The Modern Farmhouse Look in Interior Design Explained

The modern farmhouse look is relevant for all areas of interior design. Whether you live in the city, in the country or in the suburbs, there is little (read: no) chance that you missed the rise of the contemporary rustic style. The hallmarks of humble aesthetics (like white-plank walls and wide-plank floors) swept across the United States in less than a swift decade — even in places where proper trusses could not be found.

The clean, country look has become popular, in part because it’s affordable. It’s known for cheap materials and “weathered” furniture that’s far from valuable (even better if it’s been pre-scraped from a local flea market). And while the aesthetic’s rise benefited from timing (more on that below), it struck a nostalgic chord with its local audience.

“I think farmhouses are an important part of the American vernacular, and the story makes them immediately familiar and relevant to many homeowners,” says New York designer Robert Stilin, who modeled his own home from after a barn about two decades ago. “There is also a humility and simplicity to the farmhouse design that really lends itself to comfortable and easy living. I imagine a lot of landlords are also particularly drawn to this.

And although the modern farmhouse style has diminished in recent times, it remains an important influence on casual contemporary interiors. Here’s everything you need to know.

Modern farmhouse in interior design explained

white living room with large round suspension

(Image credit: Amy Neunsinger)

What is Modern Farmhouse Style?

A contemporary twist on country style with traces of minimalist design (think spare parts and white paint on the walls), the modern farmhouse combines rustic decor and nods to the “shabby chic” era but with cleaner lines. The aesthetic is a relaxed and simple approach to interior design, with palpable warmth.

“I think what’s appealing and important about the farmhouse style is that it has a sense of authenticity – which to me means the materials and the vibe should resonate as real,” says the architect of Alabama. Jeffrey Dungan (opens in a new tab).

Granted, you could characterize the modern farmhouse aesthetic as a notoriously humble approach to design; the look sheds light on the honest materials of simpler times, and DIY champions update modest homeowners that modest homeowners can accomplish with their own hands.

Where did the modern farmhouse look come from?

A whitewashed interior with a wood-panelled ceiling

(Image credit: Anne Sage. Painting design: Portola Paintings)

While the style nods to early American farmhouses, which were spared for practicality, the modern farmhouse has become one of the biggest trends in interior design over the past decade.

“I think the modern farmhouse style started because people were fixing up old farmhouses with modern materials, and then it started to resonate with other homeowners because it has the warmth and charm of vintage elements and l ‘habitability of modern equipment’, says the designer. Leanne Ford (opens in a new tab)one of the first stars of the movement.

Any story of the rise of the modern farmhouse would be remiss to leave out Chip and Joanna Gaines, who rose to fame after the 2008 housing crash. As HGTV stars, they incorporated the humble modern farmhouse style into through their show, “Fixer Upper,” which debuted in 2013. The affable duo popularized a unique, easy-to-execute formula — like adding shiplap walls — that has become ubiquitous in modern home renovations in the United States.

Does that mean the whole aesthetic was bloated on cable TV? Not necessarily. The bedrock of the movement still finds its roots where farms are truly part of the landscape.

“The modern farmhouse and modern barn trend emerged about a decade ago – although we didn’t necessarily see it as a trend at the time,” says the interior designer. Michel Del Piero (opens in a new tab), noting the strong presence of the style in regions with a history with agriculture. “We see that our Hamptons customers have embraced the aesthetic, as barns and farmhouses are plentiful here and an updated version seems appropriate. Open, light-filled spaces are a wonderful backdrop for mixing modern elements with more classic pieces, and the generally neutral tones allow us to layer textures and styles.

What does a modern farmhouse space look like?

Large farmhouse kitchen with rustic wooden shelves and glass globe chandelier

(Image credit: Leanne Ford)

Modern farmhouse interiors are awash with white walls, wide plank floors, and reclaimed materials. In architecture, you don’t need an actual farmhouse to inhabit this trend – but if you’re starting from scratch, there are a few key design elements.

If you had to choose one of the most popular fixtures in the modern farmhouse style, it’s the ever so timeless farmhouse sink, a must-have in your home. rustic kitchen ideas. “When it comes to the latest kitchen trends, there’s no doubt that the farmhouse, or apron sink, is one of the most popular choices for the modern farmhouse aesthetic,” says Lauren Williams of Washington DC. MT Architects (opens in a new tab).

You’ll also find a focus on repurposed spaces, like the cloakroom, a bit of a luxury for owners who don’t necessarily work in the fields. “I think farmhouse-style mudroom entrances are popular not only because they’re charming, but also because they’re functional,” says Sondra Zabroske, architect at DC’s design-build firm. four brothers (opens in a new tab). “Although it’s a recent trend to strive for minimalism, as Americans we tend to have a lot of stuff, and if you don’t make a home for your stuff, you you’ll end up with a pile of coats on your kitchen table.”

And yet, minimalist ideas are certainly a feature of modern farmhouse interiors, often with open layouts, neutral (if not white) color schemes, spare (but not too spare) pieces, and a mix of new and old.

A photo of a white farmhouse style sink

(Image credit: Laura Metzler. Design: MV Architects)


A twin bedroom with blue ragged walls

(Image credit: Stephen Kent Johnson. Design: Robert Stilin)

Of course, the modern farmhouse aesthetic that was popularized on TV was bound to run into some obstacles – popularity has recently been pushed back, with many industry figures claiming the movement is old-fashioned. Yet the central elements of the aesthetic continue to resonate and adapt. There is now an increase farm rooms as a way to create a relaxed environment to facilitate sleep.

“It has become a phenomenon, however, and we are seeing changes in style,” says interior designer Michael Del Piero. “Materials have evolved (less planks, perhaps) and the style itself feels much broader.”

You’ll find that farmhouse-inspired interiors today take on an extra pop of color, often updating the signature white plank walls with a bold hue, or pull together farmhouse living rooms with high-end furniture.

“I think the evolution of ‘farmhouse style’ has developed primarily through the modernization process: the introduction of finer details, newer materials and contemporary comforts,” says Robert Stilin (opens in a new tab). “Of course, in a modern farmhouse, all of these sophisticated touchstones interact with an architectural vernacular that has a very rich past, so it’s really a play between old and new that has helped the Modern Farmhouse style to mature into what it is today.