Largely defined by its geography, functionality and simplicity, the farmhouse style, both in the United States and abroad, is much emulated today — often as an amalgam of other rustically rooted ones, such as cottage, French country and industrial.
Early American homesteads are now emblematic of simpler times, when families strove to make their way with very little, subsisting off their own land and relying on nearby resources. Living as cozily as possible — and always within one’s means — was paramount. Colonial-era homes and furniture were usually crafted by hand (architects were for the wealthy) and only with readily available woods and other local materials. Furniture, in particular, was built to last — hence so many solid 18th-century farm tables in today’s antiques stores.
In the traditional farmhouse, everything had a purpose. Quilts were for warmth and weathervanes for telling the direction of the wind — no matter how pretty they looked. Perhaps as a function of necessity, the farmhouse look embraces items from disparate eras. Back in the day, families routinely passed down their handmade furniture and decorative items for future generations to enjoy.
It’s nearly impossible not to be inspired by this bucolic genre’s implied sense of place and and warm informality. Read on for our top furniture, lighting and decorative picks that celebrate the beautiful simplicity of the farmhouse style.
Farmhouse Mood Board
1. Straw sun hat, 1940s. 2. Buck-horn plaque, 1963–64. 3. Brazilian hardwood mill wheel, 1960s. 4. J.F. Schreiber, Esslingen and Munich educational chart, 1893. 5. Grace Grierson Anderson Irish petite-point sampler, 1882. 6. Gooseneck workshop lamp, 1900–9. 7. Midwestern American goat feeder, 1940s. 8. Kaare Klint model 4118 sofa, 1930s. 9. Pennsylvanian pantry box, 1870–80. 10. American fish market sign, turn of the century. 11. French primitive stools, 1950s. 12. American braided rag rug, ca. 1900. 13. Bavarian dragon-head beam, ca. 1880. 14. Americana desk, 1870s. 15. French country fauteuil, ca. 1830s. 16. Spongeware pitcher, 1880–90. 17. Norwegian farmhouse table, early 18th century. 18. Folk art weathervane, ca. 1880. 19. Industrial pendant lamp, 1950s.
Farmhouse Interior Inspiration
This lovely open-plan kitchen and living area by Matt Blacke, Inc. makes for great conversations by the fire. The space is a 21st-century Californian update of something you’d see inside a Colonial-era homestead.