Farmhouse living room ideas - expert decor advice for bringing the rustic look to the city
Farmhouse living room ideas to help you create a feeling of modern country style, no matter where you live
Farmhouse living room ideas don't need you to live you in actual farmhouse. This is a state of mind, not a demand for you to move to a rural area. Appreciation for the current farmhouse interiors trend shows no sign of waning anytime soon, and we can see why. Relaxed, fuss-free and welcoming, this contemporary take on country style sits well in almost any home – from new builds and architect-designed abodes to period properties and modernist houses.
Neither overly decorative nor starkly minimalist, this fresh update on farmhouse style combines rustic touches with a restrained aesthetic. These living room ideas avoid ornate details in favor of more practical nods to rural interiors architecture. The look draws heavily on laid-back Californian style, so mid-century furniture feels right at home a modern farmhouse living room, as do statement stone fireplaces, vintage textiles and Shaker-inspired designs.
Commune Design’s Santa Anita project, featured below, successfully distills the essence of the modern farmhouse trend into a tiny forest home outside LA. ‘We set out to marry a variety of inspirations and references, such as historic American cabins, traditional chalets, Shaker and Japanese design, all through the framework of utility and function,’ explain its designers.
To help give you a better overview of the trend, we’ve compiled some of our favorite farmhouse living room ideas that are guaranteed to inspire, plus a few insider tips and tricks from designers, architects and industry experts.
Farmhouse living room ideas
1. Balance old with new
When London-based architects De Rosee Sa refurbished this Edwardian home, the brief was to design a large rear extension that complimented the original period details and character of the house.
Inspired by current living room trends for both Scandinavian and Californian interiors, the architects created an unfussy yet inviting open-plan kitchen and living space. A generous window seat overlooks the garden, while the wood-burner, ceiling beams and mid-century furniture lend the room a cabin-like quality.
‘Through the use of a warm color palette and textured aesthetic, the final scheme beautifully balances the old and the new,’ say the architects.
2. Showcase collected treasures
We fell in love with the cozy East Hamptons cottage of interior designer Glenn Ban after spotting it in Laura Fenton’s book Living Small. It is an artfully layered, farmhouse-style living space, a prime example of modern farmhouse wall decor. Nodding to the trend for beige living rooms, the taupe sofa stops the white walls from feeling modern or stark.
‘Always the collector, my home is filled with treasures I’ve amassed over the years,‘ Glenn says. ‘The chair and antique box that I use as a side table are antiques, and the coffee table is a mid-century design by Adrian Pearsall. I anchored the room with a linen sofa and striped rug, and hung a collection of vintage photography and paintings on the walls’.
3. Embrace wood cladding
‘This isn’t our permanent home, although sometimes I wish it was,’ says designer Simone Haag of her weekend house on Phillip Island.
The Anglers Shack, as it’s known, originally belonged to her parents-in-law and received a sympathetic revamp at the hands of the acclaimed Australian interior designer.
‘The spaces have remained fairly unchanged,’ says Simone, who wanted a ‘not so beachy’ look for the renovated 1970s abode, combining color and texture and channeling Californian cool for this cozy living room. Key to the shack’s modern-rustic appeal are the pine lining boards that were added to the walls, and in the case of the living room, stained black for added depth and drama.
4. Upscale the Fireplace
INNESS is a beautifully designed country retreat surrounded by rolling fields in Upstate New York.
Designed by Post Company and Taavo Somer, the hotel features 28 cabins and a central 12-room farmhouse that overlooks the mountains and surrounding organic farm.
Pictured here is the lounge area in the hotel’s convivial restaurant, where a striking modern farmhouse fireplace stretches up to meet the timber-clad apex roof.
‘Design elements like vintage rugs, exposed beams and a roaring fireplace add a sense of familiarity to this welcoming space,’ say the designers, who wanted to create a space that felt akin to staying at a friend’s home.
5. Experiment with color
‘We strive to create spaces that are joyful and comfortable,’ says Emma Pocock of design studio Turner Pocock. ‘While more muted tones certainly have their place, especially when working with natural materials, we tend to stick to our TP aesthetic,’ Emma adds, referencing the colorful snug in this French mountain home.
Here a bold blue hue was used on the wall paneling. Pops of green and yellow nod to a mid-century palette, while the white-painted ceiling prevents the room from feeling too boxed in. Sofa trends for bold patterns can still be used in farmhouse living room ideas - just keep the print to two or three colors at most. Exposed beams, a chunky side table and wooden floors help to keep the space on the right side of rustic.
6. Draw from tradition
When reimagining the interior of this Californian bolthole in Angeles National Forest, LA-based Commune Design drew from a variety of references.
‘These included historic American cabins, traditional Swedish and French chalets, as well as Shaker and Japanese design,’ says the studio. ‘We selected a vintage Borge Mogensen daybed in original fabric and a vintage Bruno Mathsson lounge chair, plus a Shaker-inspired peg rail to keep everything off the floor. We wanted the interior to be unique and crafted but not clichéd in any way.’
The result of choosing this simplistic living room furniture is a restrained and functional space that allows the cabin’s original features to shine.
7. Combine contrasting materials
San Francisco design firm Jute Home took inspiration from the surrounding wine country for the interior of this new-build ranch in Sonoma County. ‘We were trying to add texture and warmth without drawing the eye away from the view, which is the true focal point,’ says designer Alison Davin, who combined rustic wooden antiques with custom metal pieces and durable textiles such as rugs in woven leather.
‘Here, the steel-framed doors added a linear quality so we designed a custom circular light fixture to balance out the scheme,’ explains Alison. ‘The console is an antique workbench that we repurposed to make the space more approachable.’ This neutral living room idea is one that can easily flow through to the rest of the home, making a very liveable scheme.
8. Bring the outdoors in
‘We designed retractable wall panels for this home, which protect the windows from punishing winter storms,’ says Joe Herrin of Heliotrope Architects, the studio behind this contemporary coastal house, which sits on a windswept shoreline in Washington’s Salish Sea. In this open plan space, a rustic living room meets a modern farmhouse dining room.
‘Nevertheless, the house opens up completely to the outdoors when the weather is fair, allowing the owners to fully interact with the landscape and view.’
A prime example of daylighting, light floods in through the wall of windows, highlighting the details and wood grain of the interior joinery, all of which is made from local timbers such as Douglas Fir and Western Red Cedar.
9. Renovate sympathetically
‘Our aim was to create a sense of ease within the building,’ says Tina Schnabel, interior designer at New York studio BarlisWedlick Architects, who designed the interior of this new-build passive house, which sits alongside a renovated 19th-century barn in Ancram, Columbia County.
‘During the design process, and with the selection of finishes and paint colors, we aimed to avoid any stark or abrupt contrasts,’ she adds. ‘The idea was to establish smooth, intentional transitions between the paint finishes, natural wood beams and volumes of millwork, along with the furnishings and textile selections for the main open-plan living space. A neutral, textural palette gives the space warmth without harsh contrast.
No living room window treatments were used, to ensure the room's link to nature through the view.
10. Go all over with white
When interior designer Leanne Ford overhauled this 1920s hunting cabin in LA, she opted to paint almost every surface white to brighten and unify the space. Floors, walls, ceilings and interior fittings received the whitewash treatment, refreshing the interior of the timber building and helping to make this white living room feel instantly more spacious.
‘I toyed with the idea of keeping the wood natural, but who was I kidding?’ says Leanne. ‘A painter’s gotta paint!’ The renovation transformed the living area into a serene and airy space that capitalizes on the sunlight pouring through the cabin’s large picture window.
What makes a farmhouse living room?
A neutral palette and lots of texture is a surefire way to master the modern rustic living room look, so tactile materials that age well – like timber, stone, coir, leather and – are your go-to. That said, don’t be afraid to bring in a bit of color and pattern if that’s your thing.
The joy of farmhouse style is its breadth and variety, so you don’t have to shy away from putting your stamp on your space. ‘Muted tones certainly have their place, especially when working with natural materials, but we tend to stick to our signature aesthetic,’ says Emma Pocock of design studio Turner Pocock, who has devised interior schemes for an array of country homes. ‘Color and pattern help us to create spaces that are joyful and comfortable,’ she affirms.
Tessa Pearson is an interiors and architecture journalist, formerly Homes Director at ELLE Decoration and Editor of ELLE Decoration Country. When she's not covering design and decorative trends for Livingetc, Tessa contributes to publications such as The Observer and Table Magazine, and has recently written a book on forest architecture. Based in Sussex, Tessa has a keen interest in rural and coastal life, and spends as much time as possible by the sea.
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