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

 In Decorating, Farmhouse Style
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.

—Susan

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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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flowers in milk bottles in metal tray