If you haven’t been living under a rock in the past few years, you’ve probably heard of “farmhouse style.” It’s one of the most popular design styles lately, especially since Joanna Gaines and her show, Fixer Upper, became a sensation. So you’ve probably heard of it, you’ve likely seen it, and you may even love it. Or you could be kinda like me in the beginning of it all and wonder, Well, I like it and I’m pretty sure that’s my style but what exactly does “farmhouse style” mean?
The term “farmhouse style” generally encompasses a lot of different design styles. For instance, there’s rustic farmhouse, cottage farmhouse, modern farmhouse, vintage farmhouse, boho farmhouse, french farmhouse, industrial farmhouse and ranch farmhouse, to name a few. All of these different descriptions of farmhouse decor can be really confusing!
What is the difference in styles?
Here’s a (very basic) breakdown to help you figure it all out:
- Rustic farmhouse includes elements like rustic, unstained wood, and a lot of cream/beige/brown colors. The furniture is usually pretty no-frills, straight lines and natural wood tones. Much of the decor is simple and minimalistic.
- Cottage farmhouse is a little eclectic with some frills, florals and lace, grays or cream colors and some pops of bright colors, usually in furniture. The furniture tends to lean toward the feminine side and is usually very plush. Decor is also pretty feminine and you may see a lot of garden themed items.
- Modern farmhouse features a lot of bright white with contrast of darker colors, like black or navy. It also features dark baskets, dark stained woods, wreaths, shiplap and maybe touches of more modern fixtures or decor elements.
- Vintage farmhouse displays a lot of vintage or antique farm-centric furniture and decor. It also includes more warm-toned, natural woods, and perhaps some farm life art.
- French farmhouse (or French country) involves a lot of cool tones (grays, whites, sometimes pastels) and soft natural fabrics (linens, cotton). The furniture is a little more feminine with curved or turned legs. Often the furniture is painted and/or distressed. You may also see old distressed frames, old books, and fresh flowers.
- Ranch farmhouse features a lot of ranch life decor, like corrugated tin or old metal features. There’ll probably be something to do with horses or a stuffed animal or animal head on the wall. Windmills, saddles, barn doors and warm, earth-toned colors typically dominate this space.
You can see from these descriptions that one of the things each specific style has in common is a love of light or neutral colors. Some styles gravitate toward warmer tones (beige, yellow) while some lean toward the cool tones (gray, blue). But most of the colors are light and airy and (mostly) neutral.
When I started getting more into design, I didn’t really know what to call my style. I knew what I liked when I saw it, but putting a name to it was a whole other matter. Eventually, as I started to learn the nuances in the many different styles I was seeing, I started identifying my style as basically a cross between modern farmhouse and French country farmhouse, with a slight lean toward French country. Figuring out exactly what my preferred style was really helped me to focus on putting together spaces that were cohesive and intentional, which is key in a well designed space.
Choose Your Paint First
One of the first choices you have to make when designing a room is your paint color. Choosing a paint color can be a tough job. There are literally millions of colors out there, so finding the right one for a specific style can be overwhelming. Sometimes you just need a little help finding those diamond-in-the-rough colors; that special color that will make your space feel perfectly put together. Well, you’re in luck, because I’ve put together a guide for all of my favorite paint colors that have become the basis for my French country farmhouse style.
In my home, my go-to colors include Repose Gray, Silver Sage, Simply White and Gray Owl. All of these colors are extremely versatile and look lovely in just about any light. I love to accent (doors, walls or furniture) with darker colors like Hale Navy and Wrought Iron. And my daughter’s room will be painted in Joanna Gaines’ Antique Rose. I typically don’t use many warm tones like beige or yellow in my decor. I jokingly call my style “50 shades of gray” because gray is definitely the dominant color on my walls. But I do throw in a good deal of blues and some greens (right now my master bedroom is painted Livable Green and I’m kinda digging it).
I hope this paint guide can help you get started with finding your perfect shades for your farmhouse space. I know a lot of people struggle with picking a paint color because they want to pick the “right” one. Listen, paint is SUPER EASY to change. If you love a color or two, get a few samples, throw them up on the wall (the colors will change in the light so you always have to test them out first) and see which one strikes your fancy. Once you’ve picked your fave, paint your room and enjoy the space! If you decide you want something different a few months down the road, paint the space again! Painting is truly the easiest and cheapest way to dramatically change the look and feel of a space, so don’t be afraid to try something different or new.
BONUS! To get you started on your room transformations, here is a list of my favorite tools for painting a room. I use these tools each and every time I paint and they make the process super easy:
9 Essential Tools for Painting Your Room
This post contains affiliate links. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. You can read my full disclosure policy here.
Paint Rollers. There are soooo many brands of rollers out there. My favorites are Wooster followed by Purdy. Pay attention to the nap length; there are different naps for different types of walls (textured vs. smooth).
Ladders. I usually use two ladders when I’m painting. One is a large, adjustable height ladder like this one. I use this for the higher parts of the wall, ceilings and upper trim work. Then I use a simple foldable step ladder like this one. I’ll use this for everything else that may be just out of my reach.
Roller and Brush Covers. I can’t live without these roller and brush covers. When I have to take a break in my painting but I still have work to do, I just pop these babies on and cover my paint pail. I have had my rollers and brushes stay nice and wet in these covers for over a week!
Handheld Paint Pail. I love this paint pail! The first thing I do when I begin to paint is pour this pail halfway full of paint. Then I use my Wooster brush and start doing all my cutting in. This pail makes it so easy to carry my paint around without having to lug around a giant metal paint can or going up and down the ladder a billion times to refill my paint brush. Don’t forget to buy the plastic inserts for easy clean-up!