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What about modern farmhouse decorating?

Does Modern Farmhouse truly reflect the farmhouse lifestyle?

Modern farmhouse

I enjoy looking at pictures of houses decorated in the Modern Farmhouse theme. They’re pretty. Airy. Inspiring. And SO WHITE. And actually, as I’ve looked at many photos featuring this decoration style, I find many that look pretty cozy, which for me is essential!

Some aspects seem almost sterile, and other looks in the modern farmhouse theme boast of feeling Down to Earth, which is more up my alley.

From creamy white cabinets, to sliding barn door furniture,, rustic-looking candles, and modern takes on rustic light fixtures, the modern farmhouse theme has taken over Pinterest. Everyone wants rustic, yet modern! I will have to say that I really like some of the farmhouse furniture, even though we tend more towards a traditional feel!

Modern farmhouse

Authentic Farmhouse or Modern Farmhouse?

But I had grandparents who were truly farmers, and they owned a farmhouse. On the North Dakota prairie. Let me tell you, there was no “decorating theme” in their house. The farmhouse was a tool to serve the purpose of housing a family. And that family knew how to work! They had to! Their livelihoods depended on everyone pitching in!


North Dakota farm

Here is a collection of real farmhouses from North Dakota around the time of the Great Depression

To read more about the recent trend toward Farmhouse living, I recommend the book, Farmhouse. This book chronicles the history of the farmhouse, as well as the late interest in the farmhouse look. I believe there is something inside many of us that just craves the simple times from the past, and so we reach for it in whatever way we can. Like decorating. But Farmhouse living is so much bigger than mason jars and barn doors!

Grandma and Grandpa’s Farmhouse

I dare say that not much in our grandparents’ farmhouse was white. Too hard to keep looking clean! I remember a large kitchen, a big dining table, and Grandma’s teapots.


I remember a lot of noise and so many people.

The big wood stove that all the brothers knew how to fire up til it roared!

Wood stove

What I remember best from Grandma and Grandpa’s farmhouse, oddly, was the laundry chute! Why I thought that hole in the wall leading to the basement was so cool I don’t know, but I do know that my brother and I had a fascination with that! We’d sometimes drop our pajamas in from upstairs and rush down the steep stairs to the basement just to verify that they’d landed near the washer. I’d still like to have my own! I can’t promise that we didn’t jump through that chute a time or two!

Laundry chute

Did Grandma and Grandpa have a Modern Farmhouse?

Grandma’s farmhouse was modern–for her time. It had electricity and running water, but I assume no heat besides the wood stove. I do remember feeling chilly sometimes, but in North Dakota, you kind of get used to feeling cold.

North Dakota winter
North Dakota winters can be harsh!

The Dakotas are known for COLD!

North Dakota winter

What I don’t remember in Grandma’s authentic “modern” farmhouse:

  • The color of the curtains. Were they all Buffalo plaid? I don’t think so! Maybe a mix of calico prints.
  • Nowadays, we expect every piece of furnishing to match like the Pinterest pictures we see, but in a working farmhouse, the furnishings were mostly more laid back. Pretty, but practical.

Honestly, these days, we over decorate so much to make it look like way back when, when in the olden days, things were just more simple. People were busy living, not decorating!

I also don’t remember:

  • White walls and dishes, or pumpkins painted white. Grandma had special dishes for holidays, and real chinaware. But the everyday dishes were sturdy and sometimes even mismatched.

Vintage homestead dinnerware

  • Unnecessary decorations. Grandma liked pretty things, hence her teapot collection. (And all the daughters and granddaughters inherited one when she died) But the decorations did not change with the seasons, as they do now, I believe because of Pinterest and social media, we now have a way to peer into others’ homes without leaving ours, giving us plenty of opportunity for coveting and an endless endeavor to keep up!
Brown teapot
Grandma had this teapot, and my mom inherited it.
  • Words on the walls, that said Gather, Eat, Pantry, or anything! Don’t get me wrong–nothing is wrong with these signs! They do evoke a welcoming atmosphere. I’m just observing that they may not be the way real farmhouses “decorated”. Instead, I envision baskets of vegetables, bundles of herbs drying (ok–I don’t think I ever saw that) and a crocheting basket ready to grab bedside the rocking chair.

Grandma decorated with memories

What Grandma hung on her modern farmhouse walls were pictures of the family. Grandkids. Group photos. The Russian man and woman praying. She was proud of her kids, her grand babies, and her God!

Praying man and woman
Hung on my grandparents’ wall. Now on Mom and Dad’s wall.

Big, comfortable, brown fuzzy chairs with hobnail trim.

Relatives Talking–we have a big, outspoken family!

Tractor seat stools in the garden. Tractor seat stool

Farm equipment all around that got used.

Is a Modern Farmhouse for Farmers?

I get that the “modern farmhouse” idea is that it’s a new take on something old. So, for that reason, it has the right to be whatever it wants to be. I just scratch my head at the name that includes farmhouse with decorations that don’t reflect much about the way that actual farmers lived.

Kids in washtub
Wash tubs were for washing!!

The modern farmhouse decor that I see looks more staged. Like nobody really lives there who does physical work. There’s no way that a working man could sit on those white sofas and them remain white!

Tired working man
A working man gets tired and dirty!!

When a working man comes in, his trousers are dirty, and he may have hay or sawdust filling his boots! He wants a comfortable chair and a place to prop his feet up!

North Dakota farm family
North Dakota farming family

We have friends who farm for a living. Their house is neat and comfortable, but lived in. Blankets and rocking chairs, barn wood and mason jars. They use what they produce and produce what they use.

I don’t know if they have everything matching, but they have a huge kitchen and an overflowing pantry.

A farmhouse is for working people!

An authentic farmhouse a sterile, tool-free environment that appears like people should be lounging and reading instead of rubbing sore muscles and cleaning dirt from fingernails!Ridge Haven Homestead

My Crazy Russian Grandma and Grandpa!

A farmhouse is for canning, preserving, drying, and tending the animals! It’s for nurturing people who do those things!

That said, I have no beef against the decor of the modern farmhouse style. I find it lovely to look at. It’s just a bit of an oxymoron in my mind, nonetheless. To me, farmhouse will always mean “farming people live here”.

Ridge Haven Homestead
My grandma, aunt and my dad as the cutest little guy!

Just as a personal preference, when we set up our cabin, (and we’re not really farmers) I won’t be using the modern farmhouse theme, but I do hope to use some hints at the authentic farmhouse lifestyle.

To be honest, I don’t have a style. I like an eclectic mix of this and that, and have a hard time settling into one precise color scheme or style. I enjoy handmade things.

Rustic home picture

And let’s face it: our world has changed. We can remember the past with nostalgia, but the reason we will never truly achieve an authentic farmhouse today is because 1) we aren’t farmers, and 2) we are so rich.

Our grandparents’ homes looked like they did out of necessity. They used homespun, not because it was trendy, but because there was no Walmart down the road.

Special decorations meant something. The quilt on the bed, or the afghan on the chair represented a whole lot of time and love. A canning jar vase of flowers was for practicality–they used what they had.

Rustic farmhouse decor

Even though I cannot achieve fully the look and feel of a bygone era, I can use and treasure bits from the past that go against the mass produced, matchy-matchy decorations that would make my house look like everyone else’s!

Let’s have some personality in our houses!

Vintage Farmhouse

Be yourself!

Don’t worry about making your home look like everyone else’s!

If you like the farmhouse feel, then find some genuine items that remind you of that hard workers who did live the farming life.

Modern farmhouse bedroom
If you choose modern Farmhouse, tweak it to fit your family!!

A few farmhouse things we will do:

  • Vintage aprons like Grandma’s will find a place on my kitchen wall.
  • Rocking chairs will be outfitted with comfortable cushions that may or may not match! We will add splashes of color with cheery throw pillows . We will have soft blankets to snuggle under and real quilts on our beds.

Rocking chair

I wish I’d have kept more afghans that my Grandmas made! Some things can only be appreciated looking back on.

  • I will probably hang some Buffalo plaid curtains, and toss a few checkered pillows around, and they may even be black and white! 😉
  • I will use a real farmhouse sink!
  • Exposed beams? Yep!
  • We will use our pantry, not just decorate it.

Related: Vintage Kitchen Dreaming

Pretty pantry

Is Farmhouse for you?

If all of this sounds a little cynical, I don’t mean for it to! Every person has a right to arrange their abode to suit their family.

For ours, comfort trumps Pinterest-perfect.

We favor function over the frivolous!

But I see no reason why we can’t have both pretty and practical!

Amish farmhouse
From an Amish farmhouse


How does your home look?

Is it a perfectly-matched, color coordinated, and peaceful paradise?

Is it sturdy yet serviceable with touches of beauty in unexpected places?

Or is your home modern, sleek, and polished?

Are you Modern Farmhouse, Authentic Farmhouse, no farmhouse, or somewhere in between?

Modern farmhouse

Tell me what kind of Haven you call home!

15 Replies

  1. I have too many dogs to ever consider white and like the lanky man sleeping on the couch we get really dirty. Leather couches for us! In the old days they did have needlework with sayings framed for the walls.I scoop those up at garage sales. Being on even a tiny working piece of land you have to get used to clutter and dirt in the kitchen but to me it feels so homey and full of bounty! I enjoyed this a lot.

    1. I hear you!
      I don’t even allow white hand towels. What’s the point? We work on the dirt!
      The tall lanky man sleeping is my husband, and he runs his own tree business. Let’s just say, sawdust is a way of life.

      Yes!! I do love needlework! Much of it is from the Bible! I used to cross stitch. Then I had kids.

      Glad you stopped in!


        1. Yes, they do, but both grow so quickly that we have to remember to realize that they ARE part of life, not something getting in the way of what we think life should like! Life is messy! That’s what makes for good memories!

  2. Unfortunately I live in an apartment. But I love farmhouse decor greatly. I have some farmhouse decor that I switch out seasonally. Thank you for sharing this lovely article. I love your insights. Blessings.

  3. What caught my attention was the picture of the kids in the washtub. I can remember my mom bathing my brother and I in that kind of tub when we were little. I’m 70 now. My mom was first generation Polish and grew up during the Depression. She turned shirt collars and sheets to double their wear. She bought gathered skirts for .10 at rummage sales and made 2 pillowcases from them. It took me 25 years to wear out 2 flour bag floral pillowcases she made for me! She canned veggies from our small garden and we 2 kids helped with the chores. I find the new Farmhouse look much too sterile and wonder if someone could do surgery on those kitchen counters and islands! I love color, clutter, sentimental stuff, and home cooking. What you won’t hear me echoing is my mother’s, “That’s a good dirt color”; she had a wringer washer, a clothesline, and a mangle. If it’s a light color for me, it gets popped into the automatic!

  4. I think the modern day look is far reaching to achieve the authentic look. The laundry chute is cool though, my daughter has one in her new home, drops straight to the laundry room! Thanks so much for linking up at the Unlimited Link Party 66. Pinned!

What is your experience? 💜 I read every comment, and so many times I find that I gain encouragement from what’s shared. ❤️