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      I’ve watched this trend catch fire and spread wildly, much like a controlled field burn. And before realizing that I was a willing participant, I indulged happily in several of the required elements of modern farmhouse design. It wasn’t hard to do, actually, it’s kind of hard not to. The free and casual quality this trend embodies makes it easy- easy as pie. Which most likely explains why I love it so.

     These are some of the key architectural and design components found in a farmhouse: – a gable or standing seam metal roof (or both), – a porch, -a mudroom, – exposed beams, – hardwood floors, -ship lap, – claw foot tubs, – an apron front farmers’ sink or a drain board sink, – fireplaces and wood stoves, and lots of windows.   

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     The above mentioned things are all fairly permanent, and your home either has some of them or does not. Thankfully, if this style appeals to you, the feeling can also be achieved through the use of appropriate furniture, accessories, and textiles. The furniture is generally clean lined and functional, with an occasional ornate or traditional piece thrown in- like a wooden four-poster or filigreed iron bed. The fabrics are simple and unfussy, as in ticking, woolen plaids, cotton quilts, and burlap.  Finishes and materials are usually natural stone and wood, with an emphasis on craftsmanship.

     The prolific nature of this trend, and its ability to endure are rooted in the variety of looks that it encompasses. There are very spare spaces with wood finishes rubbed raw, mixed with sumptuous fabrics- think Scandinavian. There are hard edged modern lines mixed with the warmth of wood floors and wrought iron chandeliers- mid-century modern. There are ceilings with reclaimed wooden beams hanging above smooth cement floors. And floors with reclaimed wooden boards, sitting below lofted white glossy ceilings. The whole trend is an alchemy of antonyms, or at least a harmony of strange and unexpected partners. It is very eclectic- which is what makes it so relaxed and potentially interesting.  

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Two kitchens

     Notice the exposed lightbulbs and ship lap wall in the left-hand photo. The bulbs refer to function- farmers needed things that worked well and hard, without much thought to form. These things often have a beauty we now appreciate; light aqua glass mason jars, barn lights, enamel pitchers. In the photo on the right, that gorgeous stone wall, the cherry cabinets, and clean unadorned style are all referential to farmhouse design.

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     In the living room, colors are often soothing and neutral, any poppy hues usually inspired by nature: moss, dried wheat, clay and sky. Sofas range from those with down cushions slip-covered in linens, to retro sectionals with chrome legs, to leather Chesterfields let loose from English libraries. Window coverings are minimal, accessories are few and pointed. 

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This is not the same country in which every surface is strewn with collectibles. Another  of the changes to the traditional farmhouse vernacular has been an opening of the rooms into much airier interiors, with increased light and flow. No more dark and tiny spaces cut-off from each other. Artwork plays a major role- it can be contemporary and abstract, or representational. If you don’t have a view of gorgeous rolling pastureland, you can hang one on your wall. It’s popular to have paintings of cows or photographs of silos, but I balk at anything themey.  

     FE042DD7-396D-46A3-8710-7BC3A5F912BASome quintessential items:

barn lights, milking stool, milk jug, back door

and a big comfortable bed for dreaming of the city…

…or whatever it is you dream of.

    I think we are all dreaming of something a little simpler, a bit slower. Yet a farmer will tell you his life is anything but slow. We romanticize ways of living.We strip them down to what we see as the best parts, and often turn them into something shiny and new. In this case, we took care to leave some worn and weathered details. Maybe, this style reminds us that life is not perfect, beautifully not perfect.