Everything You Need to Know About the Modern Farmhouse Design Style

Marissa Hermanson
Updated May 27, 2022
A spacious yet cozy living room with a fireplace
Photo: LUGOSTOCK / Adobe Stock


  • Farmhouse style draws inspiration from country living.

  • Farmhouse design focuses on simplicity and practicality.

  • Farmhouse interior design originates from U.S. settlers starting rural homesteads.

  • Rustic design elements, natural materials, muted colors, and simple forms characterize the country-inspired style.

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Originating from U.S. settlers starting their rural homesteads, farmhouse design has long been popular. Over the years, the style has been rehashed in a variety of lights, ranging from designer Laura Ashley’s romantic rural motifs to the 21st century Magnolia empire

In recent years, farmhouse design has evolved into a clean, minimalist modern style popularized in mainstream media. Defined by inviting, comfortable, and approachable interiors that eschew froufrou, rustic farmhouse style focus on simplicity and function, and it can be easily incorporated into the home.

What Is Farmhouse Style?

Farmhouse interiors are characterized by a country style with rustic design elements, natural materials, and practical furnishings. In farmhouse interiors, you’ll find furnishings that have clean, simple lines and eschew ornate details, along with subdued and nature-inspired color schemes. Farmhouse design evokes a cozy, down-to-earth feel.

Origin And Influence of Farmhouse Design

Farmhouse design harkens back to the pioneer days, when American settlers moved westward to farm. Settlers built large wooden homes with front porches to gather in after a long day of working the land. Rural dwellers were resourceful, and it shows in their homes as well, as they embraced function over frills with furnishings and decor.

They were the original do-it-yourselfers, creating their own tables and chairs for their homes, as they lived far from the big city. They had to rely on what was in their immediate surroundings, repurposing hand-me-downs and embracing antiques passed down from family members. Living in the country, people made use of the abundance of natural materials like wood to create large farm tables and architectural elements like beams and paneling.

Wood furnishings took on simple, rectilinear forms, as farmers didn’t have the tools to make intricate curvy furnishings. There was an emphasis on craftsmanship with well-made rocking chairs, drawers with dove-tail joints, and sturdy tables that could last the test of time.

Recently popularized with the rise of shows like HGTV’s “Fixer Upper,” farmhouse style has taken on a modern spin, characterized by airy open-concept spaces and materials like painted shiplap walls and matte black metal. With its straight lines and simple forms, farmhouse design can be easily applied to more contemporary homes.

Key Elements of Farmhouse Design

 A beautiful modern farmhouse kitchen
Photo: LUGOSTOCK / Adobe Stock

The warmth and charm of farmhouse interior design is characterized by:

  • Furnishings with simple lines and forms: Rural dwellers didn’t have the tools to create ornate furnishings.

  • Organic materials: Easily accessible materials found nearby in nature were popular, like wood, stone, and metal.

  • Rustic, worn surfaces: Aged materials with character are popular, like metals with a weathered patina and stripped-down wood with scratches.

  • Natural fabrics: Cottons and linens in simple patterns like gingham, floral, or paisley, were popular, along with leathers and suedes made from animal hides.

  • Handmade textiles: With an emphasis on artisanal wares, farmhouse decor incorporates quilts, embroidered linens, lace, and knit blankets.

  • Eclectic style: Living in the country, people slowly added furnishings to their home over time, giving their spaces a collected, personal, and very intentional look.

How to Incorporate Farmhouse Design Into Your Home

You can easily get the look of a farmhouse interior at home.

  • Subdued metals: In lieu of shiny metals, accessorize with aged bronze for a classic farmhouse look and matte black metals for a modern take.

  • Worn-and-torn surfaces: To get a rustic look, embrace furniture and decor with a patina. Texture offsets the simplicity of clean lines and forms ,while adding character.

  • Mix and match: Think contrasting and complementing when pairing pieces. Rather than buying furnishings that match, mix in different styles and periods for a collected look.

  • Antique and vintage: Furnishings that have been passed down from generation to generation tell a story and add instant charm to a space.

  • Subdued shades: Color-rich dyes were hard to come by on the farm, so more organic color schemes were used in homes. Embrace earth tones and warm neutral shades.

  • Rustic architecture: Salvaged elements like wood boards and beams, along with metal hardware can be applied to give interiors a cozy, lived-in look.

  • Intentional details: Don’t get heavy-handed with accessories, but layer in a few rustic decorative pieces like wooden crates and vintage glass bottles filled with dried flowers.

With the guidance of a local interior designer, you can bring your farmhouse vision to life.

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