Achieving a Farmhouse Decorating Style

Posted by on 5/15/2018
In my late 50's now, it almost seems like "country" style decorating has come back with a new label called "farmhouse". But truly, there is a big difference.

The country style decorating popular in the 1980's was all about cutesy clutter and little crafts made to look old. Craftsmen had their heyday then churning out handmade primitive dolls and bins engraved with "taters" and "unyuns". Checked curtains and anything in hunter green, wedgewood blue or mauve was very trendy. Slightly later in the era we all fell in love with ruffled curtains. Done right the look was warm and comfortable, but it was so easy to overdo it and the room just felt corny. 

I think the farmhouse style reaches in and makes my soul happy. It's all about the REAL vintage items, especially paired with simple and timeless furnishings and accessories.  Avoid more than 1 or 2 reproduction "farmhouse" decor items, choosing instead to enjoy the hunt for something old and real that you can treasure and enjoy. While I understand the lure of faux aged furniture or old furniture that's faux finished to look chippy, it can look too contrived... as if you've tried too hard. I find no shortage of naturally aged finishes in my own travels so again, buy something truly old that you really love now and chances are you'll love it for many years.

Pair old things with new things for a unique look. We have a durable "new" leather couch and chair in the family room but when you throw an old quilt on the arm and toss on a couple of comfy pillows, the new leather becomes warm and friendly. This is the very essence of farmhouse style - practical furnishings that could withstand use by kids and farmhands. Our family room also includes my husband's grandmother's old travel trunk where we stash away extra blankets and pillows in case we or the visiting grandkids need to snuggle in for a movie or a nap. 

Farmhouse style disdains clutter. I erroneously tend to keep to many things in a room and have to challenge myself regularly to declutter. Try and find some old wood boxes, baskets or even glass or ceramic containers to corral things into, grouping them into one place to look organized yet visually interesting vignette of ordinary things.

My own farmhouse style extends to the bedrooms as well. In the whole of my adulthood I've never found the perfect bedroom suite to fit my taste, so the furniture is all antiques and hand-me-downs, ahem, inherited pieces. My taste in bedrooms peeks in at shabby chic, but that's often so frilly that it makes me self-conscious for loving chintz and ruffles and lace, and dainty little porcelain decorative items. So I force myself to subdue this side of myself and am content with a focus on white bedding in all the bedrooms most of the time. If we have a male guest staying over he won't feel uncomfortable in an overly girly room if I can make myself keep it simple. And by focusing on white bedding, I can mix and match things to change them up for myself or throw in a colorful quilt or accent item when the mood strikes me. In winter I use white quilts and down comforters in abundance because I keep the  house on the chilly side, and in summer I change over to white cotton bedspreads and thin coverlets. Comfortable white sheets accented with vintage embroidered pillowcases here and there are my idea of a room that makes guests feel special - comfortable and welcome. 

Nowhere does a farmhouse style dominate more than in my kitchen. We actually live on a small farm, raising our own veggies and chickens, and I appreciate having old kitchen gadgets, cookware and dishes. I am comfortable mixing stainless steel appliances with painted cabinets and old cast iron, and in fact cook virtually every meal in old cast iron pans. I can our produce with old canning pots and regularly use my antique mashers, hand spun mixers and the like. We have a farmhouse table made from old cherry floor boards - which you see in many of the tablecloths we have for sale - and I collect white dishes. I've got dollar store dishes as well as elegant antique white china, and I mix them up to make meals fun. For myself, I collect tailored white linen napkins and any old linens with chickens on them; if you're good enough to sit at my kitchen table then you're good enough to be treated to a crisp white linen napkin. There are stacks of them ironed and folded in the drawers of my kitschy sideboard, always at the ready.

I still seek out frilly little prissy ceramic pieces and justify having them by saying how cute they'll look in pictures of my linens. So I have them just for that purpose <wink> and will enthusiastically pull them out for you to oggle over if you happen to stop by. When my collection becomes too vast for me to easily hide them away then you'll probably find some of them listed here for sale. But not yet, I still haven't finished playing with all of them yet.