmhouse bedroom, use a neutral headboard paired with distressed nightstands, simple table lamps, and thin curtains that allow natural light to enter the space. When creating a modern farmhouse interior, Drake suggests “keeping a keen eye to veto furnishings that might look too processed or manufactured.”

Photo by Payton Addison Interior Design Atelier

Find the Right Lighting

Let there be light! Whether you’re shopping vintage or contemporary styles, lighting is an essential component in creating the modern farmhouse decor. Pendant lights tend to be made of distressed metals, like bronze or copper, but dark black pendants are also used to complete the decor. From flush mounts and sconces to chandeliers and pendants, caged lighting is a key component of modern farmhouse lighting. Ideal for a dining room or bedroom, a traditional candlestick chandelier is another great option. The modern farmhouse bathroom has become increasingly popular, with a rustic wood bathroom vanity and rustic-style bathroom lighting.

Design by Ashli Mizell |Photo by Jason Varney.

Layer Antiques & Artwork

Books, sculptures, and signs — there are endless ways to incorporate antique accessories into your decor. The farmhouse style is rooted in history, and it’s important to infuse the home with character. To honor the authentic farmhouse, tell a story through vintage and antique pieces — with furnishings like chairs and tables, as well as accents like hardware and wall decor. “Respect the local vernacular; it should feel like it has always been there even if refreshed,” says interior designer Ashli Mizell. “Also, embrace the quirkiness and imperfections of the home.”

Architecture by Patrick Ahearn Architect | Photo by Michael Partenio

Don’t Forget About the Kitchen!

The kitchen is the heart of the home — a popular expression regardless of the design style, but the kitchen is particularly important when it comes to the modern farmhouse. The kitchen presents the perfect opportunity to integrate important farmhouse decor traditions — such as a farmhouse sink, light walls or cabinetry paired with dark wood floors, and large farmhouse tables. The farmhouse sink should serve as the focal point of the kitchen (situate it in front of the largest kitchen window). The sink’s design originates from the historic need to hold large amounts of water; but today, the large basin provides comfortable space to wash bigger pots and pans. To complete the interior design of your modern farmhouse kitchen, include open shelving (use reclaimed wood), metallic accents (specifically copper or bronze), and planters filled with greenery or flowers. Patterned or antique runner rugs are a great finishing touch. 

March 24, 2020

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