Interior Design

10 mistakes we're making with modern farmhouse decor – and how to get it right,

To nail the modern farmhouse look in your home, be sure to avoid these 10 decorating mistakes

three examples of modern farmhouse decor mistakes. Dark kitchen with wooden ceiling, blue cabinetry. Rustic kitchen with tiled flooring, bright orange stove, blue and white tiled splashback, pots and pans on rack on wall. Cozy living room with sofa, ottoman, floral curtains, map artwork on wall.
(Image credit: Paul Raeside | Future)

To make sure we're not over-committing and are, instead, adopting the right tricks to create the perfect modern farmhouse style, we've rounded up the 10 modern farmhouse decor mistakes that we're making when decorating – and how you can turn them around.

Modern farmhouse style perfectly blends contemporary finishes with cozy, often natural elements for a refined rustic aesthetic. The key is to always remember the importance of the word 'modern' in your decor. You want to keep the look fresh as well as inviting by celebrating imperfections and mixing natural elements, like wood and linen, with contemporary touches, like brushed metals and neutral color palettes.

Modern farmhouse ideas take the charm and warmth of country elements and ensure they're given an updated look that fits with modern life; they're fuss-free and functional. However, problems can sometimes arise when we take the 'farmhouse' theme too literally and run like the wind with it…

10 modern farmhouse decor mistakes to avoid

Whether you're exploring the differences between a modern farmhouse style and traditional farmhouse decor ideas and want to know what to avoid in order to create a more modern look or simply need some fresh new inspiration for your farmhouse kitchen, let us take you through the top 10 mistakes you should be avoiding in your scheme.

1. Taking 'modern farmhouse' too literally

White country kitchen, updated units and cupboards with white doors and handles on stilts, butler sink, panelled wall with white shelves containing crockery and glassware, pretty floral curtain in window, grey industrial style pendant lights,

(Image credit: Future)

The last thing any decorator wants is for a home to look too themed.

'Think about the essence of a farmhouse and not the literal interpretation,' says Kirsten Krason, co-founder of House of Jade Interiors. For example? 'Don't buy signs to hang on the wall that says "farm-fresh eggs", instead have a vintage egg gathering basket displayed on your shelf.'

2. The look is more shabby than chic

White dining room with paneled walls, large dining table with flowers, wooden dining chairs, tabelware

(Image credit: Future)

We love a good furniture hack and upcycling project, especially when uplifting a tired, old piece of furniture through colorful painted furniture ideas, but remember, don't get too carried away, otherwise you'll end up with a farmhouse design that feels more shabby than chic.

Kirsten Krason says, 'bring in some modern elements to mix up the style and keep things unpredictable. Often, we see people doing "farmhouse" as very simple and basic, but that doesn't mean your finishes and appliances need to be basic. Bring in a few high-end finishes to make your farmhouse feel more custom.'

3. Your color palette's gone wild

Window seat with blue and yellow cushions and colourful floral curtains. Nest of tables. Modern artwork in blue.

(Image credit: Polly Eltes)

Neutral room ideas are a key element for a curated modern farmhouse look. It acts as a perfect backdrop for blending styles and also ensures your home doesn't feel too eclectic or rustic. Layer your neutrals, like creams, soft pinks and browns, for a warm look that feels fresh.

That's not to say you cannot bring in color or mix a collection of different fabric types or patterns, just remember that modern farmhouse champions more earthy, grounding color palettes for room color ideas, rather than an impactful use of vivid bright shades.

Emma Sims-Hilditch, of design studio Sims Hilditch, suggests, 'when it comes to choosing fabrics, try pairing multiple patterns and materials such as a chunky linen with a smooth velvet in a similar color palette.'

4. Neglecting to add color contrast

modern farmhouse mistakes

(Image credit: Lindsay Salazar/House of Jade Interiors)

As discussed, neutrals are often preferred for a modern farmhouse look, but creating a stylish element of contrast through colorful accents will create a scheme that feels well-balanced and modern.

Whether it's colorful pendant lighting, a statement work of art, or embracing a painted accent wall, these colorful touches will help to add a modern edge to the finished farmhouse look.

Look to inky blues and greens that sit well in a natural setting, and use them on textured surfaces like wall paneling to add depth. Explore blue room ideas and green room ideas for further inspiration.

5. Buying 'fast furniture' to get the look

Kitchen detail, stone floor, teal kitchen units with white worktops and lantern pedants.

(Image credit: Paul Raeside)

Modern farmhouse celebrates the historic and allows us to enjoy a simpler way of life while adding a contemporary design-led perspective. 

Don't get rid of lived-in pieces, or replace them with get-the-look furniture, it's all about longevity, character, and more sustainable and eco-decor. Authenticity is key – make the patina a focal point; a beautiful, rustic kitchen table will be a talking-point piece as well as a practical social hub.

6. Not mixing modern and vintage

modern farmhouse mistakes

(Image credit: Travis J Photography/House of Jade Interiors)

Be sure to throw in some vintage-style pieces to add character to that crisp all-white backdrop. Finding harmony between the old and new is essential to the look.

Interior designer Marie Flanigan says, 'whether passed down through the family over generations or found at a local flea market, antiques are an important factor in the modern farmhouse design formula. The character and patina of vintage furnishings lend a welcome sense of warmth and texture to every space, creating a cozy vibe that feels lovingly collected over time.'

Vintage-style rugs are a beautiful way to breathe life into the space, or an antique piece used in an individual way to add personality.

For further inspiration, explore how to decorate with vintage and how to decorate with antiques.

7. Overlooking the importance of art

modern farmhouse mistakes

(Image credit: Future / Davide Lovatti)

Decorating with art can effortlessly transform the look and feel of a room, and the simple addition of well-placed vintage-style art can lift a space by injecting life and character. 

Still life scenes work particularly well in a modern farmhouse kitchen, think fruits and culinary depictions, while bucolic landscapes are another great choice. Add them to open shelving for that perfect mix of old meets new.

8. Covering original features and not using natural materials

Kitchen with mirror tiled wall, white walls, and dark blue kitchen island with bar stools.

(Image credit: Davide Lovatti)

Interior designers all agree that reclaimed wood is an essential element of the modern farmhouse look. Expose those old wooden beams for wood ceiling ideas and, if your home doesn't have them, you can always use shiplap to get the look, on ceilings as well as walls.

Emma Sims-Hilditch says, 'one way to get this look (if budget allows) is to open up ceilings to expose the rafters and make the most of the height. Alternatively, adding materials such as lime-washed timber cladding to walls and ceilings can immediately transform a room.'

Marie Flanigan also advises not to underestimate the power of shiplap, calling it an 'architectural staple'. She says, 'it’s an element that can be incorporated into virtually any room in your home, and it has an uncanny ability to blend into nearly any aesthetic. 

From the most intimate reading nook in a coastal cottage to the living room of a rustic mountain home, shiplap is a wonderful farmhouse element that contributes depth and character to any space.

Treat shiplap like any other wall – don’t be afraid to break it up with windows, doors, and art for visual rest.'

9. It's all too cluttered

Rustic kitchen with tiled flooring, exposed brick walls, bright orange cooker, pots and pans on rack hanging from wall, kitchen island, blue and white square tiled splashback

(Image credit: Future)

Semi-minimalism is key to modern farmhouse decor – this is not higgledy-piggledy country-cluttered. 

Keep things contemporary by ensuring your shelves and consoles are dressed simply with only your favorite curated objects and antiques – there's no room for dusty knick-knacks here.

10. Forgetting to add industrial elements

Entrance hall library with wooden floorboards, eggshell cabinet, beige upholstered footstool and window with floral pattern curtains

(Image credit: Paul Raeside)

Comforting and cozy farmhouse decor needs to be mixed with another style to add the 'modern' – and industrial decor is perfect for this. 

Whether it's pendant lighting, or steel or concrete kitchen islands and kitchen countertops, the addition of industrial elements injects the grit needed for a fresh, modern edge.

Is modern farmhouse going out of style?

One of the most popular decorating styles to embrace in homes both classic and contemporary, modern farmhouse is definitely here to stay.

The essence of the modern farmhouse aesthetic is utterly timeless; championing enduring natural materials and color palettes rooted in nature, this style can adapt to your space for years to come. 

2023 interior design trends are all about an eclectic mix of styles and uniting the old with the new, and modern farmhouse decor can work with a whole host of other styles; from vintage to Scandi-inspired minimalism and maximalist decor, making it incredibly adaptable.

What colors are modern farmhouse?

Traditional farmhouse decor embraces a color palette rooted in the natural world, beautifully complementing natural materials such as wood, brick and stone. 

Modern farmhouse definitely favors more neutral, calming color palettes, think grays, beige, browns and warming creams – but colorful accents can also be incorporated, too.

2023 color trends see a wave of 'new neutrals' taking the stage, from earthy pinks to buttery yellows and deep greens and blues, these more muted colors can work wonderfully with a modern farmhouse look.

Zara Stacey
Managing Editor

Zara is the Managing Editor at Homes & Gardens. She joined the brand in February 2022 as an Interiors Content Editor, specializing in writing content on interior color trends, decorating ideas and design inspiration. After studying English Literature at University, she worked as an Ecommerce Website Editor, Content Writer and Buying Intern at multiple independent businesses within the luxury retail and lifestyle sectors. She enjoys nothing more than discovering new trends, brands and products, whether that be in fashion, interior design or lifestyle.

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