Updated: Jul 15, 2022
With more people looking to put their own modern rustic creative touches on their homes we are starting to hear more about modern rustic styles.
A modern farmhouse style blends the old and new, elegant and rustic, contemporary and vintage that all come together create a space of clean comfort.
In this detailed article we will explore the secret to what is modern farmhouse style. Of course you will have an easier time if you start with an older farmhouse in the countryside, but these concepts can be applied to a house in the city or suburbs as well.
It’s the philosophy that you need to embrace.
The traditional farmhouse evokes a cozy laid-back feeling and a sense of warmth. It creates a nostalgic feeling or memory of things from a time that we believe was much simpler. It’s interesting though that we see our society as very complex and technologically advanced and the olden times as a simpler time. The problem with this way of thinking becomes an issue when we look at architecture and home design. Our images of the past may be of a simpler time, however without the advanced technology that we have nowadays to make our life easier it was actually a much more physically demanding and harsher time.
This is why at ShizenStyle we believe that modern rustic style is one of the most appealing styles. Basically we are aiming for the best of both worlds. You have laid-back comfortable feelings of warmth but the additional modern luxuries that technology has brought us.
The modern farmhouse style tends to lean more towards an air of elegance and sophistication. It blends both sleek and solid colors with raw natural elements, such as reclaimed wood, steel accents, and wide plank floors. It is because of modern materials that we can highlight the older original accent pieces that we use. The pure farmhouse style leans more towards cluttered antiques, knotty pine, and strange wallpaper. So the modern farmhouse style leans more towards a minimalist open concept and the country farmhouse tends to have more accessories and kitschy items.
Modern Farmhouse Architecture
On of the defining looks of the farmhouse style is in its architecture. Particularly in the gable roofs, which are the steeper triangular pitched roofs. This is a common feature with barns and is still used to highlight and elongate the height of the house. Also, while not a necessity, a metal roof is often used for functionality and durability. The steeper slants and metal materials are great for keeping the rain and snow off of the roofs, extending the life of the roof in the process.
A white color is often the most commonly seen color of choice, but I wouldn’t limit yourself to that. Because of the boxy indents and connected pieces of the house, you can mix in a whole different color for a different area of the house.
Keep it Seasonal
Because we use a modern rustic style we do not aim to have too many accent pieces. Therefore some of the pieces that we choose should be changed out more often reflecting the changing seasons. Real flowers from the garden in a vase or dried flowers and herbs or pine in the winter are just a few examples how you can bring nature inside.This hand blown glass flower vase is nice because it maintains a unique shape which shows natural curves that subconsciously make us think original and hand-made, a connection between man and nature.
Traditional farm life had no air conditioning or central heating so the daily weather and seasonal changes affected your life in a much greater way than they do today. We believe by default people were more in tune with nature in the past. They had to pay attention to what Mother Nature was doing. If they actually worked on a farm then the harvest season, droughts, floods etc. very much affected their way of life. As our standard level of comfort rises we should still aim to keep nature present in our lives.
Continuing on the theme of seasonal, larger picture box windows should be used when possible. Having clear views outside Will allow you to bring nature inside. This may take a bit of construction with adjusting the frames but you should aim for windows without the traditional grids in them, they only distract you from seeing a clear picture outside. And from the outside looking in, a larger or longer piece of glass will make a big difference in achieving a modern look even on a farmhouse style home.
Embrace the Outdoors
Although bringing the outside in is the main goal with larger picture box windows one thing that’s even better is actually going outside! Porches are a key feature in a modern farmhouse style. You can get a lot more use out of your porch if it is covered. A great way to bring in the modern style is to have a second floor overhang the first floor creating an open-air porch. The look will remain clean and sharp if you can avoid screens and railings. This will also keep your view from inside unobstructed. You do have to check with local building codes about railings being a necessity or not, but in general most areas will not require a railing for a one or maybe two-step deck. A pond or a modern rectangular shaped pool will also draw you outside and enhance the view from inside.
Tell a Story
Every accent item you use should tell a story. You want to decorate the area around the accent pieces with subtlety and a clean look in order to truly highlight a piece of furniture or mirror that has a story to it. You could also do that oppositely with natural earth tones and a particular silver matte finished accent piece. But this item should have some sentimental value or story behind it because these types of items should be kept to a minimum. This is one of the differentiating ideas between the modern and the classic farmhouse.
The Modern Farmhouse Kitchen Table
The modern farmhouse kitchen could it be a possible place of conflict for those struggling with tradition or modernity. Traditionally the kitchen was the heart the house. Families tended to have more children than today and it was a social gathering space for the entire family. If this sounds like your lifestyle then I encourage you to stay with this theme, incorporating a longer 8 to 10 person kitchen table.
But a big thing to consider is also the amount of space this will take up. If you are single, a couple, or have a smaller family then maybe you would find a better use for the space than having an unused large kitchen table and dining room.
Even if you decide to go with a smaller table you should aim to make at this table feature. And depending on the overall style of the room you may want to contrast with either more modern or more rustic than the surrounding decor. Meaning that if you have sleek solid drywall in there you may want to go with a live slab hardwood with a steel frame. Or oppositely, if you have rougher textured walls then you might want to go with a very modern looking table possibly with unique curves to draw attention to it. Sometimes contrasting with the modern and the rustic is the best way that they can harmonize.
Modern Rustic Kitchen Décor
Kitchen floor can set the tone for the whole room. Much of the historic charm is maintained in country style wide-plank floors. This could be where you leave it rustic or you could go with the modern thinner planked wood or tile. If you go for the rustic floor then you should aim to incorporate many of the modern conveniences such a sleek countertop, as opposed to traditional wooden butcher block, and clean paint colors. Solid black or white appliances could easily fit the modern kitchen but you might also want to look into a stainless steel with brushed metal finish.Copper cookware can also be displayed and give you a beautiful rustic look with something that is still very functional.
Many modern farmhouses make use of a lot of natural wood and stone. One clear distinction between classic farmhouses and Country living is the use of darker log cabin interiors versus lighter brighter colors inside. You can still keep the farmhouse feel with a natural wood, but you might want to leave more towards a natural finish. You may have a particular look that you were going for and a darker stain at times may fit that look but the standard log cabin image very much relies on darker red cedar or an almost orange color, which tends to be wall-to-wall and ceiling covered as well.
In the above picture of a natural wood tone modern farmhouse you can see how the bold black wood stands in contrast to the earth tones. These same color patterns can be used inside for decorating as well. The black may be stained or burned with a shou-sugi-ban technique. The blonde wood tone is a nice change from the standard bright white that is often used and it allows for a more relaxed and comfortable feeling.
So staying with a brighter colored wood will be a stark contradiction to the old-style but will still maintain the comfort of natural wood. The benefit is that is the room will also appear much larger with the brighter colors and natural lighter what tones when themselves to both gray and white solid colors on some of the walls.
Reclaimed Barn Wood
Continuing with natural wood, reclaimed barn wood for interior paneling has become quite popular. The naturally weathered barn panels provide for interesting variety of tones that are still complementary. It can be a lot of work however to try to use the actual pieces of bar barn wood. Often there is de-nailing, sanding, and planing involved. I’ve done this but it was a lot less fun than I was anticipating.
I started to use some reclaimed barn wood wall panels that come with a peel and stick application. It’s still 100% percent reclaimed barn wood but there is an adhesive strip on the back that makes for easy installation.
Stone for Interior Design
Stone can be used as another way to bring nature inside. The raw rock textures of stone help you create a nice balance between the solid walls. Using stones of various sizes and shapes also breaks up the bland symmetry that can sometimes occur when going for a clean walk. Brick walls are also often exposed around fireplaces and mantels. You may want to keep a natural rough textured brick as an accent to the surrounding colors, or you might want to do the opposite and paint the brick.
Every wall does not also need to be of the same texture. You could have one wall that features a stone pattern all the way from floor to ceiling, similar to what you might see on a reclaimed wood wall.
Another use of stone for interior design would be in the flooring. Hardwood may be the most common image that we have but a stone or cement floor can also have the same effect of bringing in a natural element. Poured concrete will make for a very interesting combination with wooden walls.
Modern Furniture in a Rustic Living Room or Den
A rustic living room or den can be brought to life the use modern furniture. With the earth toned walls or rough wood beams a contrasting bold colored yet soft piece of furniture, such as a sofa or chair, could really work well. A large cushy sofa with a velvety material can still keep a certain amount of comfort and casualness to the room. A sleeker hardwood and steel chairs set with a small table could be a nice addition to a rustic living room or den and complement a cushy sofa. Look for pieces of furniture that have a nontraditional shape, something with and elongated base or or extreme curves. This will make for a very interesting clash of modern and rustic.
Furniture with a Wood and Steel Combination
Furniture with wooden steel combination often fit very well modern farmhouse. A thick live slab wood with a solid steel base can be the best of both worlds. But you may not always want a thick bold piece of furniture. Thinner wood and something with mid-century modern legs or wrought-iron steel legs are very classy and sophisticated looking.
Fireplaces in a Modern Farmhouse
Needless to say no modern farmhouse would be complete without a fireplace, or two or three! A large fireplace is often a focal point of the living room or dinning room. To once again bring nature inside, try to incorporate an area near the fireplace where you can stack actual fire would. This could be a freestanding firewood holder or some kind of nook that is built into the wall.
A large brick fireplace or a smaller steel fireplace with the tube going up and outside are both ideal. Both types of fireplaces get the job done and have a rustic presence. There is really nothing that can replace the feeling, the smells, and the sounds of a real fire on a winter’s evening. They do take a little bit of work with cleaning and gathering firewood but it is definitely worth it.
That being said, we have come a long way in gas fireplace technology and design. I recommend having a real fireplace and a gas fireplace completing the modern and rusted blend. The benefits and ease-of-use with a gas fireplace that you can turn on with a switch cannot be understated. If you’re planning on having two fireplaces, a real one and a gas one, then I recommend having a more modern looking gas fireplace to compliment rustic one.
Rugs For Rustic Hardwood Flooring
Because hardwood and concrete floors are usually the go-to in modern farmhouses sometimes a soft rug is needed to create a little comfort. With basic colors and earth tone walls the carpet or area rug can be your place to add a little pop of color as well or add in something with an interesting design.
Industrial metals and wood can be great features to add to the modern décor. Look for items that might be made with pipes and wood. This could be in the form of a hanging pendant, a light stand or maybe some shelving. An Industrial Rustic Modern Wood Ladder Pipe Wall Shelf would be a great small addition to a bedroom, kitchen, den, living room etc.
One popular way to literally bring the farmhouse style in is to do it with a sliding barn door. This can give a basic white room a functional accent piece. Just remember at you need to have double the size of the door available for it to be able to slide smoothly. This may be too much farmhouse for some people, but it would make a big difference in a city home aiming to add touches of the rustic modern farmhouse look. There are many DIY kits out there to help you with the installation process, which has become much easier due to its recent popularity. I particularly like this one with a lighter color. I thing it would fit well in a room with slightly bolder walls colors or brick as well.
The doors do not necessarily need to actually look like a framed barn door, although they can. But a door using a variety of colored reclaimed wood could also be a great artistic feature. You can also get larger doors for entryways larger than a typical narrow door size.
Check out this sliding barn door that can be as long as 16’, with an 8’ entryway that really allows you to connect the two rooms when fully opened. This allows you to get an open concept when you want to and also the ability to close it for privacy.
A simple farmhouse design should allow for a simple lifestyle. The modern farmhouse style encourages us to unplug from the world yet still allows us to entertain and have guests over. It’s a place that is both comfortable yet is still connected to the world, both nature and the online world that has become a part of our lives. That isn’t something that should be ignored.
This design concept isn’t a full solo retreat into the wilderness, but a place that allows us to both relax and reenergize. Open spaces should be included as places for the whole family and guests can gather, but private spaces for exercise, home offices, kids entertainment rooms, spas etc. should all be taken into consideration when thinking about space allocation.
So in the end, the secret to what is modern farmhouse style lies in your ability to find that perfect blend of modern and rustic, original and traditional. There is no one secret to pass on because there is no right or wrong, only your interpretation of nature and the creativity you bring to developing your modern farmhouse style. Visit ShizenStyle to see more examples of this philosophy of us a modern rustic lifestyle.