A Guide to Modern Farmhouse Construction: Background, Trends, and Inspiration

Key Takeaways

  • The modern farmhouse has been a prevailing new construction look and interior design style in homes built since around 2015, gaining popularity in-part thanks to the rise in home makeover television shows like HGTV’s Fixer Upper with Joanna and Chip Gaines.
  • Recognized for simple lines, neutral colors, lots of natural light, and open spaces, modern farmhouse plans tend to embrace more classic materials. White exteriors with vertical siding (often board and batten) is a hallmark of this style, as are gable roofs, black trim for windows, simple covered porches, large and open family gathering areas, lap siding on interiors, built ins, and floating shelves.

The Farmhouse Style Background, Explained

A Ironstone custom home

Alright, so what makes the modern farmhouse a modern farmhouse?

Forbes describes today’s modern farmhouse construction and style as including “elements of industrial and primitive style; loosely defined as rustic, yet chic, contemporary, yet country, modern farmhouse style marries what we hope is the best of old and new.” According to the same article, the term modern farmhouse was first coined by the New York Times in 2016, putting an elegant name to a style that has since captured the American imagination.

Traditional farmhouse plans typically feature family gathering areas, grouped bedrooms, country kitchens, and formal front rooms. Modern farmhouses, however, may have open layouts and split bedrooms.

As custom home builders and renovation contractors in Lancaster for four decades, we’ve seen a lot of styles come and go over the years, and few have had the staying power of the modern farmhouse. There’s a lot to like, in fact, largely because the modern farmhouse is pulling some of the best of old-world charm and combining it with more modern functionality. Is the modern farmhouse here to stay? That’s not for me to say, but I find many of the styles and materials compelling as a custom home builder. And, as I like to think about it, “quality never goes out of style.”

Where Did The Modern Farmhouse Look Originate?

Modern farmhouse style homes are inspired by OLD farmhouse style homes.

As a modern builder with an appreciation for both history and contemporary design, I find this new look fascinating.

Its origins trace back to the classic American farmhouses of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, which were designed for functionality to support large farming families. These old homes were straightforward, durable, and easy to maintain, principles that are still important in today’s construction standards. Influences from the minimalist Scandinavian design and the craftsmanship-focused Shaker style are also part of the look, emphasizing clean lines, functional layouts, and the use of authentic, natural materials that are aesthetically pleasing, long-lasting, and often sourced easily.

That rustic countryside charm is also preserved in modern farmhouse design through elements like barn doors and reclaimed wood. In recent years, there’s been a cultural shift towards sustainability and even that more grounded, “authentic” lifestyle, which has further fueled the popularity of the style. As a builder, I enjoy working with clients to blend these historical and modern influences to create homes that are rich in character but also built to meet contemporary standards of efficiency and comfort we’re all looking for.

The Farmhouse Look, Explained

So, what makes the modern farmhouse quintessentially modern?

Modern farmhouse designs cater to various needs with any range of square footage, from small and affordable small sq. ft. plans to expansive designs, suitable for different household sizes and plots of land.

Common Modern Farmhouse Interior Design Elements

  • An Open Floor Plan: Emphasizes spacious, airy living areas that flow seamlessly into each other.
  • A Neutral Color Palette: Utilizes whites, grays, and beiges to create a soothing atmosphere.
  • Reclaimed Wood Elements: Incorporates aged or weathered wood in flooring, beams, or furniture for a touch of rustic charm.
  • Shiplap Walls: Horizontal or vertical wooden boards that add texture or “country” flair, often seen in the laundry room with built-in storage or in the master bathroom.
  • Modern Lighting: Clean, simple light fixtures often with a metal or matte black finish.
  • Barn Doors: A sliding wooden door that can add fun character.
  • Apron Sinks: A large, deep sink, typically made of porcelain or stainless steel that recalls truly older farmhouse kitchens.
  • Exposed Beams: Wooden beams on ceilings to enhance the rustic feel while adding architectural interest, particularly in the now-ubiquitous “great room”.
  • Vintage Accents and Artifacts: Elements like antique mirrors, old farm tools, or vintage signs make up the decor you might see in farmhouse home styles.
  • Mixed Materials: Modern farmhouses often combines different textures like metal with wood and soft textiles to balance old and new.
A Ironstone Homes custom kitchen with some modern farmhouse flair

Farmhouse Exterior Design Features:

  • Gabled Roofs: Prominent, steeply pitched roofs, often with metal roofing are common on modern farmhouses.
  • Board and Batten Siding: Vertical siding that offers a clean, textured look, often in a white exterior.
  • Front Porch: Large, welcoming porches often with wooden rocking chairs or porch swings are common to modern farmhouses.
  • Garage: Many of the garages on a new home built with a modern farmhouse plan feature significant square footage (vehicles are bigger these days) and carriage-style doors.
  • Land: In Southeastern Pennsylvania, many of the homes we built have a significant amount of land and thus landscaping, though you can apply the modern farmhouse look to any size of house.
  • Natural Materials: You’ll see frequent use of stone and brick to complement wood or more natural elements..
  • Outdoor Living Spaces: Areas like covered patios, wraparound porches, a large back porch, outdoor kitchens, or fire pits that encourage outdoor living.
  • Symmetrical Design: Balanced windows and doors that create a symmetrical or even harmonious exterior appearance.
  • Large Windows: Often with black trim, they allow for plenty of natural light and to blur the indoor-outdoor connection.
  • Lantern-Style Lighting: Exterior lighting that features lantern-like designs.
  • Simple Landscaping: Natural, easy-to-maintain gardens with native plants and minimalistic designs are common on modern farmhouses.
  • White or Light Exterior Paint: Often paired with dark window frames and trim for a striking contrast.
A new build with some common farmhouse elements

Modern Farmhouse Plans and Style Inspiration

With some of the basics out of the way, below are modern farmhouse pictures for inspiration from recent builds we’ve done.

From sprawling, gabled roofs to cozy, shiplap-lined interiors, these photos highlight how we’ve worked with clients to bring the quintessential elements of farmhouse design into the 21st century. Remember, while we help clients with interior and exterior design all the time, our goal is to bring YOUR dream home to life, no matter where your style or preferences take us on that journey.

A new custom build with some modern farmhouse design inspiration

A modern farmhouse dining room in a Ironstone Homes custom build

A modern farmhouse bathroom style

Considering a Custom Home or Addition In the Lancaster Region?

At Ironstone Homes, we strive for versatility and (most important) expertise in bringing any architectural style to life.

Whether you’re drawn to the rustic charm of a modern farmhouse or have a completely different vision in mind, we’re here to make your dream home build, addition, or renovation a reality.

Explore our portfolio, get inspired, and let’s discuss how we can tailor our building solutions to match your style and needs. Contact us today to start your journey toward a beautifully crafted home that reflects your personal taste and lifestyle.


Trevor Eby

Trevor Eby is the owner and principal at Ironstone Homes. Trevor handles home sales & planning from start to finish, working closely with clients to craft a plan and home that makes sense for their family. Trevor is also a licensed Realtor with Kingsway Realty, giving clients well-rounded service and insight into all facets of the housing industry.

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