Modern Farmhouse: The Style That’s Not Real, But Really Popular

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The Modern Farmhouse uses traditional elements in a fresh, light-filled way.


The house style trend that’s been dominating the past few years is called “Modern Farmhouse.”

In truth, farmhouses have never been known for their modernity. Farmhouses are loved for their association with simplicity, function, nostalgia and an abundance of sunlight and fresh air. A farmhouse is actually a budget-friendly home, embracing salvage and hand-me-downs. Yet we see Modern Farmhouses that could only have been created by interior designers for wealthy clients.

It’s a relatively new trend: The New York Times first used the phrase “modern farmhouse” in an October 2016 article describing the work of the Jersey Ice Cream Co., an interior-design firm that gained attention in the early 2010s for home makeovers that layer in reclaimed wood, antique finds and farmhouse sinks. Farmhouse design started becoming a huge decorating trend around 2015, thanks in large part to Joanna Gaines and HGTV’s Fixer Upper.

Today’s Modern Farmhouse tends to include elements of industrial and primitive style; loosely defined as rustic, yet chic, contemporary, yet country, modern farmhouse style marries what we hope is the best of old and new. And, if you’re wondering if it is, finally, out of style, the answer is no. Just because it’s everywhere doesn’t mean that it’s dated. This style is showing no signs of going away just yet.

The original “farmhouse style” has evolved into a modern style, which is why it remains popular and will continue to be a homeowner favorite. What makes this style so popular is the very thing that sustains its longevity: it feels like home.

So, what are the hallmarks of the Modern Farmhouse?

Common architectural features of modern farmhouse style homes include A-shaped or gable roofs, lots of windows, a large covered porch, carriage style garage doors, and vaulted ceilings in key areas that bring a sense of drama or grandeur to the interior. Interior designs tend to include materials that acquire patina, like cedar shingles, copper for gutters or the range hood, unlacquered brass, painted wood, stone.

An abundance of wood. This includes wood-clad walls, from Colonial wainscot to beadboard, Southern shiplap and mid-century vertical planks.

Vintage furniture. Also, collectibles, art, dishes, textiles and other practical objects meant to be used.

Porches. These should be outfitted for specific uses: sitting, dining, doing chores or chatting with the neighbors.

Slipcovers. These should actually be changed out seasonally.

Kitchens should look unfitted and unmatched, with mixed countertop materials, white tile and flooring of wood, brick or linoleum.

Practical living as expressed through open shelves, a draining dish rack or firewood storage.

Classics like Windsor chairs in the kitchen, a wing chair by the fire, fourposter or brass beds, quilts, flatwoven rugs, screen doors, window shutters, wicker and a porch swing.

Enduring wallpaper designs including vines, flowers and leaf botanicals, stripes and diamond patterns.

Handcrafted objects from wooden spoons to weather vanes.

Simply put, a room in the Modern Farmhouse style should look as though it evolved over time. A stainless-steel refrigerator can stand against shiplap or beadboard walls, furniture is a mix of older and newer and many elements are unfitted or unmatched.

Basic materials are historical and preferably found in nature, such as wood, slate, soapstone, marble, brick, cast iron, aged brass and tin.

Most important: comfort and function are the goals, not aesthetics, trends or a sense of design.

You can be sure that, if every hallmark of the Modern Farmhouse is present, the room was never in an actual farmhouse. Real farmhouses are organic, functional spaces, they are never “designed.”

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