My November Intentions — Be Thankful of the Little Things and Enjoy and Appreciate Life

November Intentions

November intentions from Thuraya Elizabeth on Instagram.

I have kept a journal on and off since I was in seventh grade. Back then I wrote about silly things, like if the new boy in art class liked me or whether I was going to be able to stay up all night at an upcoming sleepover. When I moved into high school, I wrote longer entries, often several pages per day. Some of those entries were still about boys, but others were about growing up and what was happening in the world. In college I could easily fill a whole journal in three months. When I got married and had kids, my journals were all about my family. However, I noticed as I grew older, the entries grew farther apart. It wasn’t that I didn’t have as much to reflect on; it was just that life seemed to get continually busier, and journaling took a back seat. When the idea of bullet journaling came about, it appealed to me. I could quickly jot down my thoughts to at least create a pinpoint in time. But I missed the deep inner reflections. Now, I am getting into monthly intentions. I don’t do it every month, but when I do, I really enjoy it. With November starting, bringing us into a season of thankfulness, family and giving, I thought this would be a perfect month to focus on monthly intentions.

November Intentions

Intentions from Let’s Live and Learn.

If you aren’t familiar with monthly intentions, do a quick search online. You’ll see all the creative ways people put together intention sheets or boards. They are often hand-written or drawn, or perhaps hodge-podged together in scrapbook format. They can be colorful, whimsical, elegant, or straightforward, but overall, they should reflect your personality. And then you simply write down all your intentions for the month. What are the intentions? Things you want to focus on, or do better at, or simply be aware of. Maybe these are steps you want to take to move you in a certain direction. Maybe they are just quiet reflections. Your intentions could even be just something you want to try or do more of. Setting intentions—and writing them down—helps to manifest them. If you don’t know where to start, follow these simple tips:

  1. Reflect on your life and what you’d like to see happen. How do you want to feel?
  2. Turn those reflections into words, phrases or actions.
  3. Write them creatively on your board, giving them emphasis.
  4. Post your intentions board in a prominent spot and review it often.
November Intentions

My November intentions, highlighting what I want to focus on this month.

For November, the overall theme of my intentions is to recognize and be thankful for the little things in life. I get too busy caught up in the everydayness of life. At times I focus too much on what the world expects of me. I don’t take enough time to smell the roses. For my November intentions board, I started by focusing on a few simple, but powerful words that get to the heart of what I want: Simplify, Appreciate, Let It Be, Enjoy, Breathe. I then spent some time individually thinking about what each of those words mean and how I can manifest them. Simplify: Don’t overschedule, allow free time. Appreciate: find joy in the wonder of nature, a child’s laugh, the wagging tail of a dog; talk with my friends and family more. Let It Be: understand that I can’t control everything—and that’s okay. Enjoy: do the fun things, linger over a decadent cup of hot cocoa, take a spin on a scooter, or as one of my favorite quotes says, “buy the ticket, take the ride.” And Breathe: take deep breaths, sit with yourself, let it out.

Your intentions, of course, will be different as they are your intentions. Maybe this November you’d like to try making an apple pie completely from scratch, or maybe you just want to relax around a campfire more often. Perhaps you want to start learning a new language or take up yoga. Maybe you want to host a Thanksgiving dinner all by yourself. Or maybe you just want something simple, like to start each morning with a quiet cup of tea. Monthly intentions don’t have to be elaborate, but they should be items meaningful to you. They should be something you want to do for yourself. So for the month of November, what would your intentions be?


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Make Your Own Farmhouse Style Fall Decor with Tommy Art DIY Paint System

This post sponsored by Tommy Art DIY Paint System

Rene’s sunflower sign is just one of the several fabulous fall DIYs she demonstrated in her Facebook Live video.

Don’t you just love crafting your own home decor? One of the best things about DIY is that you can create items that perfectly reflect your personality. Don’t want to hang up the same pumpkin spice signs that everyone on your block has? DIY your own! With the many great products available on the market today, it’s easy to create one-of-a-kind decor that will make you proud of your skills, and perhaps make your friends a little jealous. 🙂

Country Sampler stylist Rene Haines partnered with Tommy Art to create some inspired fall projects on the Farmhouse Style Facebook page (click here to watch her Facebook Live video: Using Tommy Art’s 3D Dust Crackle mixed with some Tommy Art paint and a stencil Rene made a darling dimensional sunflower sign that just brightens up fall days. The 3D Dust Crackle gives paint the consistency of a paste, which as Rene notes, makes it easier to work with the stencil (no bleeding paint underneath!). As a finishing touch, Rene sponge-painted the edge of her yellow sunflower on the wood sign with Metallic Copper paint. Oh, that little bit of shimmer just makes your sign shine! And as we’re seeing in the home decor world right now, copper is hot. So definitely add some copper touches to your home this fall. Rene’s sign included wording, which she added to her sign easily using a simple transfer technique and Tommy Art’s Transfer Gel. There are various ways you can do transfers (and many different materials you can transfer on). Tommy Art’s Transfer Gel makes it easy. Watch Rene to see how easy it is, and you’ll be wanting to transfer all sorts of designs around your home.

Want something even simpler than making a fall sign? How about just embellishing inexpensive plastic pumpkins? Upcycling dollar-store finds is a quick and inexpensive way to get your own fabulous decor without overspending your budget. And your friends won’t believe you did it yourself! In the video, Rene shows how cheap plastic pumpkins can look like designer decor when just touched up with some dabs of dark paint and copper accents. Simple, but sensational!

Isn’t this copper-rimmed chalkboard sign perfect for fall? See how Rene created it in her video.

A final easy-to-craft project is a fall chalkboard Rene made from an old metal tray she had around. With a coat of copper paint around the edges and chalkboard paint in the center, this past-its-prime tray easily became a fun chalkboard accent.

It’s easy to fashion your own fall decor, as Rene showed us. And with Tommy Art’s DIY Paint System, your creativity will know no bounds. Try your hand at a fall stenciled sign, painted inexpensive pumpkins or upcycle a tray. We’d love to see your own creations!


Here’s a look at the Tommy Art products Rene used:


Tommy Art 3D Paint System Products:

Transfer gel:

3D Dust Crackle:

Rock paste:

Neutral wax:


Tommy Art 3D Paint System Mineral Paint

Pure orange:


Brown black:



Metallic Copper:


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Enjoying Extended Family—Reunions, Get-together and Good Old-Fashioned Sunday Dinners

I grew up in an Italian-American family. My grandmother was a true Sunday-gravy-on-the-stove, family-means-everything Italian grandma. For most of my early childhood, we lived in an apartment built above Nani and Papa’s garage in a Chicago suburb. And although we were constantly around our grandparents, we would still love getting together for big family celebrations with not only Nani and Papa, but also aunts, uncles, cousins, godparents and nearly anyone who was deemed “family.” We never held family reunions as most people think of them, or like the large annual get-togethers southern families enjoy, but every holiday, every wedding, every funeral, every religious event was a reason to get together as an extended family.

Family grilling

Family reunions include fun, family and food! (Halfpoint /

In other parts of the country, people were enjoying the same tight-knit family camaraderie. Midwestern farm families had large Sunday dinners where everyone put work aside for the day and relaxed. Southern families would plan extended family reunions every summer where kids delighted in seeing their second cousins or fun uncles. But at some point it seemed these family get-togethers and reunions started falling out of favor. Families became farther apart geographically as sons and daughters moved away to strike their own path. Couples became busier, children’s schedules were packed with traveling sports and lessons, and generations seemed to focus more on their immediate family.

But lucky for us who enjoy being with their large families or getting together with extended relatives, the genealogy trend hit. Now people wanted to connect with their families again, to hear the stories from Great Uncle Alfred or to learn to cook recipes from Grandma Millie. And as a result, family reunions are back on the rise.

Family Reunion Cookbook images

Diana Petrillo of Adirondack Girl at Heart designed free templates to create your own family cookbook for Farmhouse Style readers. Download them here or with the link at the left.

Our Summer 2020 issue of Farmhouse Style has a great article on hosting your own family reunion with tips on how to go about it, plus a list of websites that can help you plan. Today’s reunions can be designed any number of ways—as special weeklong cruises or vacations, or as simple Sunday picnics at the family homestead. The events usually include large dinners, conversation time, family-history telling, and even fun reunion accouterments, like special T-shirts, glasses or such. Another fun way to share memories is to create a cookbook filled with family favorites. One of our designers, Diana Petrillo of Adirondack Girl at Heart, created a download to make your own recipe book, complete with personalized cover, recipe pages, food labels and more. Have family members send in recipes ahead of time and compile them in the cookbook to hand out at your event. Click here to download the cookbook template and instructions:

Family Reunion Cookbook Download

Whatever you do to get your family together can go a long way toward keeping that bond. And while we certainly wouldn’t condone hosting a large family event now during the Coronavirus outbreak, you could certainly start making plans to have a family reunion later this summer or in the fall. After this all passes, people will want to reconnect with all their loved ones, and a family reunion, large Sunday dinner or casual get-together will be just the balm we’ll all need.

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Creating a Summer Oasis in Your Backyard

A few weeks ago was National Hammock Day (July 22). One of my all-time favorite aspects of summer is relaxing in a hammock and listening to the sounds around me. As long as I can remember, we’ve had a hammock in our house. Years ago, when we had a traditional rope one as kids, we used to play a game where we’d try to flip the hammock over completely while one of us tried to stay clinging to it for a full circle. Nowadays I’m much more reserved in my hammock sitting. I like to sit out there with a chilled glass of iced tea and just enjoy the summer day. I put up a couple new bird feeders this year, so when I relax in the hammock, I can hear the birds twittering near by.

Bead suncatcher

The beaded suncatcher I made from a small cut branch and strung beads.

I bought the bird feeders, but I did DIY myself a small bird bath to hang near the feeders. I went to the local dollar store and bought a wire hanging basket frame and a cheap plastic serving bowl. I took out the coir insert of the basket and replaced it with the plastic bowl. Then I simply put a few rocks in the center, filled it with water and hung it near the bird feeders. Simple, quick and inexpensive. The kind of projects I like. I also decided to add a little glam to my garden and made a simple suncatcher with a small branch and beads. It took less than 20 minutes let adds a nice touch to the yard that I can enjoy when I’m outside.

Mailboxes as planters

These mailboxes make great planters!

Our Farmhouse Style Summer issue is out now and includes creative ways to pretty up your porch. One of those ideas is to take old rural mailboxes and set them on end to fill with flowers. I love this idea because I love thinking outside the box to find different containers to hold flowers. In our Gardens issue, our stylist created a planter that used river rocks and a wire basket. The beauty of nature shines through in this piece! Some other great ideas I’ve seen for creative plower planters include hanging metal colanders, rain boots, picture frames, painted tires, old stumps, purses, birdcages and more. I’ve always been thrilled by walking around a garden and finding unexpected delights throughout. I made a dragonfly stake from flexible copper tubing and beads and every time I see it among the plants, I smile to myself. Not only is it something whimsical and sweet, but it is also something I made myself, which makes it extra special. Another thing I absolutely love about it is that as it ages, the copper takes on a wonderful verdigris patina. So it’s something new to look at all the time!

Flowers in Rock Basket

I love this idea from our Gardens issue!

That’s what a garden, a backyard, a porch, or other special place is supposed to do for you—allow you to relax and smile. It’s a place to kick back in a hammock and enjoy a warm breeze, or to wander down a garden path and pick a few flowers for an impromptu bouquet. And for me, that’s a lot of what summer is about—enjoying those special quiet moments. What is your favorite spot to enjoy the warm summer days?

copper dragonfly stake

This dragonfly DIY came out so cute!

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Digging in the Dirt — Gardening Memories to Cherish

“In spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.” —Margaret Atwood.

Did you have a vegetable garden when you were younger? Or do you remember going to your grandparents’ farm for the summer and helping pick luscious berries or tomatoes? I grew up in suburban Chicago, so we didn’t have acres of open land, but we always had a garden. Even when we lived closer to the city by my grandparents, I always remember food growing. My Nani (the true Italian grandmother she was) would always grow several tomato plants. When those fruits were red, ripe and ready to burst, we’d pick them and either put up glistening jars of tomato sauce, or else Nani would spread the crushed tomato sauce across large wooden trays covered in cheesecloth, which Papa would then carry outside to set in the sun for several days. That sun-kissed sauce would become homemade ketchup.

fresh grown strawberries in hand

Sweet strawberries ready for the picking. (Photo from Jessica Moorman)

When we moved to a bigger home farther west, my Dad tilled up two large plots in our backyard. We grew tomatoes, of course, but also peppers, green beans, zucchini, carrots, lettuce, cucumbers and more. The tomatoes we picked and canned in the fall. The cucumbers we turned into dill pickles or sweet bread-and-butter pickles. We had a rhubarb plant, which started my lifelong love of rhubarb dishes, and several raspberry bushes (including one that grew golden raspberries which were super sweet). I would often go out and pick a handful of raspberries to just eat for breakfast. A few years later my Dad built an arbor and planted grapevines all along it. For several years we made our own wine. I remember feeling so much excitement when the Burpee seed catalog would come in the mail. We’d browse through the pages choosing which seeds to plant. My dad had built a cold frame so we could start the seeds early and then transplant them when it warmed up.

When we got older and the garden diminished, we still managed to can and put up jars of tomato sauce. Now we just went to a local farm to pick bushels of tomatoes rather than growing them ourselves. I remember all of us walking down the rows of tomato plants trying to avoid the large tomato spiders. Those things were huge! And of course we were splotched with tomato juice and seeds (there might have been a few tomato fights among us kids, but shhh don’t tell my Dad).

mulberries in hand

Mulberries usually made it into my mouth before ever getting into the bucket. Such sweetness! (Photo from Susan Wagner)

Vegetable gardening certainly gave us dirt under our fingernails and mud on our feet, but picking one delicious fruit most certainly meant purple-stained fingers—mulberries! We didn’t have a mulberry tree in our yard, but there was one nearby. We loved to climb the tree, eat the berries and have mulberry fights. I learned to identify a mulberry tree anywhere by the telltale purple stains on the ground underneath. Every once in awhile we attempted to collect enough mulberries to cook a pie or cobbler, but you had to collect an awful lot! And most of the time half of the berries went into our mouth before they even made it into the bucket.

Backyard gardening is again on the rise. People want to grow and cook their own fruits and vegetables, and there’s a trend toward home canning as well. Knowing exactly what is in your food is a strong incentive, but I think part of the upward trend in growing your own fruits and vegetables is the family memories you are building. Our designer Nancy Borsodi remembers her dad always having a garden in which he grew green beans, zucchini, carrots, beets and potatoes. When I asked about her memories of the garden, she laughed and said what she really remembers is her dad walking through the rows with his pants’ legs rolled up, a white T-shirt on and suspenders. “I remember him telling me how to place the seeds, every few inches,” she says. “I always wanted to put in more seeds than you should. You’re supposed to only put in two or three and I always wanted to pour a bunch in!”

End of summer produce

A bin full of late summer harvest. (Photo from Jessica Moorman)

Our Copy Editor Jessica Moorman moved to North Carolina a few years ago where she now has just under four acres of land where she grows everything from winter cabbage to tomatoes, eggplants, collard greens, tomatoes and more. She’s been planting heirloom seeds as well including especially satisfying Cherokee Trail of Tears black beans. She also has multitudes of flowers, and last fall also planted a grape vine and blueberry and blackberry bushes. There’s such a growing following for planting heirloom seeds, with each seed having its own story behind it.

black beans in bowl

“Always gratifying to see shiny black beans inside these ugly pods,” notes Jessica. The beans are a heirloom variety called Cherokee Trail of Tears beans. (Photo from Jessica Moorman)

This year for Mother’s Day, Swansons Nursery in Seattle posted Memories of Gardening with Mom on their blog. Such wonderful memories, including this one from Aimée: “I remember playing in my grandma’s worm bed whenever I visited her in Seattle and watching her add coffee grounds and vegetable scraps to soil that was so rich, it looked almost black. She grew the best vegetables and flowers in that soil, and all the neighbors would come by to chat and eat snap peas from her vines in the summer. It was my first experience with vegetable gardening and I was hooked.”

grandma and young girl in garden

Aimée with her grandma Marge. (Photo from Swansons Nursery)

Gardening is good for the soul. It nourishes your body, builds family memories and gets you out enjoying Mother Nature. It’s something we all should experience at one point in our lives. What are some of your favorite memories of gardening, either with your own family or with your mom, dad or grandparents?


P.S. If you love gardening, be sure to check out our new special issue, Country Sampler Gardens. It’s filled with beautiful backyard gardens, ideas for creative pathways and water features and DIY garden decorations. Order a copy here. Also, don’t miss out on our next issue of Country Sampler Farmhouse Style. The summer issue is on newsstands now, or get your copy here.

Gardening Makes the Heart Bloom with pink flower urn


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Reviving an Old Tradition—May Day Baskets

girl hanging basket on door

May Day baskets were hung secretly on friends’ or family’s doors to cheer up their day. Photograph from Three Scoops of Love.

In just a few more days April will come to a close and we’ll begin one of my favorite months—May. I’ve always loved May because both Mother’s Day and my birthday fall in this month. I also love May because it is such a quintessential representation of spring. Tulips begin blooming, birds start twittering away in the morning, the days get longer, and the sun warms up the afternoons. Now this year, I have discovered another reason to love May—May Day Baskets!

You’ve likely heard the phrase “May Day” when referring to May 1, and maybe even heard it connected with baskets in some way, but did you ever know the history of this quaint tradition? At one point, from the late 1800s until the mid 1900s, the tradition of May Basket Day was a popular way to welcome in spring. People would gather flowers, candies or goodies and put them in little baskets to hang secretly on a neighbor’s or loved one’s door. Suitors might place a little basket on the doorstep of a young girl they wanted to court. It was a sweet way of showing someone you were thinking of them and wanted to brighten their day. Perhaps you remember May Day baskets when you were younger, or your mother had memories of making them when she was a child.

Eventually the May Day baskets tradition faded away, but today, with more people choosing to decorate their front doors beyond the traditional wreaths, we’re seeing cones of flowers and stem-filled baskets acting as door decorations becoming popular. And that has generated some interest again in May Day baskets.

three paper cones with flowers

My three decorated scrapbook cones ready to sneak onto my neighbors’ doors. Photograph from Country Sampler Farmhouse Style / Annie’s Creative Studio.

I recently created several simple May Day baskets by rolling scrapbook paper into cones and decorating them with doilies, embellishments and ribbon. I loved how sweet and adorable they came out, and I plan on making several more to slip a touch of spring on all my family’s and friends’ doors on May 1.

The tradition of the May Day basket made me wonder about other ways to create these little surprises. The amazingly creative world of DIY bloggers proved that ideas are endless. As you can see, you could make May Day “baskets” from glass jars, paper bags, tin cans, berry baskets and more! The essential elements seem to be keeping it simple, brightening it up for spring with ribbons, bows, scrapbook papers or other embellishments, adding a hanger and tag, and of course, filling it with flowers. Check out some of these May Day basket ideas from various bloggers to create some yourself, and let’s bring this delightful old tradition back to life!


P.S. If you want to learn more about the May Basket Day tradition, check out this post from NPR.

cone with flowers hanging from door

A ribbon threaded through this cone makes it easy to hang. Photograph from Lillyella.

cone with tulips

Be sure to add a decorative tag to your May Day basket. Photograph from Lia Griffith.


glass jar of flowers hanging on door

Glass jars with wire tied around the neck can hold fresh flowers as May Day baskets. Photograph from The Neat Nook.

peat pot hanging from door knob

Small peat pots are sweet ways to share potted flowers. Photograph from The Neat Nook.

paper bag with flowers hanging on door

Small paper bags are an easy way for children to make May Day baskets. Photograph from Dukes and Duchesses.

tin can with flowers

An inexpensive way to create simple May Day baskets is with small tin cans. Holes are punched on the sides for the ribbon. Photograph from Chasing Fireflies.

berry basket filled with flowers

Little berry baskets make sweet May Day baskets. Photograph from A Pretty Cool Life.

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Farmhouse Floral Arrangements—How Creative Can You Get?

Ah… springtime. When birds start twittering outside my window again, robins start plucking fat worms from the ground, buds start sprouting from the trees and my tulips begin pushing their way up through the dirt. One of the things I love about spring is all the fresh flowers. Wait, who am I kidding? I love fresh flowers all year round! But there’s something about bright colorful bulbs nodding toward the sunlight, or bunches of wildflowers spilling out of a vase, or a handful of sweet-scented lilacs cut right from the bush that make me truly think of spring.

I have a variety of vases in the house, but this year I wanted to try something a little different. So I’ve been gathering ideas from our past issues as well as some of my favorite farmhouse-style bloggers. And it’s made me realize two things. First, farmhouse lovers are so creative when it comes to arranging flowers in beautiful simple ways. And two, almost anything can hold a floral arrangement! In fact, the more interesting the container, usually the more striking the display. With the use of floral foam, plastic inserts, water tubes, and homemade florist frogs, you can turn almost anything into a flower holder.

flowers in hat

A cheery display from one of our past issues.

One of my favorite ideas, which I’m going to try out with the purple lilacs from my backyard, came from the cover of one of our Summer Decorating issues a few years ago. Our designer simply took a summer bonnet, inserted a plastic liner stuffed with floral foam and stuck stems of colorful blooms into the foam. She tied a bow around the hat and placed it on an old wooden chair. The effect is so cheery and spring feeling!

I love placing bouquets or floral arrangement in unexpected places. The Rustic Pelican, an interior design firm in Florida, had this gorgeous idea on its Instagram feed: 

flowers in hanging tote bag

Hang a flower-filled tote bag from a hook for instant farmhouse-style charm in an entryway. Photo from The Rustic Pelican.

several stems of grasses and tiny purple flowers in a straw tote hanging from a hook. What a great idea for a front entryway!

Another idea I really want to try is using something old or a piece intended for a different purpose in an unexpected way. Our designer Nancy Borsodi has created several floral arrangements through the years. Two of my favorites are some of the simplest in design: a collection of small milk bottles lined up in a metal chicken feeder tray and old bed springs coiled around test tubes. Both arrangements use just a few stems in each container, but the overall look is simply charming.

In one of the homes we featured in a past issue, the homeowner, Amy Chipman, filled an old metal Coca-Cola chest with white daisies, which made a large wonderful display on the center of the table. Elsewhere in Amy’s home, a small potted plant got tucked into an old metal mailbox. What cute ideas!

daisies in Coca Cola cooler

A vintage Coca-Cola cooler becomes a striking centerpiece. Photo by; from Country Sampler Spring Decorating.

At Rustique Charm by Leese, this Etsy shop owner features a wooden sugar mold that serves as a planter for lavender (granted faux lavender, but you could do something similar with real plants). And at My Crafty Spot, sunny yellow tulips planted right into a vintage wooden tool caddy look oh so springy! I even found two ways to incorporate ladders into floral arrangements. Lauren DeNoble redid a corner of her living room, hanging small metal planter boxes from the rungs of a ladder propped against the wall. And at Cotton Stem, a ladder hung from the ceiling creates an almost chandelier effect with blooms hanging upside down from the structure. Wow!

burlap wrapped mason jar with babys breath

Strips of burlap add instant farmhouse-style charm to a mason jar. Photo from Weddingomania.

Now hanging a ladder from the ceiling goes a bit beyond just an easy floral arrangement, but there are still things you can do to liven up simple pieces. At Golden Boys & Me, Courtney strung small glass bottles between her window and inserted single blooming stems in each bottle for a living garland. Another beautiful-in-no-time idea is to simply wrap strips of burlap or lace around mason jars for instant romantic rustic vases, like those shown at the wedding site, Weddingomania.

So as you can see, there are almost endless ideas available for creative and unique farmhouse-style floral arrangements. Give yourself a springtime boost this week and purchase a pick-me-up bouquet (or cut one yourself if you’re lucky enough to have flowers blooming already), and find a unique container to give it style. And if you do create such a display, share it in the Comments below. We’d love to hear about everyone’s creative ideas!



flowers in bottles strung with string

Simple vases strung across a window make a living garland. Photo from Golden Boys & Me.

potted fern in mailbox

A mailbox becomes a hidden spot for a potted fern. Photo by from Country Sampler Spring Decorating.

lavender in old sugar mold

Faux lavender looks lovely in this wooden sugar mold from Rustique Charm by Leese.

flower stems hanging from ladder

This ladder display is truly unique! Photo from Cotton Stem.

yellow tulips in wooden tool caddy

Rather than just using a wooden tool box as a display piece, turn it into an actual planter. Photo from My Crafty Spot.

flowers in bottles

Milk bottles lined up in a galvanized chicken feeder tray makes an adorable farmhouse-style floral arrangement. Photo from Country Sampler Spring Decorating.

flowers in metal baskets on ladder

Flower-filled metal baskets are perfect to hang on the rungs of a ladder propped against the wall. Photo from DeNoble Home.


repurposed bed springs with test tube vases

How cool is this? Old bedsprings coil around test tubes for a farmhouse-style arrangement. Photo from Country Sampler Summer Decorating.



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Apron Sinks, Shiplap Walls, Ruffled Curtains—Oh My! Which Farmhouse Element is Your Favorite?

Farmhouse Front Porch

Wide front porches like this one from Resa Bartlett’s Indiana home, are enjoyable spaces for farmhouse living. See more of Resa’s home in the spring 2019 issue of Farmhouse Style. (Photographed by Gridley + Graves)

Hello again, farmhouse lovers! In my last blog post, I talked about the different versions of farmhouse decor. I loved exploring all the various looks, but even more so, I absolutely loved hearing from all of you about what farmhouse style you are! I heard from people who are more cottage farmhouse, those who prefer a more cabin look, even one woman who was thrilled to find out she favors the French farmhouse style. And yes, I have to agree with another reader—I love gleaming brass pots as well! Keep the comments coming, and if you haven’t read that post, be sure to go back and check it out (and remember, you can hit that Follow This Blog button to make sure you don’t miss a single post).

This time, I want to delve even deeper into what makes farmhouse style … well, farmhouse. Obviously, we can look at the architectural style and history of a home. Original farmhouses tended to have wide porches, easy-to-maintain surfaces and large kitchens. (Where else could you feed those big farm families from the past?) The floors, walls, cabinetry and furnishings often had a can-do attitude to them. They were made out of sturdy, readily available materials, and they needed to last for many years. The furnishings were more functional than beautiful. (Although as many of us will wholeheartedly agree, those old farmhouse furnishings are, indeed, truly beautiful.)

From those early farmhouses came elements like rough plank flooring (perfect for muddy boots to tramp in from the fields), long wooden farm tables with bench seating (easy to squeeze in another person for dinner), sliding barn doors (not always in the house but very functional in the barn), large apron sinks (an ideal design to wash all the veggies from the garden), and those wide open porches (the absolute best for rocking away the summer nights).

farmhouse table and stairs

Resa Bartlett’s dining room includes such typical farmhouse elements as chippy furnishings, repurposed farm pieces, a sliding barn door, tobacco baskets and flowing white fabrics. (Photographed by Gridley + Graves)

As we bring those traditional farmhouse looks into a more modern aesthetic, we’re seeing a mingling of elements, and some old ones used in new ways. Chicken wire, feeders and nesting boxes, once found only in the henhouse, are now enjoying new life as gorgeously revamped farmhouse decor. Want a few simple ways to add these favorites to your home? Replace inside panels of cabinet doors with chicken wire; turn poultry feeders into planters or bases for table arrangements; employ a nesting box as a shoe holder.

Through their successful run on “Fixer Upper,” Chip and Joanna Gaines made shiplap a household word. You know it as the horizontally striped white-painted wood walls found in nearly every farmhouse-style home. But what is shiplap?

Traditional shiplap is a rough-sawn wooden board typically used for exterior siding. It has rabbets, or notches, on the edges to allow the pieces to overlap and make a flush joint. While shiplap is still very popular, there has been a bit of trend-tiredness with it lately. What do you think? Do you still love shiplap or are you ready for something new?

grain sack curtains

Anita Diaz at Far Above Rubies made simple curtains from old vintage feed sacks her grandfather had saved. Visit Anita’s blog to learn more. (Designed and photographed by Anita Diaz)

Grain sacks are another iconic element of farmhouse style. Did you know they originated as a decor item when Depression-era housewives started using the empty flour and feed sacks as an inexpensive material for curtains or dishcloths? Companies got wise and started printing logos and bright designs on the sacks. Today, we see grain-sack table runners, curtains, and even upholstered chairs. Want to get a quick grain-sack look without having to find an original piece? Take a long piece of rough cotton material and paint a few stripes along either side to replicate the look. (Try one thick stripe flanked by two thin stripes for an easily recognizable design.)

What other elements do we see that typically say “farmhouse”? Open shelves filled with large glass jars or canisters are great in kitchens; ruffled white curtains billow beautifully at large windows (even better when the wind from the prairie blows gently through the screens); large beds piled high with plump pillows and snuggle-up quilts are a welcome retreat at the end of a long day. I could name quite a few more—subway tile, cotton-boll arrangements, whitewashed brick, cupboards filled with ironstone, tobacco baskets. I’m sure you could name many more, too. So what are your favorite elements of farmhouse style? Do you favor old baskets? Love chippy white tables? Adore a soft, colorful quilt? Or maybe you have some treasured pieces from your grandparents that brighten your day every time you see them. I’d love to hear about it all! Drop a comment below and tell me about your favorite farmhouse designs.


P.S. If you love this blog, you’ll be sure to like our Farmhouse Style Extra newsletter as well. Sign up in the box at the right and you’ll get great tips, articles and DIYs right to your inbox every month.

farm table with tin place mats

Long wooden farm tables were a necessity for farm families of the past. These ceiling-tin place mats are an easy DIY from our designer. See the Autumn 2018 issue of Farmhouse Style for full instructions.



ironstone in cupboard

How beautiful is an old cupboard filled with white ironstone pieces? (Photographed by Matthew Owen)

sliding door

Sliding barn doors have come along way since their functional duties on the family farm. Here, an Indiana blogger uses the door to separate her closet from the bedroom. See more of her home in the upcoming Autumn 2019 issue of Farmhouse Style. (Photographed by Matthew Owen)

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‘Farmhouse is Not Just All White’—Which Farmhouse Style is for You?

Hello, farmhouse fans! Susan Wagner here, and welcome to our new blog! We’ll be coming to you twice a month, sharing our thoughts on farmhouse decorating, tips on living the farmhouse life, instructions for creating cool DIY projects, behind-the-scenes peeks at the magazine, delicious recipes, nostalgic anecdotes and more. So hit that “Follow This Blog” button at the right to make sure you don’t miss a thing!

So, let’s get to it. We all know the popular whitewashed-walls-and-light-colored-furnishings look of the Chip and Joanna Gaines’ Fixer Upper homes. For many of us, that dreamy, creamy look is the epitome of our favorite farmhouse decorating. But as popular as that style is, it is not the only reflection of farmhouse decor. As one reader pointed out: “Farmhouse is not just all white—bring in some color!”

She is so right! Farmhouse style is more than just white, crisp, clean-lined, simplistic rooms. It is rough-hewn woods, vintage handkerchiefs, painted cabinets, softened denim, Edison bulbs, contrasting hues, woven baskets, corrugated tin, rustic clays, copper pots and many more elements that help fashion its different faces. In fact, farmhouse style is not just one look, but various iterations of a similar style. True, all these farmhouse looks do blur together a bit at the edges and they often share common characteristics, but the distinctions do occur. And as is the case with nearly everything in life, one size does not fit all. So for the reader who likes her farmhouse decorating painted in color and the farmhouse lover who prefers Western ranch-style living, there’s a perfect-fit farmhouse style for each of them as well as a few other farmhouse looks for other decorators, as you’ll see.

Traditional Farmhouse

Traditional Farmhouse

Photographed and Styled by Gridley + Graves. See more of this home in the Winter 2018 issue of Farmhouse Style.

Sliding barn doors, apron sinks, shiplap walls, mason jars, farm implements—this is the farmhouse style we’ve become so familiar with. It is the one Chip and Joanna so famously popularized. For many, THIS is farmhouse style; nothing else needs to be said. And it certainly does have its wonderful qualities. It’s comfortable, with cushy sofas and piles of pillows. It’s forgiving, with weathered wood floors and chippy chairs. It’s easy, with that mix-and-mingle design aesthetic. Fans of the traditional farmhouse style love the natural materials and rustic pieces used in this look, and they appreciate the can-do functionality of the design. And it’s fun to recreate everyday farm tools, like chicken wire, into new pieces.

Modern Farmhouse

Modern Farmhouse

Photographed by Ken Gutmaker. Styled by Sara Syrett. See more of this home in the Spring 2019 issue of Farmhouse Style.

Take the traditional farmhouse style and shine it up a bit. Eliminate some furnishings, focus on just a couple of vintage favorites, bring in a few sleek elements, and add a touch of black here and there, and you have modern farmhouse style. This is a look for those who like the simple nature of traditional farmhouse but want a more refined finish. They like the comfortable, but not the chippy. Yes to the rustic, but no to the ragged. Lovers of modern farmhouse style will often include industrial touches, such as metal pendant lamps or tall, curved faucets. Also popular in this look is subway tile in kitchens or bathrooms; the clean, modular pattern offset by the black lines epitomizes a contemporary look. Any natural materials used are refined, the woods gleaming a bit, the stone polished. Sleek black chairs are paired with a majestic farmhouse table. Bathroom sinks tend toward hammered metal or clean-cut stone. Modern farmhouse style is for those who like some of the aesthetics of farmhouse decor but want a more upscale, contemporary look.

Rustic/Western Farmhouse

Rustic/Western Farmhouse

Photographed by Mark Lohman. Styled by Fifi O’Neill. See more of this home in the Spring 2019 issue of Farmhouse Style.

Now, if you bring in a lot more rustic, timeworn and hewn pieces, such as heavy wood beams or weathered dark barnwood, and accent them with salvaged farm and ranch tools, live-edge wood slab shelves, images of longhorn steer or horses, and taxidermy wall hangings, you’re veering toward a rustic/Western-ranch style of farmhouse decorating. This look still has many of the basics of traditional farmhouse—you’ll find a nod to the past, cozy furnishings, textured materials—but you won’t get that all-white Fixer Upperlook. The rustic farmhouse style doesn’t have to include Western elements; without them, this look is still different from traditional farmhouse in that the materials are often more weathered and raw, the colors usually darker, the overall feel more connected to the natural environment. A rustic/Western farmhouse style can even be more modern with refined materials, still texturized and natural, but more high-end.

Vintage/Cottage Farmhouse

Vintage/Cottage Farmhouse

Photographed by Mark Lohman. Styled by Fifi O’Neill. See more of this home in the Winter 2018 issue of Farmhouse Style.

On the other end of the spectrum from the rustic Western farmhouse look, we have the more vintage cottage farmhouse feel. Again, the bones of this look come from traditional farmhouse decor, but there are a lot more frills and flounce. Ruffled curtains and bedding abound. Old tea towels and aprons become decorative accents. Fabric skirts appear under white cast-iron sinks. You’ll see more architectural trim enhancing rooms and more antiques and vintage pieces decorating tables and shelves. Often, collections are highlighted in this style, and there’s a real yen for using old dishes and pitchers. Colors tend to be lighter, but not all white; you’ll see swashes of pastels and often painted woodwork.

French/European Farmhouse

French/European Farmhouse

Photographed by Styled by Donna Pizzi. See more of this home in the Summer 2019 issue of Farmhouse Style, on sale April 16.

There’s still yet another style of farmhouse that has its own niche—a French/European farmhouse look. Cool grays, warm woods, perhaps a bit whitewashed, scrolled edging, lightly painted woods, verdigris metals, maybe a touch of distressed gold here and there—details that bring forth the feeling of the sunny French countryside. Like all the farmhouse looks, it’s casual and comfortable in nature, but not as roughly worn. It has a softer touch and also a bit more of an elegant feel.

As you can see, farmhouse style does not all have to look the same. As with any great room design, you can make it what you want, choosing furnishings and materials that you truly enjoy. So out of all these different farmhouse styles, which do you prefer?



P.S. Do you know you can still buy back issues of Farmhouse Style magazine? Click here to start your collection from the very beginning with the first issue.

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