On a long enough timeline, words stop making sense. Farmhouse style, or Farmhouse Decor or whatever you want to call it doesn’t make sense. It’s completely devoid of context and just seems to be a name for “contemporary” with shitty couches and interior barn doors.
Let’s dive in.
In the ’80s movie, Baby Boom, starring Diane Keaton, Harold Ramis, and a cross-eyed baby, the main character is a big time advertising executive in a male dominated world. Her bosses want to make her a partner, but they’re worried her womb might ruin her work ethic. She lives in this beautiful, modern ’80s, art deco inspired New York loft.
Suddenly, Diane Keaton inherits a baby (because that’s how that works) and her whole world falls apart. Harold Ramos looks at her and goes “Nah fam. I’m out.” Her bosses go “Oh snap, you missed a conference call, you’re fired.” and her whole life goes to hell. So she buys a farm house in the classified section of the newspaper and moves out to the country.
When she gets there, it’s just an old run down country farm house. And in the ’80s, there wasn’t “Farmhouse” as an aesthetic. It was called “Country Home”. It sucked then, but it made sense. It was it’s own thing.
In “Baby Boom”, country home decor was set juxtaposed to modernism. And that makes sense. It relied on warm woods, antiques, stone hearths, classic table clothes, butcher blocks, and worn rugs. The idea of a the classic “farm house” (two words) aesthetic, is that it’s a warm functional, lived-in space that conjures images of fresh apple pie and large family dinners.
But one night, the Country Home decor drank one too many wines and stumbled over into the contemporary living room and they had awkward shameful sex. Nine months later, “Farmhouse” (one word) was born.
Farmhouse design is the worst. It’s a bastard self entitled step-child. It has all the coldness of modern contemporary design, combined with formless couches, random exposed wood, out of context use of twine and rope as a “finish”. It completely misses the point of both modernism and the country home. It’s aesthetic black face. I find it offensive on every level. The worst part? Farmhouse design makes liars of the people who adopt it.
You’re not a farmer. Your house was never a farm house. You don’t even like having guests over. Your decor is trying to say things about you that aren’t true. It’s trendy and pointless and I fear it will stick around as long as Tuscan did. Why? Because it’s stupid in all the ways that Tuscan decor was stupid. We’ll go into that some other day.
It’s one thing to fix up an old farm house and keep some of the original touches while modernizing the space. It’s another thing to slap palette wood on an otherwise contemporary kitchen island and brag about how “down to earth” you are. People spend a lot of money to look this clueless.
The bottom line is this. Different flavors of interior design carry with them connotations about the people who live in those spaces. Contemporary spaces, while cold, convey a sense of order, control, power and prestige. Country homes speak to the residents warmth, openness and emphasis on family. And in “Baby Boom” (yup back on that again) those two decors perfectly told the story of Diane Keaton’s character.
Modern day Farmhouse is trying too hard to be both, and ultimately fails completely. It’s the perfect interior design trend for the try-hard middle manager who leads by destroying the self-esteem of his employees. The bright-toothed smiling face of a PTA dad who supports school segregation. It’s for the person who “backs the blue” and considers themselves a fiscal conservative, even though they have $150,000 dollars in credit card debt.
When choosing your home decor, really think about who you are, and who you want to be. I promise, if you’re reading this blog, you’re not Farmhouse.