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The Master Guide to Modernising the Rustic Farmhouse Style

August 31, 2023

Countryside vibes in the city.

If the recent homes we’ve seen are anything to go by, the farmhouse design is making a comeback in Singapore. And it’s not difficult to see why, given that the concept of idyllic living and being surrounded by picturesque scenery instantly imbues a sense of calm.

But of course, living in the 21st century also means there’s a need to give the classic farmhouse aesthetic a modern twist. Here are some ways to do so:

1. Throw in shiny surfaces to the mix

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Let’s start with the foundations of any farmhouse interior: an open plan layout for a bright and airy look, using white (or a close alternative) as your base colour. Then, couple it with generous use of wood/wood-look materials.

Now to add a modern twist: incorporate white marble and metallic surfaces that are typically seen in contemporary homes. As this resale flat proves, these can complement the overall aesthetic really well when done right!

2. Go all out with paneling, but think sleek…

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Whether it’s wainscoting on your walls, or shaker style cabinets in place of flat-fronted ones, paneling is undoubtedly a quintessential piece of the farmhouse pie.

But notice how it doesn’t feel in-your-face, despite all the cabinets and walls in this resale flat having some form of paneling? Well, that’s because the owners have adopted an all-white aesthetic, clean lines and very little decor for a sleek, minimalist look that’s gained popularity in the last decade (i.e. as contemporary as it gets).

3. …or be prudent in your use of classic farmhouse elements

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Shiplap is another detail you’d want to include, but it’s crucial that you don’t go… overboard with it. Okay, that was a bad shipping pun.

But in all seriousness, an important principle in giving the farmhouse look a modern twist is to apply its classic elements in small doses. In this example, shiplap details have been limited to the wardrobe, and paneling reserved for a feature wall.

The space is then finished off with contemporary touches like track and down lights, resulting in an apartment that’s at once ‘countryside’ and urban.

Explore: A 37-Year-Old HDB Maisonette in Hougang Gets Modern Farmhouse Revamp

4. Don’t be afraid to weave in pops of colour

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While we started out by suggesting to adopt a white base, it doesn’t in any way mean you can’t have colour.

Case in point: this resale flat in Tampines that is equal parts country and quirky, without going over the top. Here, you’ll find shaker style cabinets, shiplap, woven textures and even gingham bed linens in shades of blue, coupled by cobalt curtains for visual ‘pop’.

5. Install wooden beams overhead

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Farmhouses of old tended to have wooden beams at their ceiling for structural reasons. And while we no longer need to rely on these to keep our houses intact, consider installing them to replicate the aesthetic.

That isn’t to say that they’re only for show, though. As an alternative to having a false ceiling, the wooden beams in this Choa Chu Kang flat also help to conceal wiring for downlights – talk about practical and aesthetic.

6. Use barn doors instead of regular swing doors

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Remember the good ol’ barn doors? Not only do they bring farmhouse feels to your home, they’re always a clutch in tighter spaces because they eliminate the need for swing clearance.

Pro-tip: use a lighter stained wood and have it blend in with the rest of your walls for a low-profile approach.

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This article was originally published on 22 October 2020 and last updated on 31 August 2023.

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