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

 In Farmhouse Style

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

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

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

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

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

Photographed by BlackstoneEdge.com. 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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Showing 17 comments
  • Robin

    You cannot beat the rustic farmhouse feeling. The warmth of the wood and feelings of nostalgia from various antique pieces- both fun and functional- placed thoughtfully throughout a room is most inviting! This is, without a doubt, a happy place to be.

  • Sheila Allen

    I love them all!!!! 🙂

  • Aaryne McEvoy

    Hi Susan…I love this! I’m soon to be the happy owner of a dilapidated farmhouse that I have stalked for years and have started putting serious thought into the design, function and décor of our someday fixed up new-old farmhouse. But, I can’t get on board with the trend for white, wood and metal. I need some color, whimsy and cozy softness. Based on your descriptions, I’m a mix between country cottage and French farmhouse. Ooo la la!

    • Susan Wagner

      Aaryne, the French farmhouse look is such a fabulous mix of colors and textures. I’m sure it will be wonderful in your farmhouse. I tend to be a little partial to the cottage look myself as well. Happy decorating!

  • Linda Kay Price

    Dear Susan Wagner,
    I wanted to take this opportunity to tell you how much I LOVE your Special Issues of Country Sampler. You do a FABULOUS job in all that you do to make Country Sampler my very favorite magazine. My favorite is all the details that are in the photos in the magazines. I get so excited when I get one of the magazines in the mail. I purchase most of the Special Issues at the stores. My favorites are Country Sampler, Autumn Decorating, Christmas Decorating, and Home Tours. I save all the issues of these magazines and refer to them often. This month I’m going to subscribe to Farmhouse Style. I grew up in a Farmhouse in Iowa with mom, dad, 3 brothers and one sister. We came to California to live in 1959. My husband and I live in a small city in CA, but the farms we lived on in our younger years remain in our hearts.

    Thank you for all you do to bring so much pleasure in our lives.

  • Elaine Liming

    Eastern /New England—-Farm house style has the influence of the Shakers—Wooden furniture—hand crafted-tongue and groove. Use of wooden pegs for hanging

    Dyed cloth made from plants and berries in nature creative wood pieces carved wooden bowels–spoons etc. Growing herbs in kitchen for use in cooking

    Home made copper cooking utensils homemade soaps and household cleaners Dried bouquets of flowers hanging

    This is also farmhouse style to me .

    • Susan Wagner

      Elaine, that New England Shaker look has many of the same elements we see in newer farmhouse styles. Plus, it’s been around a lot longer! That’s the beauty of today’s decorating—you can mix and mingle what style you like and not have to worry about having everything match a certain look. If you love it, that’s all that counts!

  • Carol

    Love your magazine. Merry Christmas from me to me!! Excited about this blog. Wish print was a little darker , bold, so easier to read. Not whining. Just commenting. Ha! Love different Farmhouse looks. I have a bitt of several in my home. Chicken wire is a favorite thing along with collection of enamel ware.

  • Judy Rumsey

    I love the western look — we have a log home and it’s the fun of the hunt to find decorating items.

  • Sue Kirkman

    Love your blog!

  • Cynthia

    LOVE this magazine !! SOOO happy Country Sampler has Farmhouse magazine ! Great articles ! Yes ! Farmhouse style has many looks ! I have brown cabinets in my farmhouse kitchen so I agree it does not all have to be white !i live on a farm and have a true farmhouse kitchen ! All my friends say it should be in all the magazines ! I adore decorating ! It is my passion ! My wood beams are stained dark brown ! I have a used brisk fireplace behind my farmtable as well as used brick backsplash and my islands are tile and granite ! I love traditional farmhouse with splashes of color too ! Red being my favorite ! I love red and white gingham tablecloths on my farm tables and center island in the summer with charming old fashion decor of pic nic baskets and chippy scales and lots of ironstone,florals of sunflowers and of course farm animals scattered too ! Ha! Anyway! I have all your editions and keep them coming ! From a real old fashion farmgal in Idaho !

  • Judy

    Love the farmhouse style.

  • Ann Tatum

    Thanks so much for sharing the different styles! I grew up in a true farmhouse and just moved back to the farm. We definitely fit in the rustic farmhouse category… especially being a “true” farm-house. I’ll be sharing about our adventures here & will pass on this post to my followers. Thanks! Looking forward to reading more on the blog.

  • Suzanne Carpenter

    Loved this blog..I printed it for when I redo my house for a farmhouse look..I am leaning toward the vintage farmhouse style..thanks

  • Susan Wagner

    I’m so happy to see everyone’s warm comments! And it’s so great to see how everyone interprets farmhouse style differently and what appeals to each. Keep the comments coming, and feel free to share your home’s pictures on our Facebook page, or tag us on Instagram. Welcome everyone!

  • Terrie Legein

    I am brand new to your Farmhouse magazine and absolutely love it! I’ve read it 3 times already and cannot wait for the next issue …. so I ordered all the back issues and hope they come soon too! I especially love the Trash to Treasure section …. I hope this is included in every issue. Thanks for a great publication!

  • Denise Halvorson

    Need to see washed shiplap — NOT IN WHITEWASH. Can do GREYGREENWASH?? on 1-2 walls?

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