What is a modern farmhouse kitchen? Interior designers explain the allure of this timeless decor trend

Warm, welcoming, and rustic – a modern farmhouse kitchen style is a delightful marriage of contemporary and rural charm. Find out what makes a modern farmhouse kitchen, and how you can get the look, with our expert guide

what is a modern farmhouse kitchen hero
(Image credit: Mindy Laven / Photography Christopher Lee / Leanne Ford Interiors / Photography Amy Neunsinger / Jamie Hallen / Photography Lauren Moore)

As the proverbial heart of the home, your kitchen should feel like an inviting space dedicated to family that bridges the gap between traditional and modern living. And no trend hits the nail on the head quite like the modern farmhouse kitchen – and you don’t even need to live in the country to have one.

There is a reason this style is so enduring. Creating a welcoming ambiance, the modern farmhouse kitchen strikes the perfect balance of contemporary and classic elements, with a touch of lived-in style, rustic charm. 

But with a bamboozling array of kitchen trends out there, 'modern farmhouse' is a term we throw around lightly but do we really know the ins and outs of a modern farmhouse kitchen? The characteristics that truly make it sing? And how does it differ from a modern organic or modern rustic style? We've rallied interior design experts to do a deep dive into this ever-popular kitchen idea below.

What Is A Modern Farmhouse Kitchen?

The modern farmhouse kitchen idea is one that honors the home-spun warmth of traditional kitchens found on working farms, which had to feed not just the family but their farmhands, too. And then, to bring it into the 21st century, the trend incorporates modern functionality to include a mix of contemporary sensibilities in this eclectic design style.

'This fusion creates a warm and inviting space that combines the best of both worlds,' says interior designer Jennifer Davis. 'The modern farmhouse style has gained widespread popularity for its ability to evoke a sense of comfort and nostalgia while still embracing the sleekness of modern interiors.'

'Modern farmhouse kitchens take elements from the past but updates them,' explains designer Bethany Adams. 'Think shaker cabinets, but in a fun color like blue or green. Instead of unlacquered brass, a modern farmhouse kitchen may have matte black faucets and hardware. Wood countertops tend to be sleek walnut, rather than the well-used butcherblock of yore.' It's all about creating small, stylized updates to take it from rustic to relevant.

'It blends traditional design elements like shiplap, farmhouse-style sinks, and wide plank flooring with more modern elements like glossy accent tile, modern hardware, and a more neutral palette,' adds interior designer and owner of Verde Interior Design, Luis Carmona. 'Blending the two aesthetics is an art that needs to be strategically executed for the look in the space to not appear forced,' he adds. 

Simply put, if you adore a farmhouse-style kitchen but appreciate the contemporary nature of modern kitchen design, modern farmhouse is for you.

The Hallmarks Of A Modern Farmhouse Kitchen

1. A neutral or muted color palette

neutral color modern farmhouse kitchen island with bar stools

(Image credit: Mindy Laven / Photography Christopher Lee)

Modern farmhouse kitchens often involve decorating with neutrals, with whites, creams, grays, and natural wood tones dominating the palette but it has since evolved to include a muted color scheme of blues, greens, and pastels too. These colors contribute to a bright and airy feel while allowing you to experiment with richer tones to add depth to the space.

'The color palette in modern farmhouse kitchens is typically neutral and earthy, with whites, grays, and muted tones taking center stage,' agrees Jennifer Davis. 'This creates a serene and timeless atmosphere, allowing other design elements to stand out. Characteristic features contribute to the classic farmhouse look and serve as a versatile backdrop for the overall neutral palette,' she adds.

'The overall style of a modern farmhouse home should feel chic and curated but also lived-in and full of warmth and personality,' says designer Kathy Kuo. 'Often the color palette is on the clean and neutral side, but the decorative elements feel very rustic-chic and are often rendered in natural materials like woven wicker and rattan, or reclaimed wood.'

kathy kuo home
Kathy Kuo

Kathy Kuo is a celebrated interior designer and international guru within the home and lifestyle space. She has 20+ years of experience in the design industry. 

2. Shaker-style or traditional cabinetry

shaker kitchen in modern farmhouse style by davonport

(Image credit: Davonport)

Shaker-style cabinets are a common choice in modern farmhouse kitchens. The clean lines and simple door designs contribute to the timeless appeal of the decor style.

'Shaker kitchens always sit well in a farmhouse setting, especially when they help speak to the era of the property,' says Elizabeth Sherwin, creative director at Naked Kitchens. 'Material and color choice is essential to get right, bringing in touches of metal, tile, paneling or open shelving can uplift a classic shaker kitchen.'

Shaker cabinetry will not only provide you with ample storage but also serve as a canvas for the interplay of traditional and modern design elements. Designer Kristen Fiore of Kristen Elizabeth Design agrees. 'Reclaimed hardware is an easy and inexpensive way to add to the farmhouse feel by adding an antique quality to more simple, modern cabinetry. This helps to balance the modern farmhouse style,' she advises.

expert headshot of Kristen Fiore
Kristen Fiore

Kristen Fiore, owner and lead designer of Kristen Elizabeth Design based in Sacramento, California Kristen Fiore, the founder of Kristen Elizabeth Design, is a talented interior designer with a lifelong passion for design. Growing up near New York City, she was immersed in a rich environment of inspiration and resources. She honed her skills and gained valuable experience in New York before moving to California.

3. Open shelving for maximal styling opportunities

blue modern farmhouse kitchen with open shelving and rustic styling

(Image credit: Jamie Haller / Photography Lauren Moore)

Richard Davonport, managing Director at Davonport, says: 'a farmhouse kitchen errs on the side of being a relaxed concept, rather than formal kitchens that can lack personality. The relaxed nature offers homeowners many opportunities to bring in personal touches while having fun with making the space the heart of the home.'

Open kitchen shelving, whilst popular in many kitchen styles, is a hallmark of modern farmhouse kitchen design. Adding function with easy-to-see and grab storage for utensils, plates, and pantry items, kitchen shelving also allows for the display of decorative and sentimental items to create a live-in aesthetic.

'It is a popular choice in modern farmhouse kitchens, promoting an airy and uncluttered feel. It provides an opportunity to showcase decorative and functional items such as vintage dishware, mason jars, and copper cookware, further emphasizing the rustic charm,' adds Jennifer Davis.

Jennifer Davis
Jennifer Davis

Jennifer fell in love with design at a young age and has been working in the industry for over 25 years. She has developed an eye for detail and a talent for creating timeless designs. Jennifer offers a balance of creativity and forward-thinking with a structured, organized, and detailed mentality. Jennifer is driven by her deep passion for design while curating an exceptional client journey, ensuring pure delight from the very beginning to the end.

4. Modern countertops and hardware

modern farmhouse kitchen with traditional and modern elements

(Image credit: Jennifer Robin / Photography Paul Dyer)

'To balance out the more traditional design elements of the cabinets or hardware, you often see more modern elements used in the kitchen countertops, appliances, and light fixtures,' explains Verde's Luis Carmona. This creates that juxtaposition that gives "modern farmhouse" its signature look.

'Waterfall countertops or more clean-lined light fixtures above the kitchen island help add that nod of contemporary to the space while not overpowering the traditional elements' Luis adds. 'The use of stainless steel appliances, albeit introducing cold surfaces to the spaces, provides a nice contrast to any softer, wood elements.'

Jennifer Davis agrees. 'In terms of fixtures and hardware, the modern farmhouse kitchen style incorporates a mix of traditional and modern elements,' she explains. 'Matte black or oil-rubbed bronze faucets and cabinet hardware complement the overall design, adding a touch of contemporary sophistication. Additionally, stone countertops, such as marble or granite, are frequently incorporated to add a touch of luxury and durability.'

5. A statement farmhouse sink

kara childress modern organic kitchen with houseplants

(Image credit: Kara Childress)

A large, apron-front farmhouse kitchen sink is a signature element of this style. Not only for function, a butler or Belfast sink as they're also known, creates something of beauty out of something so mundane.

'You can easily replicate the feel of a modern farmhouse kitchen by choosing certain products and styles as long as the ‘warmth’ that you associate with them comes through,' suggests Richard Davonport. 'Look to products we typically associate with the aesthetics of these style kitchens – like a butler or farmhouse sink.'

Designer Artem Kropovinsky agrees. 'Invest in a statement piece, like an oversized, farmhouse-style sink. It becomes a focal point that marries practicality with aestheticism,' he advises. Consider adding a touch of softness by swapping the under-sink cabinet door fronts for a curtain of fabric instead.

Artem Kropovinsky
Artem Kropovinsky

Based in New York, Artem Kropovinsky, founder of Arsight, has a decade of extensive and considerable global design experience. Prioritizing minimalism, sustainability, and authenticity, Artem, alongside his team of professionals, works on projects in the US and worldwide.

6. Reclaimed, vintage and rustic elements

modern farmhouse kitchen with reclaimed wood and antique decor

(Image credit: Mindy Laven / Photography Christopher Lee)

'Today's interpretation of farmhouse style has taken on a more sophisticated view,' says designer Mindy Laven, who designed this charming kitchen above. 'Pairing antiques, and vintage artwork and accessories with contemporary fixtures helps to create a classic design that has all of the historical feels but is suited for a contemporary lifestyle,' she adds. Adding antique or distressed elements, such as furniture or decor pieces, can enhance the character of the space and give it a well-worn, lived-in feel.

'One of the key hallmarks of the modern farmhouse kitchen style is the use of natural materials,' adds Jennifer Davis. 'Wood, particularly reclaimed or distressed wood, is a dominant feature, often seen in exposed ceiling beams, open shelving, hood vents, and farmhouse-style tables.'

An enduring feature of modern farmhouse style in interior design is the fusion of vintage and contemporary. For example, plenty of wood on cabinetry, countertops, and ceilings will bring a warm charm that can then be complemented by modern amenities and decorative oddities. 

'Rustic beams are a surefire way to embrace the farmhouse feel,' adds Kristen Fiore. 'By keeping the wood relatively neutral you can ensure it feels more sleek and modern than too rustic and antique,' she advises.

7. A large farmhouse table for cooking and congregating

white kitchen with large rustic wooden dining table in center acting as a kitchen island

(Image credit: Leanne Ford Interiors / Photography Amy Neunsinger / Styling Hilary Robertson)

An inviting atmosphere is essential to any kitchen – only enhanced by the warm, welcoming feel of a modern farmhouse space. 'The joy of a farmhouse is that everyone gathers in the kitchen, so keeping the room open with a big farmhouse kitchen table in the middle is an essential element and a good starting point,' says Helen Parker, creative director of deVOL Kitchens.

'Mixing old and new is perfect, I would tend to go for an antique table that allows for food preparation and dining on a bigger scale,' she advises. 'A pantry cupboard and a prep table, a large sink with workspace around it, a big range cooker and a little modern styling not only for the look but also for practicality – that's what a modern farmhouse kitchen means to us at deVOL.' 

Kristen Fiore agrees. 'Large kitchen tables, or even partial tables, really tie in the rustic farmhouse feel. Clean wide plank floors help balance out the look to keep it modern,' advises Kristen. 

Helen Parker portrait
Helen Parker

Helen is the Creative Director at deVOL, a leading kitchen design company that mixes classic and contemporary. Helen has been creative director at the company since 2011, passionate about the signature understated approach deVOL takes to designing kitchens. 

The modern farmhouse kitchen style is a testament to the beauty of blending old and new. It's about creating a space that feels timeless, where functionality meets old-world charm. A kitchen remodel is a big undertaking, but the key is to balance contemporary elements with rustic details, ensuring a space that not only looks beautiful but feels like home. 

Charlotte Olby
Style & Trends Editor

Charlotte is style and trends editor at Homes and Gardens, and has been with the team since Christmas 2023. Following a 5 year career in Fashion, she has worked at many women's glossy magazines including Grazia, Stylist, and Hello and most recently worked as Interiors Editor for British heritage department store Liberty. Her role at H&G fuses her love of style with her passion for interior design, and she is currently undergoing her second home renovation in Surrey - you can follow her journey over on @olbyhome