Everything you Need to Know to Create the Perfect Modern Farmhouse Interior Design


White Contemporary living room

SOURCE: Studio McGee



If you’re keeping up you’ll have read the posts on creating a traditional, contemporary and coastal design already. It’s time for the most popular design trend of our day – modern farmhouse design.

Since you’re here I’m assuming you’re a design lover. If that’s true you are very well acquainted with the name Joanna Gaines. She’s the host of Fixer Upper who is credited with bringing this design style to the mainstream. Together with Studio McGee, they created a design epidemic that has been going strong for both interiors and exteriors for close to a decade. 

It’s essentially a combination of contemporary mixed together with traditional farmhouse and a hint of Scandinavian style designs. It’s like a cleaned up version of a rustic country home but it’s also quite minimal. There are a couple of defining characteristics that make this style so unique. 

The first is the use of black and white. It’s the predominant colour scheme with a lot of homes also incorporating black windows. 

The second is that there’s a sprinkling of antiques and architectural salvage used in the designs. You really want to embrace imperfection in the pieces you purchase or include in this design. These pieces should feel old and special.

What else makes up modern farmhouse design? Let’s dig in and explore!




The Colour Palette


The palette is very limited but it uses high contrast neutrals. Usually it’s relying on a base of cream or white paired up with black and caramel or tan. Almost always the walls are painted in the neutral white or cream. Kitchen cabinetry is either white or light oak although if you have an open concept home don’t be afraid to add a deeper colour to the cabinetry. 

Once you have your foundation colours set you can start to add in a bit of bold colour for effect. Once in a while we see oranges and reds thrown in but generally this is an interior design style that sticks with the basics.

beige living room with black contemporary light fixture

SOURCE: Jenna Kate at Home


The Furniture

The lines on furniture are generally contemporary, straight and simple on all pieces. Upholstery is comfortable but unfussy. Just like with coastal design, this is all about comfort and lounging. If you have the space go for deeper sofas and chairs that invite you to pull your feet up and curl up.

Colours for furniture tend to be neutral but can include black for smaller upholstered pieces. There’s also a lot of leather in a caramel or tan colour. There’s definitely a nod to mid-century design in the modern farmhouse style, especially with the caramel leather and wood framed chairs we see so often. 

Case goods are light to medium wood tones and use a ton of texture. There are always some antique or salvage pieces thrown in for interest. Don’t go overboard with these pieces. The best way to deal with your antiques or salvage is buy something you really love but preferably something that isn’t a main focal point. You don’t want to create an eclectic look so balance and refinement are important. 

gray contemporary sofa with bold artwork

SOURCE: Studio McGee



The Fabric 

Upholstery is simple and uses natural textiles like wool and linen, stuffed with feathers and down. If you have little kids make sure you invest in a good fabric that has some stain resistance built in. Kids and white don’t always cohabitate well.

Stick with neutrals for the large pieces and add in a variety of patterns. The most common fabrics, aside from plain, are checks and stripes as well as ethnic inspired motifs. You want the fabrics to look collected and casual and not like you just filled your car with pillows at HomeSense. 

Adding in lots of texture with the fabric is super important. Look for nubbly textures, shaggy fur and you can even toss in some velvet to keep everything looking sophisticated.

There are a few styles to pick from for rugs. If you love subtle you can use wool, jute or sisal to give a ton of texture to the design. If you want a bit of pattern you’re going to again, look for tribal inspired patterns. 

Contemporary living room with oversized black light fixture

SOURCE: Mindy Gayer


The Architecture 

This is all about a combining of two styles – contemporary with farmhouse which then gives a lived in but modern feel. There are subtle nods to rustic farm living to keep this design style from being too contemporary. 

What really differentiates this style from contemporary is the careful use of textured elements like wood beams, lime washed timbers or a feature wall of wood planks. The word shiplap was foreign to most people who aren’t in the construction industry until modern farmhouse design infiltrated our lexicon. Now it’s mainstream and living through a crisis of overconsumption at the moment.  

Another super common feature of modern farmhouse design is exposed rafters. For most of us it’s not possible to accomplish this look using original architecture but even the smoothed out and obviously new beams help to define the high ceilings that are common to this look.

If there was one feature that I think will identify the architecture of this style more than any other it’s black windows. Before the rise in popularity of this style we almost never saw a home installing black window frames. Even more pronounced is the use of the multiple grids in a very thin profile that we only ever saw on factory windows. 

Unless you’re building your home you don’t really get to decide on the layout. If you’re just buying or you’ll be building soon, know that modern farmhouse style tends to be open concept with bedrooms either at the perimeter or on a 2nd storey. 

This style is all about family living so the living room, family room, dining and kitchen flow from one to the other seamlessly. If you’ve never lived in an open concept home you need to know that it requires more cleaning time than a home with a traditional layout. There’s nowhere to hide toys or other clutter. You’ll probably be doing a sweep of the house several times a day tidying as you go. 

Contemporary living room

SOURCE: Luxe Interiors + Design


I do have a caution to add to this post. Just like anything else that is considered a trend, at some point it will be replaced with the next trend and will essentially date stamp your home. Unless you know that you can live with this style for a very long time, go cautiously into it. This is particularly true if you’re about to undertake a new build. It’s always better to stick with something classic when building.


What’s your favourite design style and how do you feel about the modern farmhouse design?

Need help creating your own Coastal design? I’d love to discuss your project. Reach out and let’s talk.


If you know your design style but you struggle with which paint to use, take a look at my Made-For-You paint palettes. They take the guesswork out and give you the confidence to get started.


Benjamin Moore Modern Farmhouse Paint Colour Palettes for the home

Unlock your unique design style

Take the design style quiz



Success! Please check your inbox for your 3 Easy Steps.