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The Evolution of Farmhouse Kitchen Design

Europe’s Influence on Farmhouse Style

Simplicity, warmth, and rustic neutrals are the baseline for farmhouse design. It’s a cozy and soothing décor that speaks to the human spirit, which is why it’s been around, in one form or another, for centuries.

It was a natural part of country and farm living in Europe and America but made its modern resurgence in 1989 as “shabby chic”. City dwellers who desired the laidback look and feel used the country style and lightened it with florals and modern amenities.

In the early 2000s, it reinvented itself as “modern farmhouse” thanks to home renovation shows on television. Big names in the industry carried the look through more than a decade.

As we near the quarter mark in this century, beloved farmhouse style is under the microscope. New products made to look distressed to answer the huge demand are starting to feel a bit contrived. A new generation of DIY designers still love the farmhouse look but they want a more authentic approach.

Large white kitchen with farmhouse styling and silver tin tile on the ceiling.

No More Faux Farmhouse

Slowly, the evolution of farmhouse design is moving away from rustic details and more toward old world features that originated in another era but aren’t trying to be something they’re not. The result? A more European approach to farmhouse style.

For example, French provincial style blends Parisian elegance alongside countryside charm. You might see rustic woodwork next to a crystal chandelier and ornate plaster designs beside plain black soapstone.

Here’s how farmhouse design has, once again, reinvented itself for the contemporary kitchen.

Sage green board and batten farmhouse wall with rustic wood bench in the foreground.

Board and Batten

This classic wall covering features panels of wood framed by trim. It’s both a bit rustic and chic. It was originally used to create a weathertight wall that would keep country winds out, but the look stuck and now it’s a big part of the farmhouse style.

It needs no distressing to look rustic and can be refreshed with a coat of paint so it always looks in good repair. Add it from the floor to halfway up the wall. Using one color for the wall and another for board and batten helps it stand out as a feature of your farmhouse kitchen.

Large farmhouse style dining room with tin ceiling in silver.

Tin Ceiling

An American invention inspired by European plasterwork, tin ceiling is the poster child of Victorian elegance in the U.S. It’s the perfect vintage addition to today’s farmhouse aesthetic.

It comes in various colors, many of which are metallics. Another popular choice is whitewashed tin. It softens the metal with a thin layer of white, which is rubbed off in places creating the look of authentic tin ceilings. You can also go with a more purist look and choose bronze, copper, or plain tin.

While ceilings are the most popular application, consider a feature wall in the kitchen or a backsplash coated with tin.

Authentic Vintage Details

European vintage is different from American vintage by hundreds of years. Adding antiques and vintage elements with the weight of European history behind them go a long way to create an updated farmhouse look.

Go for landscape oil paintings, primitive pottery, or clocks. Chandeliers too are a great addition to make farmhouse feel fresh and authentic.

Close up of silver tin ceiling in a white kitchen with pendant lights.

Restored Antique Furnishings

Furniture, especially antique French furniture is a necessity to get the farmhouse look right. A beautufil wood mantelpiece is an excellent find. Carved buffets and bureaus are great too. Glassware and chandeliers are easy to add to your kitchen and up the elegance.

The key to antique furniture in the farmhouse look is to get it restored. You’ll want to avoid that distressed look and try to keep things in good repair. It’s the design that’s important not the state of disrepair.

Fireplace with large hearth in a vintage styled living room.

Natural Materials

French Provincial design and farmhouse in general, emphasizes natural materials such as wood, stone, and wrought iron. Furniture often features wood and upholstered pieces show a lot of their wood frames.

Stone elements might include exposed brick, river rock fireplaces, or rustic stone countertops. Stone is also a popular choice for the floor. Limestone or travertine floor tiles add a rustic elegance. Even marble can be a great addition to a kitchen with more rustic vibes.

Farmhouse style bathroom with soft, pastel color palette.

Soft Color Palette

The color palette typically includes soft, muted colors inspired by nature. Whites, creams, soft blues, sage greens, and earthy tones are common. These colors create a serene and calming atmosphere.

Don’t be afraid to add some bold colors to accent your neutrals. Jewel tones are a timeless addition that introduces some European history alongside the light, airy colors. Same goes for metallics—a necessity for European-influenced farmhouse look.

Bright, but natural pops are also welcome, especially green. Use plants to add vibrancy without going too far outside softness of your palette.


Graphic showing different fabrics in different textures for a farmhouse look.


Texture is an important aspect of the new farmhouse designs. Fabrics like linen, cotton, and toile are frequently used for upholstery, curtains, and bedding. These textiles add visual interest and a sense of comfort.

Fabrics can be employed in unusual places that you might not expect. Use them as a wall covering like a luxurious wallpaper to add texture and an added softness to the walls.

Farmhouse styled bedroom with patterned fabrics.

Patterned Fabrics

Take a cue from traditional French Provincial design and incorporate patterned fabrics, such as toile de Jouy. Toile is a classic pattern depicting pastoral scenes, often in a single color on a light background.

It brings in instant country vibes that are soft and cozy and something different than the geometrics of modern design or the florals of granny chic, which are both popular additions to versions of farmhouse design of the past.

Large room with large proportioned furniture.

Proportion and Scale

Furniture pieces in European farmhouse design tend to be well-proportioned and not overly large or heavy. This maintains a sense of balance and harmony within the space.

Sometimes you may be tempted by large European pieces but that will only work if your kitchen space is large enough. Also keep in mind that overcrowding in the kitchen can be a problem when you select larger pieces.

Open and airy kitchen in the farmhouse style.

Open and Airy Spaces

The design often prioritizes open, airy spaces with plenty of natural light. This creates a sense of comfort and relaxation that echoes the beauty of the countryside. Even if you don’t have country views, letting in the light makes a huge difference in the mood in your kitchen.

Skylights are an excellent addition to the kitchen. They allow you to get the light without the prying eyes of the neighbors or the eyesore of the carport next door.

European-influenced farmhouse design exudes a timeless and elegant charm that celebrates the beauty of the rural. It's a style that blends rustic and refined elements to create a warm and inviting living space and it’s the next iteration of farmhouse design. With roots in Europe, it’s a blend that will surely remain timeless in your kitchen.


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