Between the mason jars, flea market finds, and exposed wood as far as the eyes can see, it seems like more than ever, we’re living in the age of the “farmhouse style.” Whether you spot it on your carefully curated Instagram hashtags (#farmhouse has racked up 4.4 million posts, no joke) or notice the same familiar themes in the farm to table restaurant around the corner, the rise of farmhouse style is real.
Is this trend a flash in the pan, or here to stay? And how can you implement this coveted aesthetic in your home to entice potential buyers without going too far?
HomeLight spoke to farmhouse friendly interior designers and real estate agents well-versed in the trend to learn about where farmhouse started, what it looks like, and how you can bring elements of the style into your decor…tastefully.
The rise of farmhouse style
While farmhouses have been around since the settling of America, the modern farmhouse trend is relatively new. The term “modern farmhouse” was first used in the New York Times in 2016, and some interior designers attribute the rise of the trend to the economic recession of 2008.
Classic elements of the farmhouse style are simple and quaint, similar to that of the shabby chic trend that prevailed around the late ‘80s. Farmhouse is often cited for its simple design, harkening back to humbler beginnings, mixing the old with new and utilizing vintage pieces.
However, this is only half of the story, explains top-selling Reno-area real estate agent Mike Wood:
“You want to know why everyone and their mother wants this style? HGTV came out with a show starring Chip and Joanna Gaines. People love the interaction of the two of them and her style took over. So, everybody wants to be like her.”
HGTV’s Fixer Upper wasn’t just a hit, it was a phenomenon. The show, featuring the husband and wife duo renovating outdated homes in Waco, Texas, drew some of the largest viewership numbers for cable in late 2017. The show captured the attention of HGTV fans and novices alike, as viewers found charm in the couple’s signature rustic farmhouse style home decor with which they renovated each home.
From there, the trend has exploded. Google Trends data shows that interest in the term “farmhouse” rose from a popularity value of 25 in 2014 to 83 in 2019 (where 100 is the highest).
“Hence reclaimed barn wood and large open spaces like never before,” says Wood.
Although he’s been in real estate over a decade and sold over 1,100 homes, it’s only recently that the farmhouse aesthetic has taken over. “I’ve never seen so many open cabinets in my life as I have in the last six to 12 months… it’s almost ridiculous.”
Elements of rustic farmhouse style home decor
While designers and homeowners take liberties in the farmhouse style, some or all of the following elements are often implemented in the design.
Structure true to the farmhouse: Sweet and simple
The structure of farmhouse homes is simple, they favor “functionality over style and has its roots in a mix of colonial styles,” says Marty Basher, a home design expert for Modular Closets with bylines in Reader’s Digest and Martha Stewart Living. “These homes have a classically square and symmetrical look to them.”
Some common elements in farmhouse structures include:
- Dentil moldings
This wooden trim, used on both interiors and exteriors gets its name from the teeth-like blocks repeated across the structure. The style comes from Greek and Roman architecture and is most often used around interior doors and ceilings or exterior roof lines.
- Pedimented dormers
These simple dormers also come from classical Greek and Roman architecture. The molding above the window on pedimented dormers will accentuate the triangular shape, and molding on the sides is reminiscent of columns.
- Flattened columns
Often referred to as pilasters, these columns are more decorative than structural and protrude just slightly from the wall. In the farmhouse style, they’re flat and simple, with little additional flair or decoration.
Materials with character
Continuing with the theme of simplicity and functionality, materials within the farmhouse style often appear natural or aged. Each element gives off the feeling of being comfortably lived-in, but not worn down. In farmhouse style, you’ll commonly find:
- Weathered wood
Part of the chic charm, the wood can be reclaimed or artificially weathered and implemented as an accent on walls or through pieces of furniture.
- Vintage items
Part of the appeal of farmhouse rustic is it’s warm “lived-in” aesthetic, explains home and design expert Rhianna Miller, who regularly contributes to topics on home design for USA Today; “Choose a few vintage pieces that add character to your home. Think flea market finds, and old estate sales.”
These natural elements add texture to the home while maintaining simplicity. Often, wicker and rattan used as a decorating element in baskets or kitchen chairs.
A classic wallboard found often in farmhouse-style homes, beadboard originally came in single strips that fit together through tongue and groove. Nowadays, you can purchase beadboard in larger panels for easier and more affordable installation. Beadboard can also be installed from floor to ceiling, or as a wainscoting accent.
Features that say ‘farmhouse’
Commonly featured on Instagram posts and home design shows, many of the small features of farmhouse style are attainable and of the moment trendy. The easiest and most common farmhouse features are often in the heart of the home: the kitchen. If you’re looking for touches of a farmhouse in your home, consider trying out a few of the following:
- Open shelving
Removing the cabinet doors and hardware of each shelf can create a rustic and cozy vibe in your kitchen, as long as each shelf is carefully curated. This quick hack doesn’t take more than an afternoon, and a little elbow grease according to fourth best-selling magazine in the US, Better Homes and Gardens.
- Exposed wood
Adding or accentuating worn wooden beams in the ceiling highlights the natural barn-like feeling of a room. In homes that don’t structurally require wooden beams, some homeowners install them just for design purposes. Installing decorative wooden beams can cost anywhere between $1,512 to $2,114 per room, but there are more affordable alternatives, including faux wooden beams, or using exposed wood frames as accents in doorways.
- Mixed metal
Incorporating mixed metals furthers the mix and match mentality of farmhouse style, but needs to be done with the intention to keep items from clashing. When mixing metals:
- Use matte black or dark colors. This can work well as your “base” color since it’s hard to clash with black.
- Try to mix more than match. Finishes that look too similar will clash or look careless.
- Don’t go beyond three finishes. Mixing can easily go overboard. Keep finishes from getting too hectic with one dominant color, then one or two complementary finishes.
- Butcher block
Butcher block countertops or accents can draw a whole farmhouse kitchen together. Installing butcher block in your kitchen can range from $1,710 to $5,000, but a more affordable and less permanent alternative might be a butcher block dining table.
- Apron sinks
Farmhouse or apron sinks are the signature accessory in a farmhouse style kitchen. The large basin sinks are often porcelain and can serve as a focal point in the kitchen. Apron sinks can range from about $400 on the low end, to well over $1,000. If you’re considering a farmhouse sink for your kitchen, it’s also likely that you’ll need to adjust the height of your countertops.
How to sell your home with rustic farmhouse style home decor
With farmhouse being as popular as it is, styling your home with elements of it can help entice buyers. However, there’s no need for a massive renovation to make the perfect farmhouse kitchen; a few nods to the style can sometimes be more than enough. Stick to accents and accessories to embrace the style on a budget.
Aim for farmhouse, not farm
Farmhouse has elements of farm, but do not confuse this trend with a trip to the barn. To keep things classic instead of kitschy, avoid “cliche country pieces like roosters and sunflower paintings everywhere,” says Basher. Instead, look to subtler accents, like antique jugs or rustic throws for the couch.
Keep it practical, not cluttered
Adding flea market finds to every room in an attempt to evoke farmhouse style can lead to a cluttered and confusing space.
Each farmhouse accent or item you pick up should have some functionality in your home.
“Have a plan and a use for 95% of the pieces—an antique jug can be a vase, an old wardrobe can be a kitchen pantry, and so on,” explains Miller. “Sure, that wooden ladder would look cute against a wall, but try to give it a purpose. Next to the pantry, it can be a fun tea towel holder. Or in the mud room, it could be a great shoe rack.”
Make the space feel fresh with fresh or dried flower arrangements
A few simple wildflower floral arrangements can lighten up the room while making it feel cozy. For a simple arrangement worthy of a farmhouse, follow these steps from seasoned home improvement blogger Liz Marie:
- Opt for a vintage vessel.
Start with a farmhouse style vase, and get creative with it. Use a rustic jug, mason jar, or old pitcher.
- Use a variety of flowers and greens.
Gather fresh or dried flowers of different heights, sizes, and blooms. Don’t shy away from including lush leaves and stemmed plants.
- Keep it eclectic and random.
You don’t have to be a professional florist to arrange farmhouse flowers. The bouquets should look more random than intentional as if you just gathered wildflowers from the field. Cut stems to different lengths to create dimension and depth.
In lieu of fresh flowers, dried arrangements or hanging flowers can have a similar effect.
Keep your color palette mostly neutral
The farmhouse color palette is soothing, calm, and clean explains Basher: “The most common colors used in American farmhouse style are neutral colors and lots of colors that have gray undertones. Slates, blues, and purples are the most popular.”
Looking to add a pop of color to your farmhouse styled room? Try one of the following.
- Gray: Benjamin Moore, Revere Pewter or Sherwin Williams Light French Gray
- Blue: Benjamin Moore Misty Blue or Sherwin Willaims Mild Blue
- White: Sherwin Williams Alabaster or Benjamin Moore White Dove
Look for texture more than color
Since the farmhouse style employs a neutral palette, you’ll want to bring energy and depth into each room with a mix of textures. In addition to natural woods and mixed metals bring in wooly blankets, natural fiber rugs, and linen pillows. As long as you purchase decor in the neutral palette, you won’t have to worry about textures clashing.
If you’re preparing to sell your home, implementing some rustic farmhouse style decor can be a great way to bring in buyers. However, as with any trend, leaning too far into it can backfire. You don’t want buyers to worry: “In 10, 15 years, do we find ourselves going ‘Oh gosh, yeah remember when that was the trend?’” laments Wood.
Luckily, farmhouse style has its roots in classic American architecture. Tastefully deploying a few elements will make your home seem both classic and on-trend.
Header Image Source: (Breadmaker/ Shutterstock)