The modern farmhouse craze is not that charming! Here’s why this interior look makes more than a few people run for the hills.
Photo: Mint Images – Norah Levine / Getty Images
You’d think I’d be the perfect candidate for the modern farmhouse look. I was raised way out in the sticks of Vermont. I’m a big fan of repurposing old furniture. And I’m known to slam on the brakes when signs for a barn or estate sale come into view.
Plus, several years ago my husband and I bought an old farmhouse in upstate New York, which is kind of the perfect backdrop for some modern farmhouse love.
On the contrary, this tired trend will never set foot in our abode. Over my dead body. And I’m pretty sure my husband agrees, and would have bolted had I started to channel my inner “Fixer Upper.”
Why do I hate modern farmhouse decor with such a passion? Because the thought of rustic wood accents and distressed everything makes me cringe. In my mind, it seems like it’s trying so hard to be cute. And modern farmhouse is way too obvious a decor choice for us, à la, Oh, look, your farmhouse has an apron-front sink and Mason jars on open shelves! I mean, is there nothing new under the sun?
Wwhile I admire the empire built by Chip and Joanna Gaines and the work they’ve done to popularize this design trend, I can’t stand their decor choices.
Many decor experts I’ve spoken with agree, pointing out that this trend isn’t easy to pull off, a lot of the pieces are on the expensive side, and it’s just not authentic. At all.
“Modern farmhouse looks are neither modern nor farmhouse—and the watered-down, artificial nature of this aesthetic means it’s doomed to be nothing but a trend,” explains Michael Diaz-Griffith, an art adviser and design consultant with Material Cult. In fact, some evidence suggests that the allure of modern farmhouse is already fading.
Which is why our sweet farmhouse in the country is decked out with anything and everything but modern farmhouse decor. Allow me to elaborate on all the reasons this hot trend is so not for me.
Inspirational signs make me shudder
Photo by Marmont Hill
They’re kitschy-looking and the sayings are hackneyed—and their grammar cries out for a red pen.
Here’s a doozy: “In this house we do real.” Do real? Real what? Must I be encouraged to “See the good” or “Count my lucky stars” every time I enter the bathroom?
Distressed furniture looks fake
Photo by Spinnaker Development
Shabby chic pieces with half the paint rubbed off can be expensive, and they’re often mass-produced in a factory far away, says Diaz-Griffith. But honestly, you can’t buy charm or authenticity from a big-box store. Instead, wait until you find what you’re searching for in a second-hand store or flea market. Or get lucky with a hand-me-down. (I got a French farm table passed to me by my mother-in-law just when we needed it in the new place.)
What’s with that ginormous clock?
Though I’m blind as a bat, I certainly don’t need a timepiece that’s freakishly large. And oversize farm implements, baskets, and catchalls made from chicken wire and other galvanized accessories are nonstarters, too. Yes, I own a former farmhouse but will never pretend I’m actually living the farm life.
Subway tiles are snoozy
Photo by Gardner Homes
When I’m not upstate, I live and work in New York City and take the subway to work most days. So while I’m dodging the litter and rats as I wait for my train, I’m also spending quality time with subway design underground. Truth? These tiles are perfectly fine, but also rather dull, so why does every modern farmhouse kitchen have plain rectangles on the backsplash?
A mostly white palette is a complete bore
Photo by CJC Interiors
The “modern” part of modern farmhouse nearly always calls for white walls. Why? Give me wild wallpaper any day of the week over an interior with tons of white and greige. I love pattern, and I’m always looking for bits of wall to cover with a great design.
Full disclosure: I nearly cried when my youngest child asked that the pink animal footprint wallpaper I carefully chose when she was a tot be removed from her bedroom ceiling—and painted white.
Open concept is too exposed
Photo by Gardner Homes
Modern farmhouse also calls for an open floor plan. But I’ll be the first to admit I’m a messy cook, which means I don’t want my tiny kitchen opened up to the dining and living rooms, where everyone can watch me burn the Brussels sprouts. And heating a large space in a drafty home that dates to the early 1800s will put me in the poorhouse.
I’m sticking with a bunch of small rooms, thank you very much.
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