Ever since Fixer Upper turned “farmhouse design” into the most popular trend of the decade, we see the term everywhere we look, now. And not just on HGTV. Farmhouse style is all the rage on Pinterest and Instagram and Youtube, too. I think one of the reasons it’s so popular is that farmhouse can really take on many different styles.
Lots of times on Fixer Upper you’ll see Joanna Gaines combine two styles. Farmhouse and modern, or farmhouse and Mediterranean. It’s a style that can coexist with other styles when combined intentionally.
But even as a standalone style, a farmhouse design theme has many interpretations. True farms aren’t all the same. Some are near the coast, others are in the midwest. Some are large and grow large numbers crops; others are small and perhaps even in urban or suburban spaces. A cattle ranch is a farm, as is an organic farm or a dairy.
No wonder there are so many farmhouse styles!
I feel like it’s helpful to have a guide that shows different farmhouse styles and combinations. I find that, even with this guide, I still have trouble narrowing it down because I like so many different combinations.
So without further ado… we’ll get started.
I’m starting with Rustic Farmhouse because I think it’s what us HGTV fans have seen the most of. It’s definitely the most common style used on Fixer Upper.
I think of rustic farmhouse as the most traditional style. It’s got the most elements from nature, and the most farm-themed decor accents.
Now, I don’t mean rooster wallpaper borders. Think more along the lines of warm colors, distressed wood, and farm implements like a ladder, rake, or milk can. The trick here is to not be too obvious with the decor. You don’t want your foyer to look like the inside of an actual barn.
The darker, warm woods can also darken a space, so offsetting that with lots of light and bright white or cream colors helps it not feel oppressive.
I live near the beach, so this is a blend that is a favorite around here. Coastal Farmhouse combines elements from farmhouse design with beach-inspired decor and colors.
The wood used is often whitewashed, or has a light grayish tone reminiscent of driftwood. Colors are often light and incorporate paler blues and greens that pull from the colors of the ocean.
Decor may include seashells, baskets, grasses, and seaglass. For textiles, think of a jute rug or linen throw pillows. Furniture is often slipcovered in light-colored fabric that can be easily removed and machine washed.
An alternative is an approach that is more nautical than beachy. Navy blue and white are predominant colors, with medium wood tones that you might find on a yacht. Brass elements, especially cabinet hardware, tie in as well. Themed decor can include lighthouses, nets, and bouys, but again it can be easy to overdo it and make it too theme-y.
I like to think of this style as the “shabby chic” of farmhouse design. The home will feel reminiscent of Provence, maybe, with lots of pale distressed wood. Fresh or dried flowers abound, and there may be elements of wine-growing as well.
Tin containers or distressed white enamel ones add to the charm. And as much as it makes me shudder to say it, this style actual can do well with faux-painted walls that resemble stucco, stone or other natural texture.
The modern farmhouse is usually white, possibly with shiplapped walls, but is combined with darker and possible geometric elements. Think of the right angles common in Frank Lloyd Wright’s architecture, but brought into the farmhouse base in small amounts but with a strong focus. An example would be a large geometric light fixture over the dining room table or kitchen island.
A modern decor also tends to be the opposite of rustic, so you’ll find less distressed wood in a modern farmhouse home. If it’s there at all, it’s in one or two accent pieces and definitely not the kitchen cabinetry!
Cabinets are smooth and clean, and may feature open shelves if those shelves are styled properly. Closed cabinets are more common, and likely have modern hardware or may be the kind of cabinets that don’t have hardware at all, for a cleaner and more minimal appearance.
Finally, I think wood ceiling beams are common throughout farmhouse design, but I don’t think a modern farmhouse would be complete without them!
Industrial farmhouse is actually my favorite style, probably because my husband and I almost bought a beautiful industrial loft in downtown Houston 20 years ago and I still regret not choosing that property!
Industrial design may feature iron pipe shelves, concrete counters, and metal barstools. Caged lights and Edison bulbs are showcased. But then the farmhouse style is incorporated with distressed wood. Exposed brick is another element, and one that can be easily faked if you don’t have real brick in your interior. Or consider galvanized metal accents or decor pieces.
Because of all the hard elements - wood and metal - it’s important to soften the area with textiles like a cozy throw over your couch.
A bohemian farmhouse is the free spirit of farmhouse designs. I feel that this style needs a strong farmhouse base - shiplap, lots of light, and a wood that isn’t too dark. But then the boho aspects come in more in the accessories. Some examples of boho decor items are macrame wall hangings, live plants, and worn Moroccan or Persian rugs.
I believe what makes a room have a boho vibe is variety, a clever mix of different textures and colors, maybe reminiscent of various world cultures. The room below shows distressed wood around the cased opening, a more traditional light fixture, a leather couch combined with mid-century modern pieces (the armoire, chair, and coffee table), and patterns in the rug, blanket, and other textiles.
Focus walls are often used too. You might paint one with small brush strokes against a contrasting background. Or create a vignette by placing multiple flat baskets in an arrangement over a console table or bench.
My favorite textiles for a Boho Farmhouse look are grays and whites in a woven pattern, whether as a bedspread, rug, or throw pillows.
And finally, you have to have “that couch” - you know, the one you’ve seen all over Pinterest and Instagram.
I'm kidding. The brilliance of bohemian or boho style is that it's all about individuality. So start with some basic farmhouse staples and then finish it up with whatever suits your style best.
What’s Your Pick?
Which of these combinations speaks most to you? Or do you have your own take on farmhouse design that we haven’t covered here? Speak out in the comments and let us know!
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