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Design Focus: Farmhouse Style

When we imagine a farmhouse, retro, cozy and comfortable come to mind. The Farmhouse style is considered traditional and American, with some English and French influences. Everything about the style suggests an openness, ideal for long leisurely visits, family gatherings and a spread of home cooked meals.

Traditionally built on sprawling rural lands to form courtyards, connected to one or more barns, this style could be seen as sleepy and dated; but to others it’s easy, casual and not overdone. Farmhouse designs make delightful and elegant vacation homes, combining the best of modern and old-fashioned. The style is similar to Country style, diverging at the level of sophistication. With the rapid pace of modernity in building technology, Farmhouse style is enjoying a resurgence on the scene, which demonstrates its longevity.

WHAT MAKES IT A FARMHOUSE?

Farmhouse design does not have an official definition, but it does come with its own distinct character. Functionality is the term most often used to describe the style. The function traditionally came out of necessity for the inhabitants, who either owned or worked the adjoining farm. The design has had its share of updates, but still maintains common classic characteristics like the porch, that stretches along the front of the house, and may wrap around to the side or rear. It also features steeply pitched gable roofs, running along the length of the home, and spacious, well appointed kitchens.

A Farmhouse style home will often have large openings to accommodate large items and groups of people passing through the doorways. The sense of space is ideal for many Canadians who adopted this style because, unlike their American counterparts, their porches are often enclosed. These large openings will allow for amazing views, breaking down indoor and outdoor barriers and allows the house to flow and breathe.

The classic feel of the Farmhouse style with its wrap-around porch and tactile nature might seem messy to modernists. However, these same elements have a warm minimalist appeal, reminiscent of a simpler time.

ITS ORIGINS

As the name suggests, Farmhouse style serves as the primary residence in a rural or agricultural setting. Historically the homes were often combined with space for animals called a housebarn. It is also known as ‘folk’ houses influenced by geography, people, climate and material that was available in the region at the time. The earliest Farmhouses can be traced back to the early colonial families of the 1700s. The owners would most likely build their own homes, as opposed to hiring an architect or builder, due to financial constraints.

Many Farmhouses began as very modest structures, built to accommodate families. As the style evolved in the mid 19th century, with increased access to resources, Farmhouse builders could experiment with other styles of the moment. Many Farmhouses borrow elements from other styles like Greek columns, to produce a Greek Revival Farmhouse, or some stained glass for a Gothic flavour.

ELEMENTS OF THE FARMHOUSE DESIGN

Elegant and comfortable, the style keeps it simple and organic. One of the most convenient aspects of the Farmhouse style is its flexibility, allowing for the mixing and matching of personal tastes. Any home can embrace the vibe, regardless of the landscape, due to its ability to highlight elements of your choice with simple adjustments to the finer details.

Much of Farmhouse living is done outside, so the porch is the most identifiable component of the style. A frontal or wrap-around porch sets the tone for the rest of the house. If space is limited, then a balcony or patio works. It’s not so much about the size, but getting the aesthetics right. Decorate your porch with potted plants, a few rocking chairs and lanterns to complete the look.

Materials make all the difference. One of the classic characteristics of a modern Farmhouse design is natural looking woodwork. Wood is a major component and is used throughout the house. Exposed beam ceilings are classic and are often paired with hardwood flooring. Stone or brick features, both inside and out, typically lend texture and contrast to the wood.

Whether classic or modern, a big open kitchen is as much a part of the style as the porch. Authentic wooden countertops today are often replaced with natural granite in a modern styled Farmhouse. The kitchen is usually uncomplicated and vibrant, highlighted with neutral colours like greys and off-whites to maintain the warmth of the space. If you want to add a touch of colour, do so sparingly, or incorporate an eclectic mix of furnishings to meet your unique style needs. Of course no Farmhouse kitchen would be complete without large open shelves and plenty of cabinets.

A Farmhouse is typically built in a rectangular shape, and designed with further additions in mind, to adjust to the possibility of an expanding family. The style comes with a simple gable roof, built at a 45 degree angle to make it easier for expansion. Over the years, the style has remained more or less the same, although some have made adjustments to add architectural appeal.

Elements like the classic Farmhouse fireplace can be achieved with the use of a vintage mantel and very affordable stone cladding. Wooden furnishings like cabinets and side tables lend to the charm of the interior, with a blend of vintage and modern. Stick to soft  fabrics and colours for that authentic Farmhouse feel.

FARMHOUSE STYLE IN CANADA

Canadian Farmhouses were and still are being influenced by American and European design. In Quebec, you’ll find styles ranging from Gothic to Swiss, with the kitchen as the centrepiece. The 19th century Victorian era influenced the Farmhouses in Ontario, moving from board to brick over time. From 1850 onwards many were inspired by other styles like the Greek Revival and Carpenter Gothic. Many Canadian Farmhouse homes have front porches. However, due to the cooler climate, Canadian porches are a little different in that they are typically enclosed, unlike their American counterpart. The Farmhouse style has become popular in Canadian rural communities as well. Today, there’s a growing interest in the simple, back to nature lifestyle and the Farmhouse symbolizes that ideal.

BRINGING THE FARMHOUSE ELEMENT TO YOUR HOME

When choosing the finishes, you want to keep things simple, organic, and comfortable. Exposed wood beams, hardwood floors, and wide wood trim around doors and windows, with a spacious kitchen, will help give your interior a farmhouse vibe. On the exterior, the wraparound porch is ideal, but even a small porch with wood railing will help achieve the Farmhouse look. Cultured Stone® Cobblefield® stone veneer accents and features, fireplaces, and even entire walls, finished with traditional hand-tooled mortar joints, can add the traditional rustic charm and warmth.

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