Okay, listen. I know you’re here for Farmhouse Exterior Ideas, and I’m going to get there, I promise. But, I just wanted to state upfront that not all trends are bad simply because they’re trendy. Am I preaching to the choir a bit? Yes, of course.
As a kid, I spent every summer and long holiday of her youth on and around farms. And I feel that Farmhouse Exterior style is getting an unfairly bad rap right now. Farmhouse exteriors are comforting, with a classic style. They answer many of our current desires for authenticity while also giving us all the function and ease of living we need right now.
And while one particular regional style may be currently (over)saturating the market, that doesn’t mean that the entire Farmhouse genre is automatically bad! Far from it!
So, if you’re thinking of escaping to the country or already have, I’m here for you (and very jealous!). Or maybe, you still live in town and want to add some rural detailing to your current home. I’m here for that, too!
Today, I’m going to walk you through where the style originally came from, what makes a Farmhouse a Farmhouse, and share tips, tricks, and ideas for your Farmhouse exterior.
Where does Farmhouse Exterior Style come from?
Simply put, a Farmhouse is a functional building whose purpose was to house people who worked on a farm.
Farmers in Germany and Scandinavia started the iteration we’re most familiar with way back in the 17th century. Materials for these structures reflected those found in the area in which they were built.
The people who then immigrated to the US in the 18th century brought the style with them and adapted it with new details as they built new homes.
As people continued to colonize the mid and far west portions of America in the 19th century, they built contemporary styles that still had the fundamental Farmhouse ideals at their core. But the new homes also reflected regional needs and material choices. This is why we have so many Farmhouse styles today.
What makes a Farmhouse, a Farmhouse?
First, you’ll typically find Farmhouse exteriors in predominantly rural settings. Rural, not suburban.
You should absolutely be honest with yourself about your location when it comes to how far to take your design.
A rustic farmhouse exterior in the middle of a busy neighborhood doesn’t make as much sense as it would if you lived on the outskirts of town.
Next, farmhouses are practical. They’re structurally built to last, with sturdy forms and solid details. They’re also easy to care for, with weathered materials that show the test of time and surfaces that can take a beating.
Last, Farmhouse exteriors are timeless. Both the architecture and the details are classic, with pleasingly balanced designs.
They feel comfortable and relaxed but never sloppy. Later additions may have been cobbled on but will always reflect the original structure’s style and proportion.
A farmhouse exterior is never too much, and it always sits comfortably in its surroundings.
What makes up Farmhouse Exterior Style?
As with any exterior style, it’s a combo of Architecture and Details. If you only have one of these, your house is never gonna feel quite right. Real authenticity comes when you have both.
Let’s start with the architecture:
First, your house should have more than one peaked gable. Your farmhouse can be a single story or two, but they rarely have a complicated footprint.
Farmhouses have tall proportions, with everything emphasizing the height of the structure. This means limited horizontal detail and window openings that are tall rectangles.
Next, you can’t have a farmhouse without a deep porch. Gracious enough to fit a few rockers and with a full roof to provide shade and respite from those spring and summer showers.
Then, you’ll almost always find a foundation made from stone – and this is very regional. Original builders were literally using the stones they removed from the fields before farming so that each area will have a different standard stone.
And finally, the details are all straightforward. No fussy curves, no added fanciness, with simple trim, window, and door details. That porch may have a few decorative details, but nothing too over the top.
What are some typical Farmhouse Exterior Styles?
Again, these homes are the most authentic and honest when they reflect the style of the region that they’re in. And there are a few different styles that you’ll find in the US:
All White Farmhouse Curb Appeal
First up, the classic Farmhouse exterior look – all white siding, trim, windows, and doors, with only small accents of other natural materials. But this timeless white finish has a long history for a particular reason.
Buildings were covered with a mineral wash to prevent mildew from growing on the surfaces when Europeans were first building in the colonies. This classic look has carried through right on till this day, in fresh new finishes.
Classics are classics for a reason! No matter the region, this scheme always feels right. And it really lets the architecture speak louder than the finish, so make sure your house has the structure to carry this look off. You want a building that has clean lines, no weird add-ons, and lots of clean surfaces to really make this look shine.
- Keep the roof simple with straightforward asphalt or shake roof, but accent the porch with a metal standing seam roof.
- Farmhouses are simple, so match all of the trim to the color of the horizontal lap siding. This means windows, eaves, fascia, railings, everything!
- Add a touch of warmth with a wood door with a 3/4 glass lite to round it all out and keep it rural.
First, pick a warm, clean white to cover all the surfaces on the house. Alternate the paint finish, and use a glossier finish on the trim and railings to keep your exterior from feeling flat.
Then, find a simple, neutral charcoal asphalt shingle for the roof—Accent the porch with a metal standing seam roof in a color close to the shingles.
Next, a mid-tone wood door and deck floor bring a touch of warmth to this whole scheme. Dark hardware, lighting, and accessories in traditional forms keep this scheme authentic.
Last, soften the windows with white window boxes planted with seasonal flowers and grasses.
Stone Farmhouse Curb Appeal
Stone Farmhouses are the other really traditional style. This is also one that is super regional. The stone’s shape, color, and size are entirely based on what was being pulled out of the ground when the farmland was cleared. If you’re building from scratch today, though, there are a whole bunch of really good faux stone veneers that can give you this classic look without the expense of building a stone structure.
Again, a straightforward and classic style that really brings a rural feeling to any structure. Stone farmhouses typically have their gables on the ends of the house instead of facing the street.
Which brings me to a really common question: is it a cottage or a farmhouse? Each style uses similar colors and materials, and both are rural buildings, but there are some distinct differences.
Since the overall structures are going to be similar, the biggest difference will be the exterior materials and the way the windows are treated. Cottages involved more curves and arches and typically have more than one siding material. You’ll also see a lot more wood in the finishes. The windows of a cottage are most often divided into odd numbers (6, 9, or 12), while a farmhouse is usually even-numbered (usually 2 or 4).
LEARN MORE ABOUT COTTAGE STYLE IN MY PREVIOUS KNOW YOUR HOME POST.
- With a really busy siding material like stone, you’ll want to match that effect with the roof texture. A faux wood shake is a perfect way to get that texture.
- Painted trim is minimal on these homes, and all of the trim is typically painted to match the color of the mortar between the stones. Sometimes, you will see a real color like red or ochre, but this is a really regional look.
- Differently from other styles we’re looking at, the windows on a stone farmhouse will have a stone lintel to support the wall over window openings.
First, select a stone veneer that makes sense with your region and location. Anything called ‘fieldstone’ is a great place to start. I like to lean a little warmer for these houses, but softer whitewashed stones are becoming more popular.
Then, compliment that busy stone with a dark faux wood shake roof to keep the look grounded. A paint color that matches that light mortar keeps everything tied together.
Next, a painted entry door and deck to match the room. Keep everything cohesive. A transitional form of two-tone copper barn light and soft nickel hardware and accessories keep this scheme feeling warm and weathered. A bronze rural mailbox keeps the look going all the way to the curb.
Last, soften the windows with faux wood window boxes planted with herbs and easy-to-care for plants.
Rustic Farmhouse Curb Appeal
Rustic farmhouse seems like it’s saying the same thing twice. But there is a distinct look to some of these homes that more closely relate to outbuildings like barns than to a modern residence. But I love the play of textures on these finishes, the way they proudly wear their age and weathering, and how they start to blend into the rural surroundings.
This is a really neutral scheme that plays into the colors of nature. Lots of influence here from barns and wood fences, and all those natural colors can be a really fun backdrop to pops of foilage and metallic finishes. BUT, take the term ‘rustic’ only so far – because you want your house to stand the test of time, but look it’s age, too.
- Pre-weathered vertical siding, and some trim, starts this style off. Then keep the rustic feeling going with a wood shake roof to balance all that visual texture in the siding.
- Again, painted trim is minimal on these homes, and all of the trim is typically painted to match the color of the siding. It should just blend in.
- Window details should be subtle, and let the siding really be the star. At night, these homes look inviting and cozy as the lights gleam through the windows surrounded by the weathered and rustic siding.
First, figure out your siding. This style is ALL about the siding. I love the options from Montana Timber Products to keep the look rustic but still sturdy enough to build with.
Then, complement that gorgeous siding with a slightly darker faux wood shake roof to keep the look grounded. Decking should follow suit with the siding color but in a more durable composite board. You want everything to blend and look like it’s always been that way.
Next, a dark-painted entry door and a more subtle light trim color break the wood finishes. Galvanized aluminum and nickel hardware bring a bit of sparkle. I especially love this door knob set because that little bit of detail feels special with a rustic siding like this one.
Last, soften the windows with boxes planted with loose grasses and shrubs in a metal planter with just a bit of decorative detail on it.
All Dark Farmhouse Curb Appeal
And now we’re edging into more modern territory. But all dark farmhouses are not a new invention; they’ve been done all over the world for centuries. But this style feels especially modern now, as the look provides such a great contrast against its surroundings and feels fresh and new.
A crisp, clean look that lends itself to modern shapes and rustic finishes, this style looks good on just about every shape and style of farmhouse. (I’d probably avoid this one if I had a ton of masonry or stone on my exterior). And even though it’s pretty trendy right now, I think this is one trend that will stand the test of time.
- When you go all dark like this, it’s best to put that deep color over abit of texture, like a vertical panel siding with a rough grain finish, or something with a deep v-groove to keep some light play. And go with a glossier finish to keep the light moving around.
- Dark on dark is the classic move here, with a matching standing seam metal roof on both the house and the porch
- Everything else is really subtle – paint it all the same tone, and let the architecture and texture provide the interest.
First, go for the drama with a dark, but not black, paint color on all the surfaces. I love Urbane Bronze from Sherwin-Willams for this because it’s dark, but you can still put black with it, and they don’t totally blend in.
Then, keep the roof darker but not black to provide a subtle lift from the vertical siding. Composite decking in a weathered finish breaks up all the dark tones and gives a bit of light to the porch.
Next, speaking of porch lights, a really modern shape on this barn light in a black finish gives just the right amount of modernity while still feeling rural. This lockset is very old in its form, but the matte black finish makes it feel new again. A modern matte finish on the mailbox gives the same effect.
Last, soften the windows with faux concrete widow boxes planted with dark and dramatic herbs and plants to give a modern vibe with a bit of softness.
Modern Farmhouse Curb Appeal
The most modern look of this style is all about the architecture and less about the materials or even the color. There are distinct details that make a farmhouse modern.
While the overall size, shape, and proportion are the same on a traditional farmhouse, the modern one is much cleaner, with reduced or no eaves, a simple porch roof, and no porch railing. The windows and doors are simplified, too. The rest is just materials and colors.
WORKING WITH A RANCH HOUSE? CHECK OUT MORE MODERN FARMHOUSE STYLE WITH MY PREVIOUS KNOW YOUR HOME POST.
The biggest statement I can make about modern farmhouse style is that it does NOT have to be black and white! Look at all that gorgeous wood! The delicious textures! The variety! So while black and white is classic, it’s not your only option by any means. The key is to make the architecture modern and then do as you like with the color.
- I do like a bit of texture on the siding, to keep the finishes interesting.
- Again, while I’m showing black and white, it’s absolutely not your only option.
- When in doubt, keep it clean, crisp and subtle.
First, make sure that architecture is in order. Then selection a clean, natural white finish for the board and batten siding. The more rural texture with a modern color is what is really nice about this style.
Then, go dark with the standing seam roof. Composite decking in a dark but weathered finish breaks up all the keeps the look clean and contemporary.
Next, select a simple modern door in a contrasting black color to help it to blend into the architecture. A bright nickel light and door handle in modern shapes bring some interest and keep the exterior from feeling too flat. A streamlined rural mailbox in a shiny black finish keeps it contemporary.
Last, soften the windows with black window boxes planted with various textures, and a pop of color in the plantings help to give a bit of life to this scheme.
And there you go! Farmhouse exterior style doesn’t have to be one thing or be looked down on because it’s popular. Keep your choices authentic to your architecture and region, and then enjoy it!
And hey, if you need some help figuring out what to do with your own farmhouse, I’d love to help!