7 lessons in modern farmhouse style the designer of this elegant kitchen wants us to learn

This is how to make a classic kitchen contemporary

Farmhouse kitchen in white and black
(Image credit: Kitchen design by Roundhouse, photographed Mary Wadsworth)

If you are looking for inspiration for a remodel, the first step is to choose a kitchen style that matches not just the period and architecture of your home, but also the tone of the rest of your interior design. 

However, there are some designs that will suit most homes, whatever their makeup, and which are timelessly elegant. Farmhouse kitchens, particularly those that lean towards modern farmhouse style, are amongst the most popular of American kitchen styles, and it's obvious why: they are smart and so easy to live with.

Talking about this kitchen, Lauren Wright, Senior Design Consultant at Roundhouse (opens in new tab) says: 'The client tasked us with creating a timeless kitchen for her period style new-build property. The classic Shaker kitchen design with a contemporary twist met the client’s brief while also remaining sympathetic to the  grandeur and style of the property.'

With interior design and architecture by Studio WD, Studio WD (opens in new tab), this kitchen is the perfect example of how to achieve a farmhouse kitchen. It's useful for anyone looking for black and white kitchen ideas, too.

1. Create an airy feel with careful contrasts

White cabinets and kitchen island surface, dark blue kitchen island base and door

(Image credit: Kitchen design by Roundhouse, photographed Mary Wadsworth)

Farmhouse kitchen wall decor is typically subtle, but here it is pared right back to muted colors that rely on contrast for impact.

'Form and function were important when designing this kitchen. The details were key in creating a space that was elegant and welcoming.

'The Little Greene (opens in new tab) Slaked Lime Deep cabinetry and Silestone (opens in new tab) Blanco Zeus countertops create an airy feel in this kitchen. Antique bronze handles from Buster & Punch (opens in new tab) help to ground the design, creating an interesting contrast to the sleek white surfaces. A large central island painted in Benjamin Moore (opens in new tab) ‘Midnight’ also helps to offset the crisp color palette without taking away from the large, light space.'

2. Introduce open shelving to display modern ceramics 

Wooden open shelves with ceramics and plates

(Image credit: Kitchen design by Roundhouse, photographed Mary Wadsworth)

Farmhouse decor ideas rely to a large extent on display.

'Kitchen storage is key, however, wall-to-wall cabinets can often look bulky and make the space feel enclosed. Open kitchen shelving is a great solution – not only does it offer more storage, but it allows you to display their collection of crockery, ceramics, and art. Creating a space to display decorative items helps to personalize a space that can often feel very utilitarian.

'In this kitchen, blonde wood shelving was chosen to match the slated ceiling. The owner displays a collection of modern ceramics and tableware making this Classic kitchen feel more contemporary. This display can also be changed over time, helping to keep the space feeling fresh.'

3. Choose industrial lighting and metal door frames to give it edge

Wooden open shelves with ceramics and plates

(Image credit: Kitchen design by Roundhouse, photographed Mary Wadsworth)

If you are looking for more modern farmhouse ideas, you can introduce them with contemporary materials, through farmhouse kitchen lighting ideas and hardware. 

'Good kitchen lighting is essential to create the perfect ambience. In this kitchen, the client chose to go with industrial-style cluster spotlights that, whilst being practical, also serve an aesthetic purpose by bringing a modern edge to an otherwise classic design.

'The dark metal in the light fixture is echoed in the black door frames. These harsh industrial materials are offset by the natural stone, wood detailing, and calming white walls which bring a softness.'

4. Put pale wood slatting on the ceiling to create a feature 

wooden ceiling, black hanging lights

(Image credit: Kitchen design by Roundhouse, photographed Mary Wadsworth)

'Ceilings can often be overlooked when designing a room. When considered, it can be an opportunity to do something unexpected. Kitchens can feel utilitarian and cold however, introducing clever kitchen ceiling ideas such as pale wood slats is a clever way to add warmth and create an interesting feature.

'Apart from offering a rustic charm, wood slating also helps with a kitchen's acoustics. Kitchens have so many hard surfaces – stone, tiles, metal appliances – that result in an undesirable echo. It’s important to think about ways in which this can be countered, such as integrating wood and soft furnishings that will help absorb sound.

'The pale wood in the slating is mirrored in the wood shelving, helping to integrate the two design elements. The combination of materials helps to give a fresh, Scandinavian look that is on-trend yet timeless.'

5. Put LED lighting in cabinet interiors for atmosphere

Shelf lighting in cabinet, dark frame doors

(Image credit: Kitchen design by Roundhouse, photographed Mary Wadsworth)

'The function of LED lighting inside cabinetry is primarily to make life easier when searching for items in the cabinet, however it’s also useful for creating ambience. When having guests for dinner one can dim ceiling lights allowing a warm glow to radiate from within the cabinetry.

'LEDs are also great for those who want to illuminate their collection of beautiful glassware!'

6. Opt for an open-plan layout perfect for entertaining 

Black oven, white splashback

(Image credit: Kitchen design by Roundhouse, photographed Mary Wadsworth)

Open plan kitchens always benefit from having a farmhouse kitchen island at their heart, but think function as well as form.

'This kitchen needed to perform as a working kitchen for the client but also for any future occupants. Multiple cooking areas, a separate drinks' fridge and breakfast area, two sinks for the main dishwashing zone, and another preparation sink on the island were all designed to function well for a busy family and for entertaining guests.

'The central island helps create a flow around the space, while providing bar seating for guests to chat with the host whilst they prepare and cook food. The space around the island is generous enough to allow for several people to move around the kitchen without difficulty.

'The SubZero fridge, freezer, and wine cooler can be found on the back wall away from the cooking area so that guests can help themselves to drinks without disturbing the cook. On the adjacent wall, a standalone bi-folding breakfast cabinet keeps functional gadgets and appliances tucked away out of sight, but when open it creates a beautiful oak contrast. 

'Each element of this kitchen has been made to be a feature. For example, the main elevation showcases the Aga and has symmetrical cabinetry and a simple contemporary mantel above – a beautiful focal point for those seated at the island.'

7. Mix cabinet styles to create interest 

kitchen cabinet with white cabinetry and black island

(Image credit: Kitchen design by Roundhouse, photographed Mary Wadsworth)

When browsing kitchen cabinet styles, think: two tone kitchens

'Mixing and matching colors, styles, and textures in the kitchen was once frowned upon. Now, creating a well-balanced scheme by incorporating contrasting design elements is something to be desired. It means that the options are (relatively) limitless, opening up a world of choice that results in more adventurous and individual designs.

'This kitchen epitomizes what so many clients ask for in a modern style classic Shaker kitchen. The combination of two cabinetry styles – Classic and Classic Contemporary – adds a touch of the unexpected while the use of clean lines, symmetry, and elegant color palette help keep the design from feeling too busy.'

Lucy Searle
Lucy Searle

Lucy Searle has written about interiors, property and gardens since 1990, working her way around the interiors departments of women's magazines before switching to interiors-only titles in the mid-nineties. She was Associate Editor on Ideal Home, and Launch Editor of 4Homes magazine, before moving into digital in 2007, launching Channel 4's flagship website, Channel4.com/4homes. In 2018, Lucy took on the role of Global Editor in Chief for Realhomes.com, taking the site from a small magazine add-on to a global success. She was asked to repeat that success at Homes & Gardens, where she has also taken on the editorship of the magazine.