What makes a farmhouse

Traditionally farmhouses are simply homes built on agricultural lands to house and protect who owned or worked the land. The term Farmhouse isn't necessarily connected to a particular style identified by a fixed set of features, but a setting for a way of life. This is most likely why its appeal seems to be timeless.

A farmhouse is elegant and yet simple. It represents a peaceful agrarian life, but at the same time it serves as a home base for its activity, hence connected to productivity. The farmhouse can be seen as refuge, a safe environment that is grounded in purity, honesty, and simple value. Depending on the type of farm, it also gives its inhabitants a way to be somewhat self-sufficient.

The form of this type of home is highly adaptable. Farmhouses can easily be expanded because their basic shapes make it easy to add porches, sheds, and wings. These houses can also be dressed up or dressed down, depending on what you expect from a home. Each house takes on the imprint if the people who lived there, resulting in a truly vernacular style, one that adapts to local needs and preferences.

The farmhouses we are referring to are typically American and even though their style varies depending on the region/state, they have several elements in common. We are going to go over them and provide a few links to learn more about them.

Simple forms

“Form follows function". Proportions and scale of the farmhouse derive from practical reasons related to the ease of construction.

Practical and humble materials, honest materials

Traditional materials help intimately tie a new home to its unique place in the world. Nowadays this aspect is often related to the look rather than the whole concept especially when newly built farmhouse type of homes don't have any connection to the agrarian life.


On a farmhouse, porches are important as a transition space between home life and farmyard. The porch serves as another room, providing fresh air and open views while maintaining a sense of refuge. Porch(Front/back or wrap around) with wood columns, floors and ceiling: During the warm season, the outside and inside meet on the porch. Activities and conversation take place from rocking chairs and swings.


Horizontal siding or board and batten

These finish elements bring a distinctive and traditional overall look to the home as well as adding depth to its textures.

Painted wood walls

A plank texture with earth tones can give that touch of warm interiors need.

Hard wood floors

“Modern" hard wood floors are typically polished and smooth but the traditional appearance was much humbler. 

Learn more: http://www.oldhouseonline.com/the-history-of-wood-flooring/

Farmhouse sink

These large kitchen sinks were often found in rural homes of decades past.

Learn more: http://www.nativetrails.net/blog/love-thy-farmhouse-sink/

Open Shelving

On the traditional farm, the kitchen was the designated space for family meals rather than dining room which is a typical of city houses. Farmhouse kitchen needed to be large enough to accommodate numerous people on short notice. These eat-in spaces required practical and flexible furnishing, which is why kitchen featured open shelving and plate rails.


Sturdy/Farmhouse table

The original Farm tables were very simple and they were born from the basic need to have a place to sit and eat. Later on technologies and details improved the look of this piece of furniture, but its essence based on sturdiness and simplicity remained basically intact.

Metal bed

Simple iron structure typically made with curved frame and posts. 

Clawfoot bathtub

The iconic bathtub was originally designed in Holland around the early 1700's and inspired by a Chinese design of a dragon clutching a pearl. That concept later on evolved in America as an eagle claw or talon.

Learn more:  https://houseappeal.wordpress.com/2012/06/22/footed-in-style-the-clawfoot-tub/ 

Mud room

Nowadays mudrooms are a necessity even in modern urban homes. Originally they were usedin farms and country homes as a transition between the outdoor space and the living areas of the home.  This was considered a secondary access dedicated to the daily activity of the farm so that the main entry could be used as a formal entrance.

Barn doors

Sliding barn doors were once a necessity on the farm but today are being re purposed to create beautiful living spaces


Vintage farmhouse lighting

A set vintage barn style lighting fixtures can definitely be the final touch makes a famhouse.


Nowadays, aside from the proper farmhouse that will likely be restored and renovated, new homes that can esthetically be identified as farmhouses are quite popular. Of course the real essence and function of the original house is somehow lost as these new homes are basically built to reproduce a style and a set a features. Nonetheless it is possible to reinterpret this type of home, adapting it to the contemporary residential lifestyle and bringsome of the traditional architectural elements of the farmhouse in our new home.