I will never tire of the farmhouse aesthetic. There is something so effortless, casual and modest about it. It is comfortable and has a certain depth that is ultra-charming. In my years as a designer I’ve developed an eye for this style, and I believe I have a good sense of what make for a great farmhouse kitchen and how to nail it (pun intended). I’m excited to share with you what I believe are the necessities for achieving this look!
1. Farmhouse sink
This one is a given, but it wouldn’t be a farmhouse without this style of sink. Farmhouse sinks (or apron-front sinks) evolved from sink basins that were filled manually with water from the nearest lake or bay. They were not attached to any plumbing system and instead were set forward in the countertop (with the one side exposed) so that women could access the basin more easily. Today’s farmhouse sinks come in a variety of styles, colors and materials to fit your overall kitchen design.
2. Trim and woodwork
Pay attention to the trim work! This element of the farmhouse kitchen is one of the more important, in my opinion. Farmhouse kitchens typically have crown molding around the cabinetry, as well as baseboards, old corbels and little trim accents in the base cabinet toe kicks. Farmhouses commonly had wood walls so adding beadboard or wall paneling such as shiplap can help achieve the look (even just lining the back of an open cabinet with beadboard makes a difference). Beams are typically exposed in farmhouses, so see it you can incorporate beams either as posts or in the ceiling for a similar feel.
3. Wooden knobs and painted interior cabinets
My absolute favorite element of farmhouse kitchens are wooden cabinet knobs and pulls. This is a super-fast and easy design element you can incorporate in your kitchen, and I don’t see this option adopted enough. Another way to add a punch to your cabinetry is by painting the cabinet interiors a contrasting color. It could be a subtle neutral but the difference in tone adds depth and character. Having open shelving is also super helpful as it allows you to display decor or china that further communicates the farm style.
4. Old decor
This may sound obvious but the difference between attempting a farmhouse look and nailing a farmhouse look is the authenticity of the decor. It’s easy to buy something new that’s made to look old, but that’s missing the mark. Hit up your local second-hand stores, flea markets or antique shops to seek out the real deal—you never know what you might discover!
Here’s a list of items to source for your farmhouse kitchen that are more authentic to me:
- Tin lighting (flea markets have great authentic lighting!)
- Old jars
- Wooden or tin signs
- Enamel mugs
- Blue and white china
And bring some greenery in by decorating with garden botanicals. Think wild child!
5. Hardwood floors
I rarely see a farmhouse kitchen with any floor other than wood, and it would be my number one suggestion. You can stain wood planks or paint them. I have even seen DIY plywood painted planks, which I’m excited to convince one of my clients to try. Whatever wood you choose, nail the planks down and leave those nails exposed. Nothing screams farmhouse more than exposed nails—you can feel the labor of love in those little pieces of steel. (And if you prefer tile, thankfully there are plenty of tile options out there that mimic wood flooring so you can still get that farmhouse look—no exposed nails, though.)
Ashley Freeman is a Toronto-based interior designer who leads her design firm to capture the fullness and richness of life through materials and finishes. See her featured on Apartment Therapy, the Contemporist and Umbra.