What Is Farmhouse Style? And A Checklist!

March 13, 2020

Decorating your home with farmhouse style doesn't have to be difficult or expensive. If you have the right farmhouse decor elements you can achieve a perfectly fresh farmhouse vibe for any room in your home. Today I'm sharing all you really need to know about farmhouse style, and how to do it on a budget.

Farmhouse Decor 101

Today the words "farmhouse style" mean one thing. It's referring to none other than the farmhouse decor movement that's been sweeping the nation since Chip and Joanna Gaines brought it front and center as early as 2013. If you've been wondering what exactly qualifies as farmhouse style decor I'm here to help you out.

French farmhouse living room budget thrifted estate sale decor

I've already shared my French Farmhouse Style Living Room, as well as a number of other farmhouse style-related projects:

farmhouse shelves fall decor tobacco basket pumpkins boxwood wreaths buffet vintage scale corbels

farmhouse sign rustic vintage corbel shelf

mirror white painted basket fau flowers farmhouse beads

 white painted side table French provincial

And that's just a sampling of some of my farmhouse-related posts! But today I want to address a more singular topic:

So What IS Farmhouse Style, Anyway? 

Farmhouse style is relaxed, cozy and warm. Farmhouse style is rustic. Farmhouse style is reclaimed barn wood, weathered finishes, shiplap, wide planked floors, neutral textiles and natural elements.

Looking back on my own decorating style over the years, I've made the realization that what was once called "country style" decorating somehow morphed into "farmhouse style" decorating. I'm a living, breathing, unapologetic result of that transformation.

I used to be a fan of large floral print textiles, framed quilt squares, real-world equestrian pieces like riding boots and helmets, darker wood pieces, Longaberger baskets, toile, and more. There was nothing, and I mean nothing, with even a hint of modern style in my home. Today I look at pictures of my decorating style from 15 years ago and can't believe where I was on the interior design style spectrum.  

 French Farmhouse Style Versus Modern Farmhouse Style

Then, slowly but surely, my style changed. While I admit I've gravitated more toward French farmhouse style, I've also incorporated modern farmhouse style into my home as well. As for French farmhouse, it tends to be more feminine and elegant, yet somehow still casual. For me that means ornate, gilded mirrors, chandeliers, large floral arrangements and chippy, shabby vintage!  

I've seen a number of definitions for modern farmhouse style, however, I believe it's really rather simple: modern farmhouse style is any combination of traditional farmhouse style and whatever modern decorating elements you might gravitate toward. For me that's industrial pieces including galvanized decor elements, sleeker lighting options, and midcentury modern wood pieces.

Midcentury modern furniture is not my favorite (the pieces were handed down to us) but for the time being I see them as welcome additions to the otherwise more traditional and/or French farmhouse decor style I've got going on around here. To be fair, I have my hopes set on finding a thrifted vintage French provincial dresser or buffet that I can paint and use as the focal piece in my foyer (to replace a midcentury modern tambour two-door cabinet). I've already moved the midcentury modern china cabinet down to the basement and replaced it with two painted farmhouse floor to ceiling cabinets and farmhouse shelves.             

Farmhouse Decor Elements In My Home

I've chosen to use a vignette from one of my DIY French farmhouse shelves as a jumping off point to share some real-life farmhouse elements in my own home.

vintage farmhouse cathedral arch farmhouse scale ironstone soup tureens

My DIY rustic corbel French farmhouse shelf hangs above a midcentry modern buffet in the dining room.

vintage ironstone creamers catheral arch pitchers

Architectural elements, like this chippy, shabby chic cathedral arch, is a staple farmhouse decor element, as is the addition of a realistic, simple faux green wreath. Peeking out from the left is a faux spray of colorful wildflowers in an ironstone pitcher vase.

vintage round cutting board thrift store kitchen ironstone pitcher

Using vintage wooden cutting boards is a simple and inexpensive way to add some farmhouse flair to any room. They add a sense of rusticity and warmth. And they can be picked up for a song at thrift stores, which is where I got all of mine. The lavender floral bunch is from Dollar Tree.
ironstone pitcher wooden utensil spoons cutting boards

You can create visual contrast by using different sized and different colored boards. Wooden spoons and other wooden kitchen utensils also add warmth. I got mine at Dollar Tree.

farmhouse decor cathedral arch pitcher creamer wreath lavender

Now, to address the elephant in the room: ironstone! Those of you who know me know that I collect vintage ironstone and unabashedly love every piece collected. I own pitchers large and small, creamers, sugar bowls and my favorites -- soup tureens! You can also pick these pieces up at thrift stores and estate sales for fairly low prices.

farmhouse scale olive buckets farmhouse sign wooden farmhouse beads cutting board

Industrial elements like these faux olive buckets and this reproduction metal farmhouse scale work well together, especially when softened with faux greens and a wooden farmhouse bead garland.
olive bucket planter farmhouse bead garland

vintage thrift store ironstone soup tureens

Aaaahhh and here's the piece de resistance -- a vintage soup tureen! You can read about it in Thrill of the Hunt #98 where I explain where I got it and what it cost. Tureens come in all shapes and sizes, as well as patterns. I just happen to gravitate toward the all-white styles.

Some Traditional Farmhouse Elements -- A Checklist

*(Not an exhaustive list, just some suggestions)*

  • ironstone
  • architectural elements
  • greens and/or floral displays, fresh or faux
  • bottles used alone as display, or as vases
  • boxwood wreaths
  • live plants 
  • weathered terra cotta planters
  • wire cloches
  • vintage artwork
  • tobacco baskets (these can also be decorated for fall or Christmas)
  •  white furniture slipcovers
  • milk glass
  • depression glass
  • shiplap
  • elements from nature (real or faux) like pine cones, acorns, lemons or any type of fruit 
  • burlap
  • olive stems
  • olive buckets

While I'm certainly no expert on farmhouse style, I do love sharing how I decorate my home on a budget regardless of any specific style. Sometimes I use a treasured find in my decor simply because I love it. And that's the way it should be.  

So how do You define farmhouse style?

Well, that's it until next time, friends! 

I hope you enjoyed reading 
What Is Farmhouse Style?
And A Checklist!

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Leave a Comment!


Such beautiful Farmhouse vignettes my friend, specially those adorable white stoneware and the tureen.
Have a lovely and safe weekend.

My thrift store addiction said...

Great tips, Kathleen!

Pamela ~ DIY vibes said...

Great tips and checklist. I was casually traditional 15 years ago and slid over to transitional but the past few years I've been adding modern farmhouse into my decor and love it. It's fresh and timeless. I love your cutting board finds! Gorgeous!

Kathy said...

Great checklist! I think I am more French country romantic in my thinking but not actual styling--yet. I do love components of your list, for sure! I'm rather glad we didn't have money when I was first married in '73 or I'd probably still be living with dark Mediteranean furniture and crushed velvet!

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