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What is Modern Farmhouse Design?

The “farmhouse style” has been around as long as farms have. Originally, homes described as farmhouses were simply houses built on farms.

Over time, the farmhouse design has become emblematic of relaxed, simple design, with an emphasis on function and family.

modern farmhouse design

The popularity of trendsetters like Chip and Joanna Gaines have popularized this classic style by focusing on the timeless elements that make the farmhouse style so appealing.

Why are farmhouses always white?

The traditional farmhouse style is commonly marked by a clean, fresh white painted exterior. More than just for aesthetic reasons, farmhouses were originally painted white because of the material used… whitewash.

modern farmhouse design
Credit: Randy Yeats Photography

Whitewashing was a technique commonly used for painting or refinishing farmhouses to give them a fresh look. It was inexpensive, easy to apply and helped to deter insects, mold, odors, and was also a disinfectant.  

Popular and essential elements of the farmhouse aesthetic include:

  • Neutral colors
  • Lots of natural light
  • House plants to bring in a pop of green
  • Open and large porches
  • Floor plans with open spaces
  • Natural textures and materials

1. Open Concept Floor Plans

The floor plans of the farmhouse style are mostly open concept, with the exception of a formal dining area. Modern renditions of classic farmhouses may omit the formal dining in lieu of a breakfast nook or simple bar seating.

modern farmhouse design

But traditional farmhouses would commonly retain a formal dining area as a symbol or the importance of family and gathering around a table for meals.  

2. Wide Porches

“Front porch sittin'” is one element that many people look for when capturing that true iconic farmhouse style. These porches can be screened in or left un-screened, but with a covered overhang.

Add some ceiling fans, rocking chairs, and hanging ferns and you can quickly recreate a classic farmhouse front porch. 

3. Neutral or Muted Color Palette

The color palette of the farmhouse style includes a lot of gray or “greige” tones, whites and blacks.

These neutrals could be wall colors, millwork, or accents. If you’re looking for a color palette outside of neutrals, there are a few other colors in the farmhouse palette, but none are bright or highly saturated.

modern farmhouse design

Other popular farmhouse colors include dusty blue or a soft, minty sea green. Neutral colors like these tend to look different depending on the natural light in a space so they are really easy to work with generally worked well in a variety of spaces. 

4. Natural Textures

Common textures in the farmhouse style include:

  • Rustic wood accents
  • Hardwood floors
  • Shiplap accent walls
  • Woven textiles
  • Galvanized metals
  • Painted brick
  • Leather accents

This palette of textures creates a lot of a variety, but brings that variety through touch and feel and doesn’t need a lot of bright colors. 

modern farmhouse design
Painted accent brick wall and patterned tile floor provide variety and interest to the space

Another way you can add visual depth and variety to your farmhouse is with the use of pattern play. Take, for instance, the buffalo check pattern in this laundry room. Pairing simple black, white, and gray tiles, results in a fun checkered floor.

5. Natural Light

Natural light is another huge part of the classic farmhouse look. This is one element that commonly may overlap into other styles as well, but there are some techniques you can try to keep the farmhouse vibes.

To maximize natural light in your farmhouse you can:

  • Paint the walls a light color
  • Use white blinds or light roller shades
  • Hang drapes high and wide
  • Hang mirrors where needed
modern farmhouse design

Hanging the drapes higher and wider than your actual window is a trick that designers use to make a window feel grander than it may be. Mirrors are another way to trick the eye into thinking there is more natural light.

If you’re tight on windows, hanging a mirror across from the location of an existing window will reflect the natural light from the window into the mirror and allow it to bounce around more throughout the space. 

6. Greenery

Incorporating greenery into the farmhouse style can be as simple as adding faux ferns, dried or faux eucalyptus, and preserved boxwoods around the house, or you can stick with natural indoor plants.

modern farmhouse design

If you have a green thumb, snake plants and fiddle leaf figs are excellent options for real plants you can add indoors for a splash of natural greenery. 

modern farmhouse design

The pictures featured are from the personal home of Modern Castle Creative Director, Kayla Hein. Kayla and her husband built their own farm house in 2018 that Kayla designed herself.

If you’d like to feature any quotes or information, please reach out!

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