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.
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.
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 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:
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
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 !
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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!
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
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.
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
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!
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.