Farmhouse kitchen ideas – the essential elements for a rustic look

‘When envisioning a farmhouse kitchen, the first thing most people think of is the iconic farmhouse sink or shiplap wall treatments,’ says New York-based Megan Dufresne, principal designer at MC Design. ‘These are by no means the only options for farmhouse style kitchens. The appeal of the farmhouse style is its timelessness and its ability to conjure homey and nostalgic feelings.’   Looking for farmhouse decor ideas and rustic decor inspiration to help spark ideas for your own kitchen? Below, we spoke to a handful of interior designers and decorator on how to achieve a farmhouse kitchen look with aplomb.

1. Introduce a tranquil color palette

While the modern farmhouse look majors on neutral tones of cream and white alongside plenty of wood, there is scope for color in your farmhouse kitchen ideas. Just be sure that your hues are inspired by a gentle, natural palette when you’re deciding on kitchen color ideas or farmhouse wall decor. Decorating with black and white will bring timeless charm to your country kitchen, offering the scope to create an elegant space that will last a lifetime. In this space, filigree patters take on a modern farmhouse look in striking black and white, bringing a beautiful dimension of pattern and personality. 

2. Go for an open concept space

Centering the kitchen at the centre of an open-concept space can create a coherent look across your home – especially if you align your farmhouse kitchen ideas with the decor in the adjacent room. Open-plan kitchen ideas also bring a relaxed aesthetic that suits today’s homes and lifestyle. ‘In this project, rethinking the modern farmhouse style was about getting away from the trendy, expected black and oak look,’ explain Lina Galvao and Erin Coren from Curated Nest Interiors (opens in new tab).  ‘The colors in the family room – black, cream, and blue, with natural wood accents – prove to be more vibrant than in your typical farmhouse, but don’t assault the senses. This works particularly well in the home’s open-plan setting, where a “light and airy” feeling is emphasized throughout the ground floor space with the repeated use of pale greys, whites, and light woods.

3. Choose matte black hardware

Using black is like adding punctuation to your farmhouse kitchen scheme – it helps to unite and make sense of all the other elements in the room. ‘Mixing concepts and textures such as marble tile, rich woods, and shiplap up to the ceiling bring about a farmhouse feel in a sophisticated manner,’ suggests Lindye Galloway, Founder and Chief Creative Officer of Lindye Galloway Studio + Shop (opens in new tab).  ‘Contrasting hardware such as a matte black helps to bring the eye throughout the space without taking away from the overall design aesthetic.’ You can install new kitchen handles to introduce a matte black touch instantly to your farmhouse kitchen ideas.

4. Be creative with lighting

The farmhouse look is about ease, simplicity and a sense of welcome – and the lighting you choose is key. ‘When you’re considering farmhouse kitchen lighting ideas, think about the functional lights you need, to illuminate food prep and cooking areas, as well as accent lighting in glazed cabinets or niches,’ says Andréa Chillds, editor of Country Homes & Interiors (opens in new tab) magazine.  ‘But then get playful and creative with the lighting that will create atmosphere and character. You could put a row of wall lights above a farmhouse dining table, rather than a typical pendant, as in this scheme by Lindye Galloway. Or use a mix of different lighting styles, with mismatched shades, for an eclectic look.’

5. Use wide planks for the floor

Wide wood plank flooring is a staple of farmhouse kitchen design, but it doesn’t have to be simple straight-up-and-down rows. Herringbone and chevron designs bring flair to wood flooring, or you could mix wood with tile for a mismatched look. Whichever look you choose, you can be reassured that the answer to ‘Is wood suitable for kitchens?’ is ‘Yes’. ‘Wood is an element that is seen throughout the farmhouse design, which can bring that warm, cozy and traditional feeling into any kitchen,’ says Teri Simone, Head of Design & Marketing for Nieu Cabinet Doors (opens in new tab).  ‘Wooden beams, floors and rustic repurposed chairs are good examples. Brass touches like faucets or even decorative cookware found at the secondhand store can also bring your farmhouse design to life.’

6. Choose black and white decor

This farmhouse kitchen from Urbanology Designs (opens in new tab) teams black cabinetry with clean white walls for a fresh but grounded scheme. If monochrome is your choice for modern farmhouse ideas, there are a number of black and white kitchen ideas to try. ‘You might opt for black cabinets with white trim, white cabinets with dark wood trim, or dark brown cabinets with light wood trim,’ suggests Linda D Haase, an interior designer from Utah and adviser at The Project Girl.

7. Dial down the glamor

Farmhouse kitchen ideas don’t usually include the sleek and shiny, or super high-tech features. ‘Farmhouse style is a combination of function and the homeowners personal style, whether it be DIY, modern, industrial, or coastal that meld together in an eclectic, lived in look,’ explains Kate Hunt of Kathryn Hunt Studio (opens in new tab) in Connecticut. ‘Often the location of the project influences what materials are used, such as reclaimed wood, woven seagrass elements, and antiques. Often lighting and furniture is reclaimed.  Glam is not a term that would be used for farmhouse style.’

8. Decorate your dresser

‘A glazed dresser can make a great addition to a traditional or farmhouse kitchen,’ says interior designer Cherie Lee (opens in new tab). ‘The display of ceramic pieces and timber boards will create an informal and natural feel to the kitchen cabinetry, both of which are key elements in achieving the modern farmhouse aesthetic.’ 

9. Mix modern with rustic 

‘Larders and pantries are quickly becoming the status symbol of modern kitchens. Looking stylish and offering easy, additional storage,’ says Paul Deckland of The Cotswold Company (opens in new tab). In this space, the farmhouse style is perfectly crafted as modern is mixed with rustic. The sleek, contemporary charcoal larder is complemented by the wooden stair ladder and wicker baskets. 

10. Introduce hints of color

Bringing colorful appliances into your kitchen is a great way to accessorise a farmhouse style space, complementing traditional earthy tones. According to Graham Duke of Everhot (opens in new tab), pairing the deep green cooker with neutral colors results in a calming effect. 

11. Consider vintage pieces

‘Incorporate pieces with age into your modern farmhouse kitchen,’ says interior designer Phillip Thomas (opens in new tab). ‘Those pieces are elevated to works of art when juxtaposed with the clean lines of the modern space.’ This space, crafted by Vipp, cleverly mixes modern and vintage as the traditional larder complements the light color scheme. 

12. Decorate above kitchen 

‘Farmhouses by nature are about streamlined functionality,’ says Phillip Thomas. ‘One of the ways to develop a functional interior is with open shelving.’  Thomas suggests stocking your open shelving with interesting materials and pieces that are aesthetically pleasing as well as functional.  

13. Opt for a patterned backsplash

‘Earthy, spice-inspired hues are a brilliant way to add warmth into a space, and while shades of ochre are not usually commonplace in the kitchen they do work wonderfully to add an energising spin on a farmhouse kitchen,’ says Andrea Freeman of Bushboard. (opens in new tab)  ‘Honey tones pair beautifully with wood features such as shelving, worktops or furniture in a kitchen, continuing to add texture and warmth, while the pattern breaks up the warm palette to add interest and mimic other areas of the home.’ 

14. Include a sleek marble surface

‘A sleek marble work surface can instantly give a kitchen a contemporary feel,’ says Interior Designer Birdie Fortescue (opens in new tab). ‘Equally a new hard floor such as limestone or pale wood floor boards will update even the most traditional farmhouse kitchen.’

15. Mix natural materials

‘Mix natural materials to bring the Modern Farmhouse look to a kitchen,’ says Phillip Thomas. ‘Pair wood with metals such as stainless or brass and stone with glass.’ This carefully considered space, crafted by Nordic House, blends natural materials to a calming effect. 

16. Go for contrasting cabinets

Adding contrasting colors to your kitchen cabinet can bring a modern, stylish feel to your farmhouse kitchen. The deep cherry cabinet in this space adds warmth to the kitchen. Sinead Trainor of LochAnna Kitchens (opens in new tab) recommends pairing reds and deep cherry colors with lighter, cooler tones such as beige, white or grey. 

17. Consider hardwearing floors

Installing laminate floors in your kitchen is a great way to achieve the rustic, farmhouse style while keeping your house modern and versatile.  ‘The wood effect decors offer a more contemporary take on traditional wood whilst still retaining its warm welcoming tones,’ says Inga Morris-Blincoe of Lifestyle Floors (opens in new tab). 

18. Choose a simple look

‘Keep the design of the cabinets as simple as possible,’ says Birdie Fortescue. ‘Maintain this look throughout and don’t muddle styles in the joinery or door furniture.’ ‘Add a freestanding piece whether a dresser or cabinet. Don’t over decorate this with fussy objects and make sure the overall look is balanced and clean.’

19. Invest in a solid oak table

‘An oak table in the kitchen brings warmth and an organic element from the natural material that is essential in a modern farmhouse design,’ says Interior Designer Cherie Lee. ‘It will also show signs of age and character with use that play into the effortless and lived in aesthetic.’ 

20. Include bench seating

‘Bench seating can feel more intimate and casual in the kitchen than dining chairs. It can really assist with creating a comfortable and laid back kitchen style,’ says Cherie Lee. ‘Tongue and groove detail on a built-in bench will maximize the country or farmhouse look. Add soft furnishings in natural leathers and wools for additional texture.’ 

21. Add some Nordic bar stools

‘I love Nordic furniture in a modern farmhouse design,’ says Phillip Thomas. ‘While the pieces are often spare in their design, the materials they employ are very rich and have soul.’

22. Mix countertops

‘Always lean towards a mix of countertops,’ suggests Gary J. Fernandez, Director of Purple Pepperpot. ‘Try to use quartz and solid wood to compliment each other or consider using mixed height wall units together with thick wooden shelving to make it feel less like a showroom.’

23. Opt for an apron sink

‘Always try to use a Belfast sink but also consider a free standing fridge freezer,’ says Fernandez. ‘It will always have more of a farmhouse look than an integrated one.’ Fernandez also suggests opting for a range oven with a mantle as the focal point of the space. In this space, crafted by Handelsmann + Khaw (opens in new tab), the designer has used a carefully-considered tonal color palette for a calming and cohesive look.

24. Hang up a pot rack

‘I really like retro style accessories in farm and country houses, as they add some character. I would recommend the KitchenAid Nespresso machine,’ says Fernandez. ‘Also, a hanging pot rack, complete with copper saucepans over a farmhouse kitchen island will give you a very authentic farmhouse look.’

25. Fix detailed hardware

According to New York-based Erin Coren, Principal Designer at Curated Nest, beautiful hardware can also create a statement. ‘We always look at lighting and hardware as the ‘jewelry’ of a space,’ says Coren. ‘It can create the perfect balance between farmhouse and modern.’ Here, designer Sarah Sherman Samuel (opens in new tab) has embraced the trend for copper and brass accessorizes to great effect.

26. Don’t forget toe kicks

‘Toe kicks are also areas to not be overlooked,’ says Coren. ‘In farmhouse kitchens, the cabinets feel more like pieces of furniture. We like to create feet on the edges of cabinets to give it a detail, making the cabinets feel like furniture.’

27. Go for open shelving

Where kitchens once were considered purely for utility, they are now where families congregate, do homework, and catch up on their day. ‘Having open wall shelves in lieu of closed upper cabinets make the space feel more open, giving a place to display bowls, cookbooks, and decor,’ says Coren.

28. Decorate with earthy tones

‘After installing new cabinets, we decided to paint them a mossy green color to introduce a clean earthy mood in the space,’ shares Laura Mooney, owner and head of Creative of The Mohicans Treehouse Resort in Glenmont, Ohio. ‘The Manor is surrounded by beautiful natural landscape and greenery and it was important to bring the outside in.’ According to Mooneyy, the earthy tones are an easy and cost-effective way to achieve this. The team as DISC Interiors (opens in new tab) used the same design philosophy here – to create a color palette that is at one with nature and its surroundings.

29. Choose flooring carefully

For a farmhouse kitchen floor with individual character and natural beauty, look no further than natural stone: no two tiles will ever be identical, so your floor will be unique.  Stone offers a classic and luxurious look and tends to improve as it acquires the ‘patina’ of age. Here, the design team at Amber Interiors (opens in new tab) have chosen a sturdy stone floor – one that will last for years and years.

30. Use wood for natural texture 

According to Dufresne, the use of wood to bring natural texture into the space is a great choice. ‘From choosing unfinished wood flooring to adding beadboard or shiplap to walls, wood will create a sense of warmth in any farmhouse kitchen,’ she says.

31. Hang oversized light fixtures

‘Lighting is key in traditional farmhouse decor,’ explains Dufresne. ‘Oversized lighting fixtures, lanterns, drum pendants, library sconces and wood chandeliers all look great in farmhouse kitchens.’ These fixtures become beautiful focal points that also offer an opportunity to be playful and creative with the design and really make the design your own.

32. Decorate with brass accents 

Farmhouse kitchens are classic and simple in design, but New York-based Teri Simone suggests letting a brass or painted faucet work its way into your design to give that lived-in feeling of a years old farmhouse. Here, the designers at Jean Stoffer Design (opens in new tab) used brass handles for interest and intrigue. They also standout beautifully against the olive green kitchen cabinets.

33. Go antiquing

‘Don’t forget to have fun with your transformation,’ says Simone. ‘With farmhouse style kitchens in particular, you can embrace the imperfect. Pick up those antique teacups to accent your floating shelves, or try your hand at a shabby-chic bar stool restoration.’ A worn in look that’s simple, warm, and inviting will have you admiring your farmhouse kitchen for years to come.

34. Fit a cozy breakfast nook

A cozy breakfast nook is an excellent element if you tend to congregate in the kitchen together at the end – or the beginning – of the day. In order to give it a charming appeal, consider a board and batten wall effect for the booth itself.

35. Go for charm over cohesion

The easiest way to add a farmhouse-inspired feel to your kitchen? Consider mismatched accents – like a darker wood farmhouse kitchen island or a variety of different chairs tucked into the dinner table in lieu of a matching set.

36. Display forage foliage

Live on a decent sized property? Consider taking cues from your backyard and bringing those elements inside. Whether it’s olive branches, pussy willow, or ornamental grass, a couple of strands in a ceramic jar immediately gives a farmhouse effect.

How do I make my kitchen look farmhouse?

The traditional farmhouse kitchen is celebrated for its characterful features. Think exposed beams, inglenook fireplaces and woven materials, all of which can be recreated in a newer property.  However, getting the farmhouse look in your kitchen is more about enjoying the laidback essence of relaxed country life, than slavish replication. The key is to focus on elements that add warmth, depth and authenticity. Don’t be afraid to mix up styles – traditional finishes and fittings can combine very effectively with modern conveniences, such as brass handles or steel windows. It’s all in the detail…

What is a modern farmhouse kitchen?

Modern farmhouse style tends to be lighter and brighter than the traditional farmhouse kitchen. White or cream walls, oak surfaces or cabinets, and touches of black in hardware and ironmongery all feature. ‘The modern farmhouse look may also include more industrial-style details such as steel surfaces and appliances, and cage-style lighting,’ says Andréa Childs, editor of Country Homes & Interiors magazine. ‘Sleek materials such as polished concrete and  marble may also be included.’