“Modern farmhouse” is a look that many homeowners are going for these days, and it’s a term we throw around a lot. But what exactly does it mean? In this home outside Boston, it’s a mix of old and new, primitive and refined, with a few winks toward traditional farmhouse architecture. The farmhouse touches include reclaimed rustic beams, simple light fixtures, Shaker cabinetry, antique mirrored and seeded glass, patinated oil-rubbed bronze hardware, and antiques, which interior designer Nikki Dalrymple balanced with more modern furnishings and finishes. These ingredients add up to a comfortable, inviting family home for a young crew relocating from a much smaller place in the city.
Photos by Sean Litchfield
Houzz at a Glance
Who lives here: A couple and their two young daughters
Location: Wellesley, Massachusetts
Size: Six bedrooms, 4½bathrooms
Designer: Nikki Dalrymple
Dalrymple had worked with these homeowners on their two-bedroom condo in Boston, so when baby No. 2’s impending arrival inspired a move to the burbs, she already knew their tastes well. She joined the project during the blueprint phase of construction, helping them choose finishes, furniture and accessories; design fireplace surrounds; and pick out and place lighting. She was able to use their existing pieces while adding enough to furnish their new home. She also knew that sustainability was a priority for them. “They wanted to use upcycled items, antiques, LED lighting and low-VOC finishes, and keep their carbon footprint as low as possible,” she says.
Modern Farm 1: Sean Litchfield, original photo on Houzz
“One of the homeowners knew she wanted a blue kitchen — both of them are fearless when it comes to color,” she says. “We broke up all that blue by using seeded glass on the upper cabinets.”
While the house was a new build, it has touches that make it seem as if it has been around for a century. In the kitchen, reclaimed beams and simple glass pendant lights with Edison bulbs lend a sense of age. So does the hardware. “I love to use oil-rubbed bronze; it’s so nice to the touch,” she says. Overscaled pulls add a good amount of the finish throughout the room. For contrast, the multistone mosaic backsplash and quartz countertops are more modern.
Ikat-inspired fabric on the stool slipcovers is an eclectic and lively touch. With two toddlers around, indoor-outdoor fabric was a must — it’s easy to remove and wash them.
Modern Farm 2: Sean Litchfield, original photo on Houzz
In the living room, another reclaimed beam serves as the mantel, and Dalrymple found an antique terra-cotta tile to use on the surround. Another touch that adds farmhouse appeal is the way she treated the lovely window and door casings throughout the first floor, highlighting them in a warm gray paint.
She had helped the couple choose the sofa and side tables for their previous city home, and added two wingback chairs and a coffee table that has antique mirrored glass on the bottom. The chairs are a mix of rustic and refined — they are upholstered in burlap on the back and a soft blue linen on the front. The mirror over the mantel was a serendipitous find; the linen on the frame is a perfect match for the linen on the chairs.
And of course the sheep brings in a whimsical farm-inspired touch. It’s an antique that used to be part of an old advertisement that the designer scooped up at an antiques fair.
Modern Farm 3: Sean Litchfield, original photo on Houzz
The playroom on the first floor has a woodland mural that picks up on the wooded surrounding outside the windows. It’s really hard to see in the photo, but Dalrymple tucked little papier-mâché mice and an owl among the logs and leaves on the mural, giving it dimensionality. This plays off the light fixture, which has little birds in it. A tepee makes for a fun fort, while a vintage-style table and chairs provide a good spot for playing games, working on a puzzle and, in the future, doing homework.
Modern Farm 4: Sean Litchfield, original photo on Houzz
In the master bedroom, her clients wanted a global-inspired look. Dalrymple had their headboard upholstered in a lively pattern. The shell-inlay nightstands have a Moroccan vibe, the indigo throw pillows conjure thoughts of India, and the rug looks as though it could have been picked up in a souk. New mirrors with an antique finish add height, reflect the light and provide a sense of age.
Modern Farm 5: Sean Litchfield, original photo on Houzz
“Don’t ignore the ceiling; it’s an important surface,” Dalrymple says. For the 2-year-old daughter’s room, she knew this playful bird pattern would offer a lot of whimsy. A lotus shell chandelier adds mood lighting and more whimsy to the ceiling. They already had the bookcase, ombré curtains and crib from their city home; the designer repurposed them all here, adding a soft mint green to the crib with low-VOC spray paint. A new rug with an abstract pattern brings in lots of color, and a reupholstered French settee provides a cozy spot to read books.
Modern Farm 6: Sean Litchfield, original photo on Houzz
In the newborn’s bedroom, drapes with little pink tassels steal the show. Her ceiling also got a special wallpaper treatment, and the chandelier is composed of metal rings and seeded glass beads.
Even though the family’s new home is a big change from their place in the city, it all came together very well. “This project was easy and seamless because we clicked so much on their other home,” Dalrymple says.