4 Must Have Elements for Farmhouse Design

Farmhouse design style is next up in the design style series here on the blog.  We all know how popular farmhouse design has become since the premiere of Fixer Upper with Chip and Joanna Gaines, but why is it so popular?

There is much more to farmhouse design than just Joanna Gaines and it wouldn’t have become so popular if there wasn’t something extremely pleasing about the look.  Farmhouse style is all about a simple lifestyle, so let’s talk about the elements of farmhouse design.

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Farmhouse design is currently the most popular design style. The 4 must have elements to have a farmhouse style home.

 Neutrals in Farmhouse Design

Neutral. Neutral. Neutral and more neutral.  That doesn’t have to be as boring as it sounds because farmhouse design is anything but boring.   Bright white, light grays, light green/gray, even a pale buttery yellow could be considered neutral.  When combined with natural wood elements a wonderful contrast happens that is distinctly farmhouse.

Neutrals in farmhouse design are used for wall color, furniture, upholstery, and accessories.  I know that sounds like everything, but small pops of color in muted shades and texture added to the space  will add visual interest.

A neutral wall color helps brighten everything up.  It’s light and airy and makes a wonderful foundation for adding texture to the space.  It is also so much easier to change accessories around if your foundation is neutral, so for that I give farmhouse style an A+.

I see lots of white couches and chairs in farmhouse style spaces.  You may think there is just no way you could ever have a white couch, but the trick is to use white slipcovers.  When they get dirty you just take them off and throw them in the washing machine with some bleach and they are as good as new.  Simple and functional is the name of the game.

Accessories bring color and texture to the space.  Color should be limited to muted colors for a true farmhouse feel.  Texture is the way an item feels, but it also creates light and shadow and interest when you look at it.  Accessories with texture add dimension to an otherwise bland space.

Repurposed and Distressed in Farmhouse Design

Repurposing is another key element of farmhouse design.  Using old items for another purpose is what repurposing is all about.  Making a coffee table from an old shutter, a picture frame from an old window, or making an old farmhouse table into an island has repurpose written all over it.  The older and more worn the better.  Intentionally making use of old items for a new purpose keeps them out of the landfill and gives the space farmhouse character.

Farmhouse style embraces the old and the well worn.  Distressed paint finishes are a perfect way to add a touch of farmhouse to a space.  A piece of furniture in all of it’s old worn glory says loved and well used.  This look can be achieved on a piece that is painted by using sand paper to gently sand the edges to reveal what is underneath.

Rough, unfinished wood and rusty or galvanized metals speak to farmhouse style.  The older and rougher the better.  An old unfinished farmhouse dining table, reclaimed wood floors, or rustic metal baskets bring farmhouse design to life.  These elements of the design add warmth and character making the space feel cozy and lived in.

Farmhouse design is currently the most popular design style. The 4 must have elements to have a farmhouse style home. Rustic metal baskets and vintage glass jars add texture to a farmhouse style space.

Architectural salvage will add tons of character to a space.  Old barn doors, corbels, old windows, shiplap, anything that was once used as building material is perfect for farmhouse design.  Use an old barn door for the pantry, old windows as cabinet doors, or corbels as the base for open shelving in the kitchen.  Use shiplap on any wall to make a design statement.  I used it in our $100 Master Bathroom Makeover and it is a show stopper.  Once again, old and loved items add character to a space.

Shiplap added to the master bathroom add instant texture, a focal point and rustic farmhouse design style

Natural Elements in Farmhouse Design

Natural elements are an integral part of farmhouse design.  Bringing the outdoors in is the objective and natural elements help to add texture and interest to the space.

An old birch stump as an end table, deer antlers as part of a vignette on the coffee table, wildflowers and branches from the yard, or an indoor herb garden all speak to farmhouse style and add warmth and interest to the space.

My friend Sarah from 1915 House has a great tutorial to DIY a Birch Stump Side Table and that side table is amazing!

Bring the outdoors in and add rustic farmhouse design style charm by using a birch stump as a side table.
photo: 1915 House

Lots of natural light makes farmhouse style look and feel fresh and clean.  Bright, airy spaces invoke the farmhouse vibe.  Getting this look can be as simple as not using window treatments or placing mirrors in strategic places to reflect the light around.  Get as much natural light into the space as possible.

Cozy and Inviting for Farmhouse Design

Above all else, farmhouse design is cozy and inviting.  It should make you want to curl up on the couch with a soft throw and drink a cup of cocoa with your family.

Farmhouse design is all about light fabrics and texture to add character to the space.

Group your furniture in such a way that inspires conversation, make your bed comfy with plenty of pillows and a down comforter.  Add farmhouse charm by making over your head board like I did mine using drop cloth fabric.  Fill your space with fresh wildflowers to compliment your farmhouse style.

My friend Lisa from The Purple Hydrangea is a huge advocate for the budget friendly use of drop cloth fabric in home decor.  We may be a bit obsessed with this fabric, but shhh…..don’t tell.  This cute drop cloth pillow ticks off all the farmhouse boxes…neutral, texture, character.

Drop cloth fabric ticks all the farmhouse design style boxes, texture, neutral, character.
Photo: The Purple Hydrangea

Fill your farmhouse with items that you love and that tell a story.  Grandma’s old sewing machine, dad’s wooden carpenter’s box, a quilt you made with your mom.  These things bring charm and make it cozy and inviting.

If you are a lover of open, light filled, white interiors.  Reclaimed floors and galvanized metal, distressed and worn woods and lots of texture, then Farmhouse design just might be your jam.

What is favorite thing about farmhouse design?  Are Chip and Joanna Gaines your heroes?  I would love to hear in the comments below!

Not sure what your design style is?  Take my Design Style Quiz and be on your way to having a home you love.

Until next time…

Happy Decorating  XOXO


PS.  Would you like to know how to do a room makeover on a $100 budget?  I can help!  Get my FREE ebook HERE and get going on the budget friendly makeover.






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  1. Your farmhouse elements are spot on! Thank you for using the word advocate instead of drop cloth obsessed. LOL

    Have a great day friend!

    1. lol!! that inspires me to change the wording and add to it a little bit, but I am equally obsessed!

  2. The neatest thing about farmhouse style, to me, is that we’ve brought back some things that have been loved for a long time. Those shiplap walls aren’t new…they they were always there. The open shelves that we love now were done out of necessity in the past. I love that we are bringing back treasures from family members and reusing things. Styles come and go but things we love can hang around.

    1. Stacey, you are exactly right! That is what I love about design, you can make it be exactly how you want it to be 🙂

  3. I absolutely love that distressed wooden island against the stainless steel appliances. So gorgeous!

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