Design Inspiration

How to Fake a Modern Farmhouse in the City

The decorative tricks behind the aesthetic everyone's talking about.
Anna Kocharian Avatar

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Dare we say that modern farmhouse is the new Scandinavian? While the thought of leaving behind the cool, clean minimalism of the latter, once in awhile, a little change could do some well. And as most design-lovers are trading their whitewashed spaces in for the bold and the bright of the nearly-ubiquitous maximalist movement, there is an equally plentiful insurgence of decorators who are skewing in the opposite direction. For all the streamlined characteristics and abundant mix of prints and patterns of maximalism, the opposing aesthetic—which has come to be defined as modern farmhouse—is just as rustic and neutrally-charged.

Don’t be fooled: It’s anything but snoozy. That being said, for as much as we love the aesthetic, we can recognize that it may be difficult to replicate in an urban dwelling—read: small-spaces. Thinking outside of the spanning exteriors, grand dining rooms, and spacious entryways, we’re looking to the ways in which we can recreate the look within our existing homes. Taking pointers and inspiration from the wide array of homes we’ve seen, which share the aforementioned aesthetic, ahead are a few helpful ways you can recreate the look in your own space. Farmhouses not required.

One of the perks of replicating the modern farmhouse look in a city apartment is that you already (probably) have the necessary foundation for one half of the aesthetic: a modern backdrop. From there, you can build on with rustic accents—think wooden floating shelves, a vintage statement chair, or small side table.

Textiles can also do wonders, especially from a low-lift perspective. Something as simple as hanging a curated set of tea towels up in the kitchen can help instantly implement the look into place.

If you’re working in reverse—decorating a rustic space, which is certainly hard to come by in the city—it’s all about designing with somewhat strictly modern finds. Obvious as it may be, it’s important to stay consistent with your selections, avoiding mixing elements from a variety of decorative eras. Avoid the ultra-contemporary (the sleek and futuristic) and gear more towards the mid-century modern or subdued modern. Take cues from Patrick Robinson’s upstate New York kitchen, which manages to do just that by pairing the mod furnishings against the whitewashed, rustic bones of the home.

Take things a step further by trading in existing hardware (think: pulls, fixtures, and even lighting) for a set that skews more towards to rustic side.

If you ask us, Leanne Ford’s LA residence epitomizes the modern farmhouse aesthetic. Fresh, whitewashed, and filled with an abundant slew of inspired decorative accents, the home is chock full of elements that invite a refresh. This curated shelf is just one example. The lesson here? Filling a modern shelf with vintage finds. Scour flea markets and thrift shops for random tchotchkes and accessories, and earmark them to a modern storage unit to complete the look.

It’s not all about the whitewashed. Subdued neutrals and moody pastels can too emulate the crisp, clean qualities of the modern farmhouse vibe. Of course, said hues are best represented in the form of textured linens. Take note from this cozy nook—spotted in an 18th-century farmhouse, home to 

Hawkins New York

founders Nick Blaine and Paul Denoly—where a curated handful of blush- and neutral-toned linen pillows elevate the otherwise modest scheme.

When it comes to the bathroom, nothing says modern farmhouse quite like a vintage, claw foot tub. For those who don’t have the luxury or spatial capacity of bringing one in (hello, renters), take to the vanity area to replicate the look. Brass fixtures are a surefire way to emulate the aesthetic thanks to the lustrous yet antique quality of the finish. Swap out the existing set and complete the look with a vintage mirror, directly above.

For those who have the capability to take things to the next level, consider replacing the vanity with a more old-school alternative. Concrete sinks paired with an upcycled cabinet will definitely do the trick.

It’s not all about the neutrals. You can achieve the aesthetic by establishing a moody setting, complete with plenty of drama via the paint department, much like this rustic-inspired scene. Even if the majority of the furnishings skew towards the farmhouse vibe, you may implement a sense of balance with a modern approach to a handful of key pieces such as lighting and art.

No opportunity is too small to get in on the look, entryways included. Bring in a modern storage solution, streamlined shelving encouraged, and utilize a portion of it to double as a decorative accent. And since we’re all for making the most of the space we have, keep functionality top-of-mind. Pair the shelf with wire baskets or a woven alternative for added texture. Take cues from this uber cool studio and opt for a stoneware-inspired color palette to keep the space tight and visually contained.

At the end of the day, if you’re feeling up to the challenge, outfit a room with shiplap walls—the quintessential hallmark of the modern farmhouse look, if you ask us—and pair it with a handful of contemporary pieces, think: sleek dining table and matching chairs or a reading nook with a mod accent seat. The not-so-basic, all-white paneling is a surefire way to capture the aesthetic with effortless ease.

See more inspiring homes:

A Renovated Farmhouse, Draped in Cozy, Colorful Textiles A Fashion Designer Turned a 160-Year-Old Barn Into His Dream Home Canyon Cool

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Anna Kocharian Avatar

Anna Kocharian


Anna has a penchant for travel, fresh flowers, and books. You can usually find her on some sort of culinary adventure, seeking the best burgers or waffles in the city.