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The modern farmhouse style home trend hearkens back to simpler times, when more American homeowners lived on working farms and were closer to nature. Modern homes built or renovated in the farmhouse style evoke a more rustic, lived-in space; work surfaces, fixtures and floor plans emphasize well-worn function over pristine form.
Features of modern farmhouse architecture include exposed wood ceiling beams, wrought iron interior accents and finishes, wide plank floors and reclaimed materials put to new use, such as barn doors and antique farming tools. In the kitchen, a deep, wide sink (called an apron sink), along with brass tap fixtures and exposed Edison bulbs, can give this room an industrial-chic vibe. Modern farmhouse design relies on clean lines and simplicity as a foundation; where the style really comes to life is in the décor.
While a neutral and natural color palette is usually favored in the modern farmhouse style, pops of color and texture can be cleverly deployed to evoke certain associations. Brick is a great accent material that naturally warms a space: it’s best used in hearth areas, backsplashes and kitchen or pantry floors.
When it comes to color accents in modern farmhouse design, it’s a good rule of thumb to lean toward muted, primary shades — think dusty reds and denim blues. We’ve seen black or dark window frames incorporated too, which add a certain crispness to the room and attractively frame the view outside. Distressed finishes or patina stains can add texture and movement to painted or wood surfaces, reiterating that well-worn feel. Area rugs, kitchen furniture and wall trim are all prime opportunities for color.
In common spaces, large, comfortable furniture and wicker storage baskets create a cozy atmosphere — some designers even like to mix and match styles and textures, like pairing burlap window treatments with a sophisticated white couch. Antique (or vintage-style) accessories add the cherry on top of modern farmhouse décor; a Shaker end table or coat hooks made from farming implements make thoughtful design touches.
Throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries, homes in rural America were built with function top-of-mind. These dwellings often needed to accommodate large families and farm workers; it was common for a farmhouse to have two or three floors, plus a cellar for food storage. In communities that relied on agriculture, homebuilders did not often have the time or means to paint or finish every last detail of their homes. Farmhouses and barns were built with sturdy, affordable materials — think heavy wooden beams and wide wooden planks — and the interiors were planned to prioritize heat retention and communal gathering.
The modern farmhouse style is a fairly new trend in American interior design, and owes much of its recent popularity to Chip and Joanna Gaines of the show “Fixer Upper” on HGTV. The trend is sometimes considered a spin on the “shabby-chic” fad that preceded it, in which chalkboards, mismatched silverware and rag rugs were the darlings of home décor. However, the modern farmhouse trend elevates this look by introducing clean lines and simplified textures informed by elements of historic home construction, such as exposed wood door frames and shiplap paneling.
Shiplap gets its name from its historic use in shipbuilding and seaside home construction, since its interlocking joints help keep water and wind out of interior spaces. Shiplap wall paneling came back into fashion through modern farmhouse décor, this time more for its aesthetic appeal than for its function. Long, thin wooden slats are laid side by side to cover an entire room or accent wall, held together by interlocking joints. Fortunately, modern building materials make it much easier to keep homes weathertight, but the visibility of its seams makes shiplap a perfect fit in a modern farmhouse style home.
The recent popularity of the modern farmhouse style coincides with the desire for more open-concept floor plans that encourage gathering. This is also reminiscent of original American farmhouse construction, where families dined, read and played together in one common space. The intention of modern farmhouse architecture and design is to encourage this kind of community place-making within the home, whether that’s playing games in front of a wide fireplace or cooking together in an airy, open kitchen.
The style’s emphasis on natural materials and textures may speak to a desire to “unplug” from our busy lives at the end of the day. Wood and wrought iron accents add texture and hominess, while minimalist room design reflects contemporary tastes.
No matter the square footage of the home, modern farmhouse architecture maximizes the available space with open-concept floor plans and low, wide windows that make rooms appear larger and let in lots of natural light. Uncluttered design also encourages organization and cleanliness, and can inspire a sense of calm. The modern farmhouse style is often favored for being family-friendly: Open floor plans make it easier for little ones to move around the home, and rustic finishes are more tolerant to wear and tear.
Perhaps best of all, modern farmhouse style promotes sustainability: By utilizing reclaimed or second-hand materials, designers and homebuilders can give perfectly usable objects a second life. And relying on natural building blocks like wood, ceramic and stone equals a move away from synthetic, non-biodegradable materials.
If you’re inspired to create your own modern farmhouse haven, Artform Home Plans in North Hampton, NH can help you realize that vision. Architect Wendy Welton and her team can work with you to design a modern farmhouse style home that fits your needs and tastes. Contact us today to learn more or to start designing your dream home.