Country modern - or as it is now ubiquitously known, modern farmhouse - is perhaps one of the most photographed and sought-after design esthetics, thanks to its sophisticated, yet comfortable vibe. It’s a look that over the past decade has made its way from the pages of design haute couture into the kitchens, dining rooms and great rooms of the do-it-yourselfer, courtesy of reality design TV and the huge popularity of Chip and Joanna Gaines, who have created their own modern farmhouse industry.
“It’s really such a warm, cosy and inviting feel,” says Julie Punter, manager of selections and presentation for Homes by Avi, a Calgary homebuilder that also builds in Edmonton and Austin, Tex.
The design’s hallmark look incorporates a fresh vibe with clean lines, plenty of white-washed walls peppered with distressed wood accents from floating shelves to hand-scaled wide plank flooring and a few industrial elements tossed in for good measure.
“It’s a very classic look that will carry for many years,” say Punter, who decks out more than 50 show homes a year.
She recently created three show homes in Calgary with the modern farmhouse vibe, but perhaps her modern farmhouse piece de resistance and definitely the most viewed was the custom designed 2019 Stampede Rotary Dream Home.
"The charm in creating the farmhouse design is that it doesn’t need to be perfect. There are certain rules to follow, but you really want it to look like it has evolved over time.”
With the dream home, Punter kept the palette neutral using Cloverdale paint’s Barely White to swath the walls. White cabinetry in the kitchen grounded with hits of black in the hardware, along with plenty of texture in the materials from the backsplash to rustic wood flooring, shiplap wall detailing and custom farmhouse furnishings marry together to create that warm feeling. Wrought iron fixtures finish off the look.
Vancouver-based designer Jamie Banfield is also a big fan of the modern farmhouse look, although he doesn’t like to label the trends. For him it’s all about creating a feeling that resonates for his clients.
“The charm in creating the farmhouse design is that it doesn’t need to be perfect. There are certain rules to follow, but you really want it to look like it has evolved over time. We want to find things that have a story — pulling in antiques and adding open shelving — it shows that things aren’t perfect and gives the house a relaxed vibe,” says Banfield.
He notes that what drives the design is quality custom craftsmanship.
“People are now picking and choosing where they want to invest their money. Before designs were driven by appliances, but those are now becoming integrated, allowing for more artistic and thoughtful choices for things like cabinetry, custom tile, metal artisan welded hood fans,” he says.
He recently imbued a Langley, B.C., home with a modern farmhouse esthetic, punctuated with plenty of texture and ample splashes of rich, deep colour. Wooden beams add movement, flow and layers of rich warmth to the design, bringing the ceiling heights to human scale, while allowing the room to expand upwards.
“It’s really important to remember that fifth wall — the ceiling,” says Banfield. “Play with the ceiling; add beams, bead board, shiplap,” he suggests.
In the Langley home, the contemporary-antique fusion works seamlessly to create that comforting vibe, and that feeling is at the core of the Modern Farmhouse esthetic and one of the reasons it has escalated to the top of the design charts.
“Definitely this trend is here to stay,” says Banfield. “But in 2020 expect a lot more colour — heritage blacks, deep blues and greens.”
Here are few tips to transform your space into a haven brimming with the cozy modern farmhouse look.
Definitely pay attention to what Vancouver designer Jamie Banfield calls the fifth wall — the ceiling. Add interest, warmth and texture with details like beams, shiplap and bead board, a row of narrow planks lined up vertically and topped off with strips of horizontal moulding.
Enliven the space by mixing and matching metals. The one rule of thumb is to stay with either warm or cool tones.
Use wood to warm up the space; open shelving, hand-scaled wide-plank flooring, cabinetry, hand-crafted wood furnishings or in refinished vintage pieces. For a more authentic look, add items crafted from distressed wood that exude an aged patina.
Find artisanal items to layer in detail, in everything from ceiling hood fans to fireplace surrounds.
For 2020, punch up the look by switching out some of the white-washed walls with pops of colour — rich navy blues and deep heritage greens are topping the charts for some go-to colours.