If you appreciate the beauty of tranquil country life but can’t quite bear the thought of living more than a short walk away from the nearest stores, the modern farmhouse trend might just be for you. Combining the clean, minimalist lines of urban interiors with that of relaxed, country style, the modern farmhouse trend embraces palettes that are fresh, calm and warm. It’s a little bit country and a little bit contemporary in style - a place where Town Mouse and Country Mouse reach the perfect compromise over coffee and cake, if you will.
The hallmarks of the modern farmhouse style include shiplap walls, wide plank floors, reclaimed and natural woods, as well as sober, vintage-inspired colors – all of which come together to create a relaxed, yet refined look. While your typical cottage interior unapologetically lines its surfaces with busy, floral fabrics and toile de Jouy, the modern farmhouse look is far more restraint – with defining features such as exposed wood, simple fabrics and neutral colorways.
A white or greige color palette is the staple of the modern farmhouse style, but that doesn’t mean you have to abandon color or pattern completely. The look embraces muted hues such as blue, pastel green and blush pinks, and has evolved to welcome large blocks of darker colors such as charcoal, navy and green that are ideal for defining an area and drawing in the eye. Using a bright pop of color or bold pattern in soft furnishings, wallpaper or similar fixtures is also a great way to liven up an otherwise flat, modern farmhouse room scheme.
‘Up until recently, there has been a clear distinction between town and county styles, with the tendency for cutting-edge design in the city and a more ‘shabby chic’ look for country homes,’ says Dean Keyworth, author of ‘The New Country - city style for rural living’: out in January 2023. ‘In more recent years however, the distinction has blurred to combine the best features of both styles. Emulating the beauty and relaxed style of the traditional American farmhouse, trends such as modern farmhouse have taken shape to suit both country and city dwellings and everything in between.’
9 perfect modern farmhouse palettes
1. Charcoal and white
Less is more in a modern farmhouse kitchen so stick to a limited color palette. In this kitchen designed by Anna Burles, creative director at Run for The Hills (opens in new tab) , an exposed brick floor adds warmth and rustic charm, and contrasts well with the clean lines of the modern, charcoal kitchen units.
A white, wooden panelled ceiling and crisp, white marble worktops bounce light around the room, while eye-catching pendant lights define the island area and draw the eye into the centre of the room. With their rattan seats and metal legs, the bar stools are ideal for country life, but have a subtle nod to contemporary industrial style.
2. Warm wood and stripes
Exposed wood and brickwork, and anything that allows the natural beauty of a home’s original features to shine, are key to emulating the contemporary rustic style. In this modern farmhouse dining room, designed by Samantha Todhunter (opens in new tab), the clean lines of the Oxenwood dining table and benches provide a nice contrast to the natural form of the aged wooden beams, winding staircase and wooden kitchen.
Rustic-inspired pendant lights from Maisons du Monde (opens in new tab) and the bold and unfussy Ticking Stripe 2 fabric in Black by Ian Mankin suit the scheme perfectly.
‘I think the way we live and work today means transitioning from pastiche farmhouse interiors to simple, pared-back spaces that respect the history of an old building but reflect necessities of modern living,’ says designer Samantha Todhunter.
3. GREEN AND GREIGE
Hazy greys, off-whites and crisp ecrus work well to add serenity to this modern farmhouse bedroom. These colors particularly lend themselves well to restful spaces with low, wooden beams and can be used to brighten up the space and let the light in.
‘Our palette here is layered in pure whites, off-whites and tones from nature - from deep greens, to stones and earthy neutrals that enhance the sense of calm,’ explains Anna Burles, creative director at Run for The Hills. ‘These are all mixed together in tactile materials and layered with soft rugs and cosy textured accessories in tones that add warmth to the space.’
4. EARTHY NEUTRALS
While you’re playing around with earthy neutral colors on the walls, add neutral textures in window treatments and furnishings to add interest and soften any harsh lines in a room. This is perfect for channelling a relaxed, country vibe – even when you’re deep in the city.
‘Creating a modern take on a farmhouse living room is all about choosing a natural, soft earthy palette with some textural variation thrown to create depth and intrigue,’ says the designer Abigail Ahern (opens in new tab) who created these curtains for Hillarys.
‘Muted chalky tones work beautifully juxtaposed with materiality that has oodles of texture like rough-hewn wood, or hand thrown ceramics that feel a little raw. Neutrals coupled with natural textures pair so beautifully together and bring a slightly more modern take to what is traditionally known as farmhouse.’
5. BLUSH AND WHITE
Using a touch of pink or blush in soft furnishings and accessories can look fresh and inviting and is a positive step to softening up any harsh contemporary lines that might threaten to mess with your rustic mojo. A touch of blush can look great as modern farmhouse wall decor too – adding warmth to a north-facing room that doesn’t get much light, for example, while keeping the look fresh and clean. Try Farrow & Ball Nancy’s Blush or Calamine paints.
Pictured above in this farmhouse designed by Samantha Todhunter, the walls have been kept to a crisp white and team well with the wooden dining table sourced at an antique and textiles fair. The dining chairs were reupholstered in Cortina Athene leather in Rosa, while a set of botanical prints add interest to the wall. Pretty blush fabric in the cushions and window seat balance out the look.
6. A POP OF YELLOW
Mixing and matching old and new can breathe new life into a property and create an eye-catching look. The easiest way to inject a modern pop of color into an otherwise traditional setting is with a bright piece of furniture such as a velvet, yellow sofa – as shown here in this barn house designed by Pia Design (opens in new tab).
‘The key features of the building were the 17th-century oak beams,’ explains Pia. ‘To elevate them, we paired back the rest of the scheme using dark grey colours, natural Carrara marble, contemporary geometric wallpapers and tiles and bright pops of color in the furnishings. The finished result makes it clear which elements are original and listed and which are modern additions, but they all marry well together to create a harmonious setting.’
7. Dark blue and wood
You don’t always have to stick to pale shades of grey when emulating the modern farmhouse look, as this dark living room proves. ‘A dark wall contrasts well with an oak floor,' says Anna Bowen of Inside Studio (opens in new tab). 'It perfectly blends classic country and modern styles.’
8. LUSH GREEN, WHITE AND BLACK
The perfect way to complement white shiplap walls in your rustic-inspired scheme is with a block of color such as green or blue and a touch of black to draw the eye in and define the look.
‘Our take on the modern farmhouse palette features of Vintage Peony, which is a soft warm plaster pink with cabinets in complementary Thyme,’ explains brand director Anna Hill of Fenwick & Tilbrook (opens in new tab) . ‘The tiling effect on the backsplash has been done with our Driftwood and Scribblings – a clever take on classic checkerboard tiling using more softened tones than your classic stark white and saturated black. The shiplap clad walls surrounding the kitchen units are in an off-white Cascade, which works in harmony with the soft, muted tones throughout the space.’
9. LILAC AND GREY
When it comes to keeping a design theme running throughout your home, the bathroom can often get overlooked. But while boxy white sanitaryware and plain tiling may be practical, the bathroom is an easy place in which to assert your design authority as it can lend itself well to the modern farmhouse look. For example, a curvaceous roll top bath, wide plank floorboards and mindfully chosen paint colors – such as Earthborn’s Lily Lily Rose – work beautifully in this modern farmhouse bathroom, pictured above. This blend of lilac and grey paint is, in fact, an homage to John Singer Sargeant’s famous painting.
‘It’s easy to create rustic style in your home with nature-inspired colors,’ says Cathryn Sanders, Head of Creative at Earthborn (opens in new tab) . ‘Subtle shades of pink, lilac and grey blend to provide a colour of surprising depth. Meanwhile, earthy hues like Freckle - a subdued terracotta blended from natural clays - or Donkey Ride - a sophisticated, warm beige - perfectly balance a country look with a more refined finish.’
Is modern farmhouse in style for 2023?
Yes, the modern farmhouse look continues to be a big interior design trend for 2023. It helps to create the moods we all want right now - a sense of calm, a connection to nature, relaxation - so if anything, it's getting bigger.
It's also fairly easy to incorporate into your home. 'Consider the characteristics of your property - what are the striking features and which are the ones you would like to elevate?' asks Pia Pelkonen, creative director at Pia Design. 'Wooden beams, original tiled floors or other quirky, existing features are all part of the appeal of the modern farmhouse look and a good starting point for creating this look.'
She suggests that you consider materials and texture. 'Rustic, aged wood, surfaces with patina and soft, cosy and unfussy materials like linen and wool add to the warmth of a space,' Pia says.
There are also ways to add rustic character to new builds. 'If your property is more on the modern side or otherwise lacks original characteristics, it gives you an opportunity to add interest where needed to bring in more rustic charm,' Pia says. 'Old scaffolding boards or other aged planks of wood are a great way to add a ’Soho Farmhouse’ inspired look. Exposed brick or stone walls or tumbled stone floors can also help to create character - reclamation yards are a great source of inspiration!'
One of the UK's most respected tech and smart homes writers, Emily Peck also covers everything from interiors style to decorating trends. She is a contributor to Wired UK, and has also had a column in House Beautiful. She has written for publications such as Grand Designs, Stylist, Shortlist, Woman&Home, BBC, Ideal Home and House & Garden. She was once the Features Editor of Ideal Home.
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