When it comes to interior design preferences, most people are either drawn to traditional spaces or a more modern aesthetic. But on the lengthy spectrum between these two broad categories of design, there’s a full array of distinct styles just waiting to be discovered.
Every now and again, a fresh new interior style comes along that combines traditional and modern elements so flawlessly it creates a completely original décor that nobody saw coming — but everybody wants. Today, that style is modern farmhouse.
We recently kicked off a new blog series on interior décor concepts by exploring ultra-modern, ever-cozy Scandinavian design. For our second installment, we’re ready to dive into the mood of the moment: modern farmhouse. Here’s what you need to know about this popular style.
Modern Farmhouse Interior Design 101
Both sides of this cohesive style are informed by the same design philosophy: form follows function. Where the “modern” side values clean lines and simple, uncluttered spaces, the “farmhouse” side values pretty practicality with a touch of old-fashioned appeal.
Modern farmhouse partly arose as a natural response to the minimalist design trend that was so popular in the 1990s and early 2000s — after a decade of mainstream minimalism, many homeowners were ready to embrace tradition and surround themselves with comfort once again.
But people didn’t want to return to tradition and comfort in the same exact way as before; instead, they wanted “traditional” to feel new, modern, and reflective of today’s cleaner design sensibilities.
Modern farmhouse is, in many ways, the American or English version of Scandinavian design. But where “Scandi” style uses Nordic elements to add layers of warmth, coziness, and character to an otherwise modern backdrop, modern farmhouse design uses well-curated traditional country elements to accomplish the same goal — but with a decidedly laid-back feel.
Elements of Modern Farmhouse Design
If you like spaces that exude practicality, comfort, simplicity, and elegance in equal measure, then you’d probably feel right at home in a modern farmhouse interior. Use these design strategies to achieve this current — yet instantly timeless — look in any space:
1. Start with a neutral canvas
Like Scandinavian design, modern farmhouse décor relies on a neutral backdrop consisting of muted, natural hues that feel low-key, soothing, and cohesive. Whether they’re warm or cool, soft white, cream, beige, grey, “greige,” and sage are just a few neutral colors that can effectively set the stage for statement-making furnishings and decorative pieces.
2. Feature natural wood elements
Every modern farmhouse interior includes layers of natural wood tones, usually in the form of reclaimed wood elements, barnboard details, wide-plank wood floors, architectural salvage, and stunning vintage pine pieces. Reclaimed wood is central to modern farmhouse design, as it adds dimension, down-to-earth elegance, and authenticity that’s easy to live with.
3. Incorporate rustic finishes
Rustic finishes are a signature element of modern farmhouse décor. From the well-worn allure of reclaimed wood floors and salvaged architectural pieces to the statement-making mood of exposed beams and brickwork, weathered or brushed metal fixtures, and lightly distressed surfaces, modern farmhouse style places rough and rustic finishes front and center.
4. Layer in a variety of textures
From wood, metal, stone, and glass to cotton, canvas, wool, velvet, leather, sisal, rattan, and much more, modern farmhouse design embraces a wide range of natural materials and textures. By adding layers of visual interest, these complementary textural elements give much-needed dimension to what might be an otherwise flat neutral space.
5. Choose comfortable furnishings
Modern farmhouse design is as traditional (but not fussy), as it is contemporary (but not impersonal). In short, it’s soothing, clean, and welcoming in a way that makes you want to sit back, put up your feet, and stay awhile.
To that end, comfortable seating is a must in any modern farmhouse space — think oversized chairs and sofas you can sink into, or if you have a big family and plenty of room, a large sectional that gives everyone a place to sit.
6. Accentuate (sparingly) with color
Like Scandinavian design, modern farmhouse interiors are perfectly suited to the occasional pop of bold color. But where Scandi style readily embraces an ultra-bright side chair, a colorful throw rug, and cheerful dishware, modern farmhouse style seeks balance with muted pops of color and contrasting black accents that add a bit of understated drama to an otherwise calm, neutral space.
7. Keep it clean and clutter-free
Modern farmhouse is more than just a neutral home style — it’s a clean, airy, and clutter-free aesthetic that, at it’s best, features an open layout with vaulted ceilings and bright, minimally dressed windows. Decorative accessories and vintage adornments are few, well-chosen and quite often, full of meaning or personal connection.