How to Decorate With a Modern Farmhouse Style

In case you haven’t noticed, farmhouse style decorating has become super popular.  It’s been trending for years, and now everywhere you look on Pinterest and Instagram, you’ll see farmhouse style decor.  Thanks to Joanna Gaines and her show, Fixer Upper, it’s skyrocketed to national recognition.

The style used to called shabby chic, but it’s taken on a new life as it’s now called farmhouse decor…or sometimes modern farmhouse style.  It’s a return to comfort and simplicity.

Why is farmhouse style decor so popular?

“Well first, you need to understand that farmhouse style is more than just a style of decor.  It’s a lifestyle.  It’s a return to a time when things were simpler and more authentic” says Joy Bender, a luxury real estate agent in San Diego.  Farmhouse style lovers adore nature and celebrate the beauty of imperfection – the way nature intended things to be.

They love natural and organic foods; they celebrate older homes and decor that have flaws and imperfections; they gravitate towards lighter and toned down colors especially for flooring and walls.  They love more casual, conversational and open environments (and open floors plans).  Their home is a gathering place for friends, family and conversation.  And, everything around them shows this philosophy from the decor to the glasses they serve lemonade from.

According to Debbie Gartner aka The Flooring Girl, “Farmhouse style is a way to escape the current troubles of the world and to create a peaceful retreat and open atmosphere.  It’s a way to just be yourself.”

7 Ways to add Farmhouse decor to your home

1.  Shiplap

 Farmhouse Style

Nothing shouts farmhouse style more than shiplap.  A few years ago, virtually no one knew what shiplap was, but now thanks to “Fixer Upper,” we are seeing shiplap everywhere.  Shiplap is basically horizontal wall paneling and the pieces slide into place.

Unlike the honey oak or pine paneling of 60’s or 70’s, shiplap is most often painted white so it really brightens up the area.  Some people choose to do shiplap on all walls, but more often you will just see it in part of the area – e.g. one wall, or half way up the wall or section around the fireplace or in a powder room.

Not only does shiplap brighten up the area and add a modern farmhouse style, but when it’s done in select areas, it allows you to use it as an accent piece.  And then do a different paint color on the walls.  When it’s done right, it’s very chic.

2. Farmhouse style flooring

For the main areas of the home, most prefer to go with wide plank hardwood floors. They may be whitewashed, gray, or a light natural with no stain and instead a clear finish so that they look light and natural.  Water-based polyurethanes (e.g. Bona Traffic) look best for this style as they are the clearest and most natural looking.

Bona Traffic provides a natural, subtle and matte finish, rather than the oil-based polyurethanes which can create yellow and amber tones (which are dated).  Planks should be 5 inches or wider, and many prefer woods with more character for a more authentic and old world look.

For bathrooms, consider the black and white patterned vintage tiles on the floor (coupled with white tile and/or white shiplap on the walls).   Black and white mosaic tiles are also super popular.  Or, you could go for a wood plank tile instead.

As an added pièce de résistance, consider buying a white clawfoot bathtub.

3. Paint with farmhouse style shades

Painting is one of the easiest ways to give your home a makeover.  And, if you’re on a budget, you can even do it yourself.

 Farmhouse Style

Farmhouse style paint colors generally coincide with the most popular shades of paint that you see in most homes.  They tend to be light and neutral.  Grays, whites, greiges (combo of gray and beige) work as well as very light blues.  Occasionally, you will see some very pale greens.

My favorite farmhouse paint shades include

4. Add a farmhouse sink

If you’re remodeling your kitchen, an easy way to add some cottage decor is to add a farmhouse sink.  Not only do they look great, but there are many ergonomic benefits as they make it easier to clean dishes and pots, especially if you are height challenged.  They are also larger and deeper, so it’s much easier to soak and clean pots and pans.

5. Farmhouse signs and accessories

No farmhouse-style room would be complete without a farmhouse style sign (or a few).  Some of them literally say “farmhouse,” but there are many variations on theme and the most popular ones incorporate the stylized farmhouse style script.  There are all sorts of signs and plaques.  They may say “gather” or “home is where the heart is” or “laundry” or you can even customize them.

You may find shiplap clocks, windmills, mason jar decor, galvanized steel rustic pendant lights, farmhouse pillows.  And, of course, the more the merrier when it comes to signs and farmhouse accessories.  In fact, gathering them together creates cozy and friendly vignettes.

6. Sliding barn doors

A really special and intriguing piece to add is a sliding barn door.  They will transform the look of your room and really make it unique.  Single sliding doors work for smaller spaces and double sliding doors work well for larger spaces such as family rooms.  They come in all sorts of colors – white, gray, black, natural wood or stained wood.  You can paint them to whatever color you prefer.

 Farmhouse Style

7. Open shelving

One of the hallmarks for farmhouse decor is open shelving.  You will see this in many kitchens (especially on the upper shelves), and then you can feature your dishes and other items. This gives a more open and airy feeling in the room and makes your room look larger.

You’ll see open shelving bureaus as well as small custom floating shelves that you can install on the wall.  These spaces provide areas to showcase your farmhouse decor accessories.

Give It A Try

Farmhouse style makes your space more inviting.  It’s fun and simple to decorate with farmhouse decor, and it’s easy to do yourself.  It’s a personalized style and it’s easy and affordable to yourself.  What are your favorite ways to add to add farmhouse decor?

Joy BenderAuthor Bio: Joy Bender

Joy is a luxury real estate professional in Southern California. Identified in the elite 2015 list of top real estate professionals compiled by Real Trends, published in the Wall Street Journal, Joy Bender ranked #49 nationwide of 1,100,000 licensed REALTORS® for average sales price.