We just love a beautiful old-fashioned farmhouse. In fact, “farmhouse style” is so well loved that a number of different takes have evolved over the years. If you’re worried that the farmhouse look will eventually go out of style, relax. It has endured, and in our opinion, will continue to do so.. While some of the variations of farmhouse style may be trendy, the classic American farmhouse is here to stay. American farmhouse is more than just a decorating style; it is actually an architectural style born of necessity.
What Defines Farmhouse Style*?
- Worn wood surfaces
- Wood tones
- Lots of white
- Nothing really “matches”
- Readily available materials, especially wood
- Mix of old and new
- Accent colors can be subtle or bold
- Apron front sinks
- Porches/porch swing
- Patterned, soft-wash fabrics
- Wood floors
- Clawfoot tub
*not an exhaustive list
Types of Farmhouse Styles and Hallmarks
- Classic American Farmhouse: lots of white or cream walls, shiplap, and beadboard, wood surfaces, and comfortable worn fabrics; pops of color
- Modern Farmhouse: white walls with black hardware and window exteriors; more streamlined, neutral color palette
- Swedish/Scandinavian Farmhouse: airy and bright; lots of whites, soft grays and pastels, light wood floors
- Industrial Farmhouse: straight lines, industrial fixtures, lots of black and white, metal and wood surfaces
- French Country Farmhouse: soft color palette, scrolled iron work, distressed floors, lots of cream and white, soft ruffled fabrics, floral patterns
- Coastal Farmhouse: blues and whites, gingham prints, nautical motif here and there, pops of red or orange or soft blues and neutrals
- Colonial Farmhouse: period pieces, medium to darker-toned woods, formal, jewel-toned prints
- Rustic Farmhouse: lots of natural and stained wood surfaces, buffalo check, dark greens, metal accents, warm whites and creams
- Cottage Farmhouse: collected-over-time appeal, soft comfortable sofas and chairs, white slipcovers, washed linens, mixed fabrics (florals, stripes, checks), bright or light colors, colored walls, lots of white, mix of old and new
Like most other structures, farmhouse exteriors have evolved over time. The Spruce has a short interesting article on the history of the farmhouse and its evolution. Take a look for yourself. The article explains that the early American farmhouse began as a sparse dwelling that was strictly utilitarian, but evolved into today’s version thanks in large part to the Sears Roebuck catalog! Today’s classic farmhouse with which we are most familiar includes large porches, typically white exteriors, fireplaces and chimneys, and a rural setting.
Are Farmhouses Going Out of Style?
The short answer is no.
If you choose to buy or build a farmhouse, feel free to mix styles and create a home that feels comfortable and is to your liking. Be careful, however, not to overdo a particular style with too many themes or kitschy nicknacks. By kitschy nicknacks I am referring to a kitchen, for instance, with an assortment of chicken decor, along with pigs and cows and a horse or two. You end up with a barnyard rather than a refined space. I have a cute white chicken paper towel holder in my kitchen, but it is the only chicken in the house (outdoor chickens coming soon). Go overboard with industrial items and you’ll feel like you’re living in a warehouse. The point here is, do what you love, but do it in moderation and keep it in check. If you’re not sure whether you’re hitting the right notes, ask someone who will give you an honest opinion.
Lastly, avoid the trends, at least of the permanent variety. If you absolutely love something that happens to be trending at the moment, that doesn’t make it awful, or mean that it will necessarily go out of style, but just be judicious and exercise a little restraint. Love a trendy backsplash tile? Say no and choose a trendy wallpaper instead. You can always take it down and paint. If wallpaper is too much of a commitment, choose a piece of furniture with a similar fabric. You can throw a slipcover over it if you get tired of it. Be careful too, about where you build your farmhouse. A farmhouse built in an urban setting may look pretty cool today, but not so much in five, ten, or twenty years.
The Big Two: Classic vs. Modern Farmhouse
The big “trend” of the moment is the modern farmhouse. If you love it and will love it forever, go for it. I’m not going to try to talk you out of it. It just isn’t for me. I can certainly appreciate the style and I have loved many of the modern farmhouses designed by Joanna Gaines, so I can see the appeal. Let’s do a quick side-by-side comparison. Again, this comparison is by no means a complete list, but rather a generalized overview.
|Classic Farmhouse||Modern Farmhouse|
Red brick exterior
White, soft white or cream interior
|Bright white exterior and white interiors, black hardware and accents|
Wood posts and exterior accents
|Worn wood furniture and surfaces; painted or natural wood or a combination of the two||Light wood, natural wood|
|marble countertops (or now quartz)||Quartz or butcher block countertops|
|Open shelving||Natural wood open shelving, floating or on brackets|
|White windows||Black windows|
|Wood front door (natural or painted)||Natural wood front door|
|Soft overstuffed furniture||Statement pieces; larger sofas; cognac leather|
|Florals, checks, linen, striped fabrics; either bright or faded||Neutral textures, typically darker accent colors|
|Clean lines, softened||Straight lines, sparser interiors|
|White porcelain apron sink||Stainless or dark sink|
How to Choose Classic Farmhouse Finishes
If you are interested in choosing classic farmhouse materials, do your research. Pinterest and Instagram are excellent sources of inspiration, as you well know. Research older homes and see how they were built, what materials and colors were used, and how they were decorated. If you have read previous blog posts or followed us on Instagram, you know Monica’s farmhouse is a mix of American cottage farmhouse and Swedish farmhouse. Our interiors are light and airy with light wood flooring, lots of cool blues and pink and lavender accents. We have a mix of fabrics and patterns with lots of white, and we couldn’t be happier.
Creating Your Farmhouse
If you’re interested in creating a happy farmhouse, keep the bones and hard surfaces simple and classic, and have fun with paint, fabric, and accessories, and remember to use lots of white.
Until next time…