Like many other design styles, nobody ever sat down to create the new farmhouse designstyle. It was born out of sheer practicality. Between the 16th and 17th centuries, the farmhouse was often a refuge or rather a home that was close to the fields. Farmers took the materials they could easily get in their area and built a house there. They were built mainly as a place to rest and eat, so the entire house was usually built around the kitchen. The floor plan was kept fairly simple, with one or two bedrooms and maybe a bathroom. As the farm family began to grow, the house expanded with them. This often resulted in some very odd looking houses.
The original farmhouse style began in European country homes, which is why it has many French and English elements. After the style attracted a lot of attention, it quickly spread to the United States, where they were naturalized very quickly. Indeed, this style is mainly rustic and very comfortable – oh so American.
In the last 10 years, the farmhouse gained a lot of attention again thanks to Joanna Gaines, who transforms old houses into beautiful and modern farmhouses in her show Fixer Upper. She took the design style and paired it with a touch of industrial design to make it suitable for country homes, but also for townhouses. It is elegant and chic, and at the same time so cozy that you immediately feel at home.
Farmhouse design is very practical, but also chic. It mixes beautiful antiques and vintage pieces with simple furniture. Most of the elements are made of wood, as this was the cheapest and most common resource from which farmers could build their houses. The whole house is built around the kitchen. So this room is usually the main focal point. The wrap-around porch was created as a transitional space between the house and the outside, since the farmers went in and out several times a day.
The kitchen is the center of any farmhouse. In this kitchen, an oversized ceramic farmhouse sink is the absolute must-have and key element. This sink is basically where life happens. From washing the vegetables to bathing the kids to gutting the fish, everything was done here. To this day, this sink is an absolute classic. Besides the sink, a farmhouse kitchen usually consists of white or brown wooden cabinets with bronze hardware and some glass windows in the cabinet doors. Open shelves are convenient for the, most commonly used items, in the kitchen. Nowadays these shelves are often used for pretty decorations, but they were originally developed for practical reasons. That’s why every farmhouse kitchen has a pot rack and a plate rack for displaying ceramic dishes.
For perfect lighting in the kitchen, farmhouses usually have some hanging lamps or just large candlesticks. The table or island are decorated with pretty wildflowers or roses. Add to that a large chalkboard and the farmhouse kitchen is perfect. This can be used for all sorts of recipes, the family calendar or some nice notes.
Bedroom in the farmhouse is the second most important room in the house. This room usually has a wooden floor and walls in white or floral wallpaper. In the center of the master bedroom is a very classic four-poster bed made of iron or wood. A simple woven wool or rag rug, a wooden bench at the foot of the bed and a large wooden wardrobe for storage and clothes complete the picture. Simple but chic.
Just like the sink in the kitchen and the four-poster bed in the bedroom, the bathroom features an absolute classic. The clawfoot bathtub. Next to the tub, which is actually very Victorian, a wooden cabinet provides storage for linens and toiletries. If your bathroom doesn’t have enough space for a large cabinet, open shelves with beautiful wicker or wire baskets also fit beautifully in the farmhouse bathroom.
In the past, the main focus of the house was in the kitchen, and not so much in the living room. The kitchen usually had a dining area, and depending on how big the house was, there was probably even room for a small living area. These days, it’s a little different. Most homes focus on a cozy living room where you can relax after a long day. The focus in the living area is on a large brick fireplace, which can also be covered with wood. The windows typically have some wooden shutters and are framed with cotton curtains or Roman blinds. The sofas are simply edged with a cotton fabric and an old chest replaces the coffee table.
The dining room focuses on a large wooden table with a wooden bench or a few chairs with tapered legs. These chairs were extra lightly constructed back then so they could be easily moved out of the way when extra space was needed. It’s absolutely fine to mix and match different chairs as it adds charm to the room. A novelty is metal chairs that give an industrial touch to the farmhouse. Last but not least, a vintage buffet perfectly completes the dining room.
As I mentioned earlier, the materials that the farmers used to build their houses were usually materials that were easy and cheap to find. So depending on the area you are in, this can vary a bit, but one thing they all have in common is that the materials were usually very simple.
The main material in a typical farmhouse is wood – in any type, shape or form. Shiplap on the walls, wide planked wooden boards on the floor, a sliding wooden gate and wooden beams on the ceiling. If you’re decorating your home in the typical farmhouse style of today, you might want to use used wood, for that authentic look.
For the floor in the kitchen and entryway, an authentic farmhouse can also have a floor made of stone, terracotta tiles or bricks.
While everything in the farmhouse is kept simple and practical, bronze hardware and galvanized metal elements give it a chic and unique look.
Cotton and burlap keep the farmhouse nice and cozy, even on colder days. They may have been a bit scratchy in the past, but today these textiles are so carefully and beautifully crafted that they really make your home cozy. All of these materials create some nice simple lines and simple details.
In a farmhouse, the colors are usually kept pretty simple. White, white, more white and a bit of cream or beige. Neutral tones are the way to go, BUT a beautiful floral wallpaper is much appreciated in a bedroom or guest bathroom. The typical accent colors are straight from nature: pink, blue and yellow and a darker green followed by a deep red. Sounds like a pretty field of flowers. Doesn’t it?
Before there was electricity, farmers usually just had candles everywhere, standing in rather clunky candlesticks so they wouldn’t fall over. With electricity, beautiful lamps moved into the farmhouse. Classic lamps for a farmhouse are: Lanterns, hard wired chandeliers, lights made from mason jars, wrought iron chandeliers or even a beautiful French chandelier.
Common patterns used were stripes, checks and florals. If you think this might look pretty dated, look again very carefully. There are actually some very beautifully designed modern options that instantly update the room without losing the style.
To dress up the often white walls, artwork is typically very farmhouse. An acrylic painting of the house or a beautiful field of flowers. Something that shows the landscape is always the way to go. But instead of living with a piece of art that is old and dusty, you can hang up some beautiful flower photographs. Line drawings or motivational quotes. Always remember that it’s great to follow a style you love, but it also needs to fit your personality, and artwork can be really personal.
Always remember to keep it simple, functional and chic and you can’t go wrong. Also, don’t forget that this is your home and you need to do what you feel comfortable with. It’s actually pretty common to mix and match it with different styles like boho or skandi. Just like industrial design already has a significant part in the modern farmhouse. So have fun and make this style your very own!