Reinventing a Traditional Style for Today’s Homeowner
While HGTV shows and the popularity of Fixer Upper spotlighted the modern Farmhouse style – placing it in the architectural mainstream and the collective consciousness – the design had been gaining in popularity long before Joanna Gaines appeared on the scene. As supersized American homes began to lose their luster in the early 2000s, there was a pull toward the simplicity, comfort, and relaxed feel of a traditional home.
So began the reinvention of the classic Farmhouse into a “shabby chic” country-living-inspired modern design. As more people look to embrace that which is familiar – and things that make them feel good – the simple farmhouse has been upgraded for modern living while maintaining its innate charm and warmth.
This stylish, charming 1-story Farmhouse style home beautifully blends familiar elements – wide front porch, multi-pane windows, and gable roof – with a modern-day open-floor-plan interior, split bedroom layout where the master suite is on one side and the other secondary bedrooms are on the opposite end or another level, spacious Great Room with vaulted ceiling, and chef’s kitchen with a large pantry (Plan #206-1020).
Let’s explore the timeless Farmhouse style as it has evolved into an adaptable modern design that brings the quaint and folksy into the chic and sophisticated. We look at the elements that make the "Modern Farmhouse" different from its classic counterpart – and yet just as refreshing and homey. And if you're looking for an architectural style reminiscent of a working farm but with all of today's modern amenities, be sure to take a closer look at the popular modern barn house or barndominium plans.
Farmhouse Style: Classic vs. Modern
What familiar images come to mind when someone says "Farmhouse"? A rambling two-story structure on a lush expanse of land, an inviting wraparound porch, warm and comforting surroundings?
Truly an icon of American architecture, the classic farmhouse draws from the look and feel of the homes of the early settlers. Typically, a two-story or 1.5-story structure, it has simple vertical lines and combines minimalistic decor with sturdy, practical furnishings. Bedrooms are usually on the second floor – although transitional and, of course, one-story Farmhouse style homes have master suites on the main level.
You can expect dormer windows on the second floor, gable style roofs, window shutters, a fireplace in the living room, natural wood accents that include exposed beams and wide-plank floors, function-over-form kitchens, apron sinks, vintage furniture, and fabrics that lean toward florals.
This classic two-story Farmhouse style home features a wide wraparound porch, gable roof, and windows with colorful shutters. The home has four bedrooms – three on the second floor – a family room, a basement, and a spacious kitchen with a breakfast bar and built-in table on the cooktop island (Plan #109-1093).
The Modern Farmhouse style is a sophisticated version of the classic design that effortlessly blends the rustic and the industrial. It takes the beautiful simplicity and cozy vibe of the traditional farmhouse and elevates it to fit contemporary living and needs.
The style – while remarkably like the classic farmhouse – has a more open floor plan and larger windows. It features smooth lines, natural textures, and modern accents like stainless-steel appliances, granite countertops, and sleek lighting. Neutral color schemes are dominant, but bright and bold tones are also mixed in occasionally.
And where traditional farmhouses were typically two or 1.5 stories – with living areas downstairs and sleeping areas upstairs – it's not unusual to find a single-story home in the Modern Farmhouse style. It's also quite the trend to have the master suite on the first floor – even with new 1.5 or two-story Farmhouse plans.
This charming one-story Modern Farmhouse style home takes the classic design into the present with its updated exterior and interior features. The front porch – while perhaps not as wide as those in some traditional farmhouses – is as welcoming and warm. Open the wood-trimmed front door, and walk into an open floor layout with a vaulted Great Room, kitchen, dining area, and rear covered porch. There are four bedrooms and three bathrooms, a family room, bonus room, and an outdoor kitchen (Plan #142-1218).
Elements of the Modern Farmhouse
1. White and Gray
A more neutral color palette is a great strategy for creating a timeless and warm design. Think neutrals such as white, shades of beige, creams, silver, and other muted tones – like light gray and slate – especially for the home’s exterior facade. A splash of color here and there is on-trend, particularly with decor accents that spice up the interior space.
Curb appeal to the max is on display in this 1.5-story Modern Farmhouse that features a warm white exterior accented by the gable style metal roof, black-trimmed multi-pane windows, and wood trim. The quaint covered front porch welcomes everyone into the the1,999-square-foot home, which includes three bedrooms, 3.5 baths, a spacious rear porch, and an unfinished basement (Plan #106-1328).
A splash of color on the fireplace mantel and attractive decor accents create this interesting and appealing family room in a lovely Modern Farmhouse residence. Add exposed wood beams on the vaulted ceiling, hardwood floors, area rug, and comfortable furnishings – and you have the perfect hangout space in the home (Plan #106-1328).
2. Primary/Secondary Metal Roof
With their clean straight lines, standing-seam metal roofs are an ideal complement to the simple, practical elements of the Modern Farmhouse, and are particularly attractive in designs with asymmetrical shapes and low slopes. There are three distinct panel styles – corrugated, striated, and ribbed, or standing seam – that can be customized to the home. Nowadays, standing seam metal roofs are by far the most popular and come in many colors, including the fashionable matte gray.
Beyond their appealing aesthetic, standing-seam metal roofs are a popular choice because of their good looks, durability, sustainability, and easy maintenance. Remember that original farmhouses were built on farms and homesteads and had to withstand the forces of nature, such as strong wind gusts, heavy rain, and snow, so these metal roofs play to that tradition.
In addition to function, standing-seam metal roofs are also used as decorative accents over a porch, portico, or bay or boxed window when the rest of the roof may be covered in less-expensive asphalt shingles.
Stunning exterior lighting is just one aspect that makes this one-story Contemporary Farmhouse style home that stops you in your tracks; there are also its picturesque landscape, inviting front porch with rustic wood columns, forward-facing gable, and gray standing-seam metal roof. The gable wings flanking the porch feature shed awnings that highlight the metal roof as a decor accent. The home has an open floor design, three bedrooms, 2.5 baths, and a Great Room – family room, dining area, and main kitchen all in an open floor plan. Completing the amenities are a walk-in pantry, a 677-square-foot 2-car garage located on the right side of the house, and a 400-square-foot bonus room above the garage (Plan #142-1233).
3. Vertical Siding
It seems fitting that one of the elements of Modern Farmhouse design is vertically oriented siding, which like the original architectural style, dates to Colonial times when early settlers built and protected their homes with sawn boards cut from trees. Created out of necessity centuries ago merely as a practical and functional element, vertical siding has evolved into a trendy and versatile design feature in today’s modern residences.
Vertical siding gives traditional homes – like Farmhouse and Ranch styles – a more contemporary, stylish look, and the materials' clean, bold lines can complement other components – the home’s roof, ceilings, kitchen, and bathroom backsplashes – making overall design and decor bright, attractive, and appealing.
This fabulous 1.5-story Contemporary Farmhouse style home with three bedrooms and 2.5 baths expertly use vertical siding to enhance its attractive exterior facade. Check out the standing-seam metal roofing, which complements the lines of the siding and creates an elegant and uncluttered vibe (Plan #142-1238).
Beadboard paneling applied inside can reinforce exterior vertical siding treatments. This amazing kitchen features a vaulted ceiling with beadboard paneling and exposed timbers. The kitchen is one of the great features of a beautiful 1.5-story, three-bedroom Contemporary Farmhouse style home (Plan #106-1328).
4. Simple Front Porch
While a wide and spacious covered front porch is the most distinctive characteristic of the traditional Farmhouse style, the modern version’s porch is normally simpler in structure but still as cozy and homey. Where possible today, porches eschew railings, column brackets, fascia trim, and other decorative frills.
In addition, the decor accents of the Modern Farmhouse style – porch swings, rocking chairs, and comfy outdoor furniture – are minimalistic, in keeping with the clean and sophisticated lines of the architectural design.
It’s homey, cozy, and inviting! Welcome to this delightful front porch of a spectacular two-story, 2,484-square-foot transitional Modern Farmhouse style home with three bedrooms, 3.5 baths, and lots of space for future expansion (Plan 106-1324).
5. Natural Materials
From wood to fabrics, natural materials play an important role in the overall design of the modern Farmhouse. You will find wood floors, exposed beams, barn board for wall paneling, and butcher block for kitchen island countertops. There is also an emphasis on natural fibers – cotton, canvas, leather, wool, linen, rattan, and wicker.
Experts recommend using a variety of textures to give the look some depth, so don’t be afraid to mix woods and metal – and mix and match your fabrics, too.
This spectacular kitchen in a charming two-story contemporary take on the Farmhouse style features a variety of decor accents in natural materials. Let’s start with the wood floors, then the exposed timber beams, white wood cabinets, rattan and wicker chairs, and fabric throw pillows. The spacious home has three bedrooms, 3.5 baths, and plenty of square footage for a 529-square-foot in-law suite on the main level (Plan #106-1324).
6. Industrial Accents
Take your style up a notch by mixing the natural woods and fabrics with modern industrial accents. In the kitchen, for example, it's a good design decision to replace the usual porcelain apron sink with a stainless steel or copper one. How about a few sleek and eye-catching lighting fixtures like pendant lights in modern steel or iron? You could also use polished concrete for the countertops and/or floors.
This dazzling kitchen of an attractive one-story Contemporary Farmhouse style home gives a wonderful illustration of mixing and matching natural wood and fabric accents with modern touches: stainless-steel appliances – sink, dishwasher, wall oven, refrigerator – and hanging lights over the dining table. The home has three bedrooms, 2.5 baths, a family room, a dining area, and a main kitchen, all in an open floor plan (Plan #142-1233).
Here are a few tips when designing your modern Farmhouse:
Minimalism rules. Create a cozy, relaxing, and uncluttered room or rooms with just a few well-placed furniture and accent pieces.
Choose furnishings and accessories that are welcoming and practical. You and your guests should walk into the space and be able to kick off your shoes and relax. Your furniture should not be like the precious china and dinnerware that you only use on special occasions.
A pop of color can add to the ambiance of the space. But stick to the predominantly neutral palette of the Modern Farmhouse look for the overall decor.
Whether you are a stickler for the cozy and homey classic farmhouse or prefer the clean and elegant lines of the modern version, you can't go wrong with the Farmhouse architectural style!