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Rustic and fresh: Farmhouse style |

Rustic and fresh: Farmhouse style

Farmhouse style is a fairly new term used in the design world today. But it’s seen everywhere — on television, in stores, in catalogues and on home décor websites. You almost can’t escape it.

We think of farmhouses in rural areas where farmers and their families had to fend for themselves. Functionality and necessity were the key factors in furnishing and living in their homes. Whatever was available to them where they lived, they utilized.

As we all can attest to, most fashion and home décor styles bask in the sun for a period of time, then they fall by the wayside. A case in point was the style coined “Shabby Chic” back in the 1990s. It was all the rage. Its style elements were a precursor to farmhouse style today. Lots of chipped frames, columns, corbels and furniture were in the mix with white paint as its foundation. The color pink and green were at the forefront, along with ruffles, china and chintz.

Today’s farmhouse style has some of these characteristics, but with much more sophistication. It is straightforward and exudes rusticity. This motif, as did shabby chic, mixes well with traditional pieces in your home. It can be paired with many styles including contemporary, mid-century modern, French Country as well as good old elements of Americana.

The elements of farmhouse design include mixing metals, such as brass, copper, iron and nickel. Galvanized containers, such as laundry baskets, are a big part of this look. All shapes of wire baskets can be used as stylish storage for just about anything. From decorative objects to books and magazines, even the mail. These baskets can house necessary supplies, such as in your laundry room (soap powders and the like), on a desk (office supplies, in–out baskets), or in the kitchen (filling them with canisters to place on counters or in pantries). This is where function and style come together.

There are other ways to use metal accents as well. In the kitchen, hanging copper pots from a beam, on a wall or stacked on the bottom shelf of an island add to the ambience of this sometimes urban, yet country look.

And this country style feels fresh and bright. Classic white cabinets or free-standing cabinetry are another feature. White is the dominant color used throughout a farmhouse chic home. Open shelving displaying white ironstone dinnerware adorn the shelves while white ironstone pitchers contain beautiful flowers from the gardens on a farm or in your yard. And don’t forget the homegrown herbs that season your food and play an important part in the garden.

White subway tile is used in bathrooms as well as in the kitchen for backsplashes. These mix well with hardwood floors, ceiling beams and sliding barn doors. In addition, another feature synonymous with farmhouse kitchen style is a farmhouse sink — a large, square sink with a front apron. Farmers and their families used this sink to wash their bounty and to bathe their babies!

Large distressed dining tables are often paired with iron chairs. Crystal chandeliers can be added for a touch of luxe. And you can go beyond sheetrock for the walls. They may be made of horizontal, wooden boards, sometimes tongue and groove. Today we know them as “Shiplap.” Actually this style has been used in farmhouses for centuries, especially in the south. Along with shiplap, bead board has made its presence well known in this style.

Farmhouse decor today reflects a lifestyle that is functional, stylish and shows a love of the land. It is a simple style and can be accomplished by those who enjoy DIY projects. Recycling and renovating are key as well as mixing the old with the new, rustic with elegant and casual with formal. It is an unpretentious style, very matter of fact, but very welcoming and stylish.

Janice Serendi, a member of the Interior Design Society, is a professional design consultant in Old Saybrook and has joined Design House Interiors, LLC of Wallingford. DHI offers full service design services including kitchen design and premium home staging. She can be reached at 860-388-1770 or at the Wallingford Studio at 203-836-4909. Visit her at or email her at

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