Farmhouse Decor on a Budget: Small Changes for a Big Impact

Farmhouse decor

 

In the historic sense, the word "farmhouse" was never meant to describe a design style. There were no particular architects or designers or industrial breakthroughs to spark a new artistic movement. In fact, during the 1800s and into the early 1900s, most farmhouses were built by their respective owners in the rural areas where they lived, using whatever materials that were available because hiring an architect was not affordable. These homes were never built or designed with the intention to impress its guests, they were only meant to serve their purpose, the more practical the better.  Designs were very straightforward and easy to recreate. 

farmhouse decor

As years progressed beyond the Great Depression, building materials, running water and electricity became more accessible in the rural areas where farmhouses were being built.  A new era of the American farmhouse emerged, complete with indoor plumbing, electric stoves and lighting.  The addition of these indoor luxuries, paired with the abundant use of natural materials was the perfect blend that created the warm, cozy charm that is the American farmhouse style. 

Today, farmhouse style has become an ode to America's past with steady popularity, due to its countrified style. Your home doesn't have to feature a huge, wraparound porch or rest on acreage of farmland to contain the country-style interior look. Some basic farmhouse interior design principles can be followed to achieve an inviting, old-country feel inside of your home, whether you're on a farm or in the middle of suburbia. 


General Style

One of our favorite aspects of farmhouse design is the unique juxtaposition between, what I like to call, the 'hard' and 'soft'.  The 'hard' includes natural materials such as stone, wrought iron and wood, while the 'soft' includes throw blankets, upholstery, light, billowy curtains and blanket ladders. An excellent way to get that farmhouse feeling in your own home is to have a good mix of the two. A farmhouse style home should feel cozy and inviting and adding some softness is an easy and affordable way to achieve this.  


farmhouse furniture
 Furniture

Farmhouse style furniture tends to be practical and functional. It prioritizes quality over aesthetics and will often have a warm, worn-in look.  In order to

incorporate this look into your own home, look for natural wood or distressed paint finishes and steel or wrought iron elements. If possible, look for handmade furniture. See examples here:

  • TIP: Scour local flea markets! Any solid wood piece of furniture can be stripped, sanded and refinished with either stain or paint. If painting, we recommend chalk paint.  Annie Sloan has a really nice one with lots of gorgeous colors in the vintage shades you'll want for a farmhouse feel.  It is also available at your local Lowes or Home Depot and most craft stores, like Joann Fabrics and Michaels.  It is an affordable option for refinishing old pieces and  has a matte finish perfect for a farmhouse look. Give it a light distressing on the corners and edges, with some low grain sandpaper for that worn-in, vintage look. Keep in mind, if you plan on painting and distressing, it is best to avoid enamel or latex paint, as it will not distress properly.
  • TIP: The hardware on cabinets and furniture goes a long way in defining the style of the piece.  A quick online search will pull up lots of options, but we like House of Antique Hardware for its variety. Replacing drawer pulls on dressers, cabinet hinges and pulls, and even sink faucets can add a lot of style to a piece without having to break the bank redoing the kitchen or buying a new bedroom set. 

 

 


farmhouse blankets
Fabrics and textiles

One of the easiest and most affordable ways to add a farmhouse feel to your own is with fabrics! Covering a throw pillow or making a table runner or some simple curtains can add a lot of style for very little cost and effort. Common farmhouse fabrics include linen, canvas, denim, ticking, and flour sack. Materials are typically natural fiber, (no spandex or vinyl!) and patterns are simple.  Stripes were a common choice in the traditional American farmhouse, as well as check patterns 

  • TIP: Curtains: An affordable and simple way to give your home that cozy, inviting feel is with light, airy curtains. Choose a light-weave fabric will that allow the natural light in. Lace, white linen or cotton, or eyelet cotton are excellent choices.  Keep in mind that traditionally, people made their own curtains and would therefor keep them simple- not a lot of ruffles or layers.  Picture a chipped-paint window frame with airy, white curtains stirring in the breeze on a warm, spring day. That is the look we are going for.  Add a striped linen valance with matching tie-backs for a touch of color!
  • TIP: Blankets: Throw blankets and pillows are a quick way to give your living room some farmhouse style. Replace your fleece or velvety couch blankets with a handwoven or knitted throw.  Farmhouse-style throw blankets will often be striped with tassels, solid white, or in muted greens, blues or dusty pink. A blanket ladder is an excellent way to display your throws and more. Scour your local flea markets for vintage table runners, blankets, tablecloths, pillow cases and more. You can often find these items at craft fairs and antique shops for very low cost. Displaying them on a blanket ladder is an easy way to add a soft, cozy, farmhouse feel to your living room.

 


storage baskets
Storage Baskets and Crates

For many of us, finding enough storage space is a never-ending task. This is why adding baskets and crates around your home is such a useful tip. If you are going for a farmhouse look, use either natural fiber or metal wire baskets. My personal favorite are seagrass baskets. They have a tropical farmhouse vibe and a light, airy feel. Wooden crates are also an excellent choice. You can usually find affordable, vintage wood crates at antique shops or flea markets. It is also simple to make your own !

  • TIP:  You can easily make your own 'vintage style' crate for under $20 with nothing but a crate, some wood stain and a bottle of Mod PodgeHome Depot and Lowes carry new, unfinished wood crates for around $13 each. With a coat of stain and a DIY photo transfer (click for instructions), you'll have a beautiful, farmhouse style storage solution. 

 

Place a basket by the front door for hats, scarves, umbrellas, etc. If you have an entryway bench, place baskets underneath.  In the living room, add a wood crate next to the sofa for books and magazines, or if you are knitter or crocheter, its a great way to store your yarn. Baskets and crates look great in any room for any items that need storing.

wood crate
      • TIP: If you'd like to use a basket or crate for items that you would normally want to keep out of site, such as cleaning supplies, cords and chargers, etc. here is a simple solution:  Cut a piece of farmhouse style fabric (I used canvas ticking) slightly larger than the opening to the basket or crate and place it on top, tucking in the edges. Not only does it prevent the basket from looking messy, but it also acts as a dust cover, keeping the items inside clean and dust free. It also allows you to store things in the basket that you would normally want to keep out of site: place one next to the TV for video game and controllers, use it as a way to hide unsightly cord and wires, stick frequently used cleaning supplies in a convenient location- the possibilities are endless!
      • TIP: When using wood crates for storage, add some felt feet or just cut some felt fabric and hot glue it to the underside. It makes it easier to slide around and will prevent scratches to the floor. 

       


      Wall Decor:

      Making some farmhouse wall decor can be a really fun activity. There are a lot of different ways you can go, but here are some of my personal favorites. 

      Antique photographs: Antique framed photographs give a real sense of depth

      antique photographs

      and history to your home. If you are not lucky enough to have any of these from your own family, you can usually find them at antique shops. If you are purchasing a frame for it, try using an oval frame like this, or for a more affordable option, try these.  

       

       

       

       

       

      Needlepoint and Embroidery:
      farmhouse wall decor

      Another really fun option to give your home a farmhouse look is adding framed needlepoint, embroidery or cross stitch to your walls.  Antique and vintage pieces can be found on ebay, but these can be pricey. I have found that you can find affordable pieces at thrift shops and antique shops.  Thrift shops will be less pricey, but it will take some looking and little bit of luck!  Craft fairs are also a good place to find these. 

      farmhouse wall decor

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

      Mirrors:  Mirrors are a necessity in any home.  A good farmhouse-style mirror is usually round and/or framed with a rustic look.  If you have a photo wall in your

       farmhouse wall decor

      house, try adding a mirror into the mix! A round mirror mixed in with rectangular photo frames will really soften up the look of the collage. 

       

       

       

       

       

       

      Photo walls: Photo gallery walls are a really fun and interesting way to give your home some personal character. To give yours a farmhouse-style feel, try using wood photo frames with a distressed finish. Personally, I prefer white painted, distressed frames. A white frame will not steal the spotlight from the photo inside. By making the frames on your wall the same style and color, it will keep the focus on the photos. It will also prevent it from looking too cluttered or disorganized, particularly if you are opting for a randomized, collage-type layout.  This site has some amazing examples of photo gallery walls!

      TIP: Try adding a couple of personal items to the photo wall. For example, a small, round mirror or a prayer card- anything that can be hung on the wall can be a great addition! 

       

      Rugs:

      Area rugs can make a huge impact on a room. While large rugs can be pricey, Target has some really nice, affordable options in a farmhouse style.  When choosing a rug or mat, look for natural weave rugs- not carpeting. Farmhouse-style rugs were woven on a loom, and it is mostly this texture that gives them

      farmhouse rug

      their style. These rugs will oftentimes be striped or bordered. While most of the rugs you see will be rectangular, an oval rug like this adds a lot of farmhouse feel to a room. Circular rugs or mats  are also a good choice.  You'll notice in both of these examples, the design of the rug is simple - no busy patterns or bright colors. Remember, in the traditional American farmhouse, utility was generally valued over aesthetics. Notice that the rugs are woven in a natural fibers jute. This is a tough, long-lasting material.  

      Plants:

      Adding plants to your home is one affordable and sure-fire way to give it a natural, country feel. (Just keep in mind, while plants will add a lot to the aesthetic of your home, they are living things that require care. If you do not have the time or the desire to care for plants, there are lots of artificial options.)

      When choosing plants for your home, think carefully about the amount of light your rooms get during the day and pick plants accordingly. If you do not have a lot of natural light, snake plants, pothos, and philodendrons and ferns are good choices. Do some reading about the requirements of each plant you purchase and be sure to water and care for them appropriately. 

      TIP: If you do not have enough floor space near the windows in your home, add

      plant shelf

      a shelf across the window. Just purchase inexpensive shelf brackets (I like cast iron or steel, for a farmhouse look!) You can also find these at Lowes, Amazon, or your local garden center.  For a budget-friendly option, try  building your own shelf- it's easier than you think!

      Instructions:

      1. Measure the width of your window (including the frame), and add enough space on either side for the brackets. Keep in mind that you probably want the shelf top to extend past the bracket by an inch or two. (For example, if your window, with frame, is 40" wide,  and your brackets are 1" thick, the shelf top should be about 44"-46" long.  This allows for the brackets on each side of the window, and the shelf will extend 2"-3" beyond that, on each side. This is a personal preference. 
      2. Visit your local lumber yard and select your wood. For durability and weight-bearing capacity, select a piece of solid, 1” thick hardwood, such as oak, maple or poplar, or a 2” thick SPF (Spruce, Pine, Fir) wood that is
        shelf bracket
        non-pressure treated. 2” SPF wood is sometimes referred to as ‘framing’ lumber. Select a piece that is straight, flat and without any large knots or major structural defects.  Ask them to cut it to the size you determined in step 1.
      3. If you are planning to stain your shelf, select your color. (Or click here for instructions on how to make your own wood stain!) If you are new to staining, we recommend using a water-based stain such as Varathane or Minwax. Varathane Penetrating stain is extremely easy to work with.  It soaks into the wood so you can adjust the color by adding multiple coats. It is also less likely to leave streaks or fingerprints. For a shelf of this size, the smallest can available will be more than enough. (Don't forget to pick up some gloves, as well!)  For a farmhouse look, I recommend a medium brown or grey shade. Early American or Aged Barrel are good choices. 
      4. Select your protectant. Because this shelf will be used for plants, it will need to be sealed. This can be done with your choice of oil finishes- tung oil, teak oil, and linseed oil are all good and affordable choices. They are all readily available at your local hardware store. 
      5. Select your sandpaper. If you do not have a power sander, purchase sheets or a sanding block. You will want both 150 and 220 grit.
      6. Once you have your supplies gathered, put down a drop cloth and get started! We recommend wearing a mask and sanding, staining and sealing outside, if possible.
      7. You will want to first sand with 150 grit to remove the worst of it, then with 220 to give it a nice, smooth finish. 
      8. Once it is sanded, put on your gloves and stain. If you've never stained before, read this first. If you are using penetrating stain, you can give it multiple coats to darken it as much as you'd like. 
      9. Allow stain to dry per instructions on the can.
      10. Finish with oil sealant, per instructions on the can.
      11. Once your piece is complete, just hang your brackets on either side of the window frame. Use a level to ensure the shelf will not be sitting on a slant. Whenever possible, drive the screws into a stud. If there is no stud, be sure to use anchors or mollys, depending on the type of walls you have. The shelf will need to be able to hold the weight of the plants, which are heavier after being watered. 
      12. Place your shelf on top and screw through the holes in the underside of the brackets, to hold the shelf in place. 
      13. Place your plants on top and you have a beautiful and useful plant shelf!

      HAVE FUN

      Remember, the most important part of decorating your home is expressing yourself. While home decor trends and styles are fun, at the end of the day, our homes are our sanctuaries. It should be a physical manifestation of our interests, likes, and hobbies.  Whatever style you choose to decorate your home in, adapt it to fit your personal tastes. Do not feel like you have to discard something you love or purchase something you don't love, just because it does not fit with a specific aesthetic.  Make your home your own and the rest will follow. 

       

      farmhouse decor

       

       

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