Farmhouse Style 101: Everything You Need to Know

According to Becky Shea, an interior designer and founder of Becky Shea Design, farmhouse style is as much a lifestyle as it is a design aesthetic. “It’s really about a lifestyle and bringing that simpler, clean aesthetic to a home, and really focusing on what matters the most,” she says. Often defined as chic, comfy, cozy, or warm, it’s a look that’s been made particularly popular in the last decade or so. And while you might recognize it when you see it, understanding the core design elements and principles can help anyone bring this welcoming and homey style into their space. Below, AD talks with Shea and interior designer Kirsten Krason from House of Jade about farmhouse design and bringing this style to life. 

What is farmhouse style?

Though there can be some fluidity in forms, farmhouse style is generally separated into two distinct design aesthetics: traditional farmhouses and modern farmhouses. The classic farmhouse look—also known as a traditional farmhouse—is often defined by a more rustic country style, often making use of vintage furniture or familiar patterns like plaid. “Traditional farmhouses definitely take more of that craftsmanship from the craftsman movement,” Shea says. “It’s simpler, flat cut; [it] features unlacquered brass, for example, and [it’s] a little bit more traditionalist.” Deeper colors like burgundy, green, or blue are also common in a more rustic farmhouse style. 

A farmhouse kitchen designed by House of Jade. 

Photo: Courtesy of House of Jade. 

What is modern farmhouse style?

Modern farmhouse style, as the name suggests, brings more contemporary elements into the aesthetic. “The term modern farmhouse emerged when the farmhouse style first became popular among the masses,” Krason says. “Over the years we have seen this style evolve into differing variations such as a traditional farmhouse, coastal farmhouse, french farmhouse, or modern farmhouse.” Modern farmhouses tend to feel more early American, featuring less intricate finish work and decor. Often, homes with modern farmhouse interiors will make use of clean lines, a more neutral color scheme, and modern finishes. “Modern farmhouses lean a bit more into a Scandinavian form,” Shea adds. 

History of farmhouse style homes

True to the name, the farmhouse design style has its roots in actual farmhouses or shelters that were built specifically for farmers. Though homes on farmlands have existed for as long as farmers have, many attribute the traditional farmhouses in Europe from the 16th and 17th centuries as the inspiration for this specific aesthetic. “Over the years the simple farmhouse has evolved into a distinct design style,” Krason says.