A staple of Americana, emblem of the good life, and home of the practical and unpretentious, farmhouse style is a design style that has evolved over centuries. From the original homesteads to modern farmhouse style, a sensibility of warmth practicality, and simplicity has defined farmhouse design and kept interior designers drawing on and adding new decorating ideas to the style every day.
What Is Farmhouse Style?
Elements of farmhouse style include apron sinks made of either porcelain or stainless steel (also known as farmhouse sinks), open shelving, rustic finishes like reclaimed barn wood and whitewashed shiplap, timber framing or exposed beams, neutral color palettes, and natural elements like wide plank wood or flagstone floors, fieldstone or river rock fireplaces.
Farmhouse home decor includes long antique dining tables, butcherblock islands on castors, farm stoves, painted furniture or stained wood furniture, and wrought iron light fixtures.
History of Farmhouse Style
The history of farmhouse style in America begins with the arrival of European colonists.
Germans and Scandinavians brought with them their style of architecture (which originated in their own countries during the 16th and 17th centuries) of large structures with sweeping roofs, often functioning as both residence and barn or connected to an attached barn housing agricultural equipment and livestock.
Farmhouses were made with locally available materials including wood, stone, and, later, brick. They were also usually built by the families that would inhabit them. Like most elements of a homestead, farmhouses were built for practical purposes, placing little value on unnecessary comforts or fashions.
The same goes for farmhouse decor, with filling the living rooms bedroom, and dining rooms filled with locally made wood furniture.
Varieties of Farmhouse Style
For a style that’s been around for centuries, there are understandably a number of variations. Farmhouses have undergone many architectural evolutions--including the style made famous by Grant Wood’s legendary painting American Gothic--creating distinct farmhouse styles.
These include Traditional Farmhouse, Colonial Farmhouse, Scandinavian Farmhouse, Rustic Farmhouse, Coastal Farmhouse, Industrial Farmhouse, and Modern Farmhouse.
Designer Emily Starr Alfano of Boston-based lifestyle studio mStarr Design is a Farmhouse pro and takes this latitude to create her own interpretation of the style.
“Farmhouse style to me is not the more traditionally thought of farmhouse style. It means incorporating elements that resonate with a farmhouse but mixing in other styles too. So maybe it's shiplap but installed vertically vs. horizontally for a more contemporary look.
“Maybe it's reclaimed wood floors but installed in a herringbone pattern. I strive to honor certain aspects of our nearly 200-year-old-home but focus on blending styles...Cottage, Farmhouse, Organic, California Cool.”
11 Tips for Farmhouse Style
1. Farmhouse Made Simple
Are you a minimalist at heart? The best thing about farmhouse style is that it can be as simple as you’d like. Use white or a soft neural subway tile as your defining feature and sprinkle in spare and organic accents. Open shelves keep your walls freed up with simple, functional space for your wares.
2. Make it Yours
Don’t be afraid to have fun with farmhouse style. If you have your heart set on a pattern like Ogee Drop, opt for a fresh white palette and layer it with textiles like plaid or gingham. For a 300-year-old design style, it’s up to every farmhouse style decorator to nudge farmhouse in the direction that works best for them.
3. Count on Classics
There really is nothing like a wall of fresh white subway tile or our Glazed Thin Brick. Top it off with open shelving, Shaker-inspired cabinetry, and the lightest splash of color.
If your home has history, embrace it. Remodel around existing farmhouse features like exposed beams, rustic finishes, wood floors or counters, and vintage decor.
4. At Home With Herringbone
A perfect blend of timeless and on-trend, a Herringbone pattern paired with our Glazed Thin Brick’s rustic texture gives you that cozy, lived-in look you love. Herringbone doesn’t just look great, it’s a perfect match for farmhouse, tracing its own history back to 17th century France.
5. Pick Brick
Let’s be honest, we all swoon over our Glazed Thin Brick. Thanks to its rustic finish and handmade color variation, it really fits the bill for farmhouse style. And with 36 lead-free, hand-applied glazes to choose from, there’s a brick to match any farmhouse look.
6. Add Some Accent
Want some contrast in your farmhouse kitchen? Colorful cabinetry might be the answer.
This cool Maine kitchen's bright blue cabinetry may be the main attraction, but our glazed thin Brick in Olympic makes for a versatile backdrop that's made to last.
7. Put Farmhouse to Work
Farmhouse is a great fit for commercial projects, giving a space a warm and welcoming feeling while offering workspaces a durable finish. This restaurant’s floor-to-ceiling Thin Brick wall is a statement in itself.
8. So Fresh, so Farmhouse
No two white tiles are alike. To take farmhouse style an extra step towards contemporary, consider subway tile in a fresh white glaze with little color variation and pair it with matching grout for a clean, barely-there look.
9. White Picket Tile
White picket fences? How about White Picket Tile. Simple alternatives like replacing classic hexagons with our Picket pattern can take your farmhouse style home from run-of-the-mill to one-of-a-kind.
10. French Farmhouse
Farmhouse style doesn’t have to feel all Americana. Antiqued gray glazes like Foggy Morning can help you achieve an elegant French Farmhouse feel.
11. Let the Basics be Your Guide
When in doubt, stick with the tried and true features of farmhouse. A white or gray tile backsplash offers a fresh canvas for layering on salvaged surfaces that are most typically associated with farmhouse style. To get the look, try incorporating rough-hewn wood, industrial-inspired hardware, and heirloom accents.
Bonus Tip: Hire a Professional Installer
Our handmade tile is the perfect match for Farmhouse’s heirloom style. However, that also means our tile will also have some slight size variation. That’s why we highly recommend hiring a professional to make sure your tile is appropriately spaced out.
Love farmhouse style? Get started with a curated selection of our Farmhouse-Favorite sample colors.
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