Tips

Designer tips on how to create a European farmhouse

Farmhouse style is ever evolving. Get the scoop on its latest iteration from a few of our favorite designers.
A limestone fireplace and lantern-style light fixture are the central elements in this European farmhouse living room.

Statement range hoods, over-grouted stone fireplaces, and weathered wood beams — you might have noticed a few of these elements showing up in interiors lately, and there’s a reason. These are hallmarks of European-farmhouse style, which happens to be having a major moment right now. Interested? We talked to a few experts to get their tips for introducing old-world charm into the home.

What is European-farmhouse style?

First, it’s important to understand the distinction between European-farmhouse style and the general farmhouse style that’s been popular for more than a decade. While the American-farmhouse style has moved toward a modern, minimalist aesthetic, the European farmhouse style is more characterized by warmth and layers.

Characteristic features include “neutral, earth-based colors; luxe materials that may be a bit worn; and casual elegance” said Carrie Valentine, a Minnesota-based interior designer who just created a European farmhouse for her own family.

The timelessness of this style is a big part of its appeal. “Not many people want to buy a home, renovate, or invest in large pieces of furniture and then have it feel outdated in a few years.” said Valentine.

A European farmhouse kitchen featuring black casement windows over a rustic concrete apron sink 

“People were looking for a means of making their farmhouse warm and inviting, and this style lends to people who are adding their own personality to their own farmhouse style” Lorenz said.

Materials

Creating the richly textured look of a European farmhouse starts with selecting the right materials. Natural materials are key. “I always tell clients that natural materials can handle the use and wear of daily life — if you let them,” Valentine said. Wood, plaster, stone, marble, brick, unlacquered brass and copper are all typical. This mix of rough, unfinished textures and smooth, refined ones give these spaces lots of tactile definition. Lorenz describes this style as having an “overall soft feel.”

Architectural features

Using these types of materials to create unique features adds character to a European farmhouse.

Expect to see:

  • Rugged wood ceiling beams made of reclaimed barn wood
  • Statement range hoods
  • Over-grouted stone fireplaces
  • Brick or honed stone floors
  • Arches in all forms
An arched doorway connects a kitchen with the family room beyond where a large stone fireplace is the central feature

“[European farmhouses] aren’t built in the North American wood-frame style, but rather with … a combination of stone, timber, and plaster,” said Petite Modern Life blogger, Karisa Grimstad, who has incorporated all these materials in her own European farmhouse. Grimstad’s home features 100 Series single-hung windows with black frames and a two-over-two grille pattern.

Windows

Because natural light is the perfect way to generate the warmth associated with this style, Valentine chose to include a whopping 22 windows in an 1,800-square-foot home.

Here are some expert tips on selecting windows to match a European farmhouse:

  • Grilles are a traditional window feature making them perfect for a European farmhouse. Valentine chose a six-over-six colonial grille pattern (featuring six squares on top and six on the bottom of each double-hung window) knowing that fewer squares would have given her home a more contemporary look.
  • Frame colors in neutrals are a reminder of the earthy origins of this style. Lorenz likes taupe on the exterior and a clean white on the interior. But you don’t have to shy away from the purest neutral of all, black. It’s the color Valentine and Grimstad both chose for their homes.
  • Sizing windows larger can help bring in natural light and warmth. “We especially like large windows in the kitchen, stairs, and living spaces,” Lorenz noted. Grimstad agreed. “We put a huge emphasis on windows facing our gorgeous view of the mountains and lake, which is also where all the afternoon light is!”
  • Traditional styles of windows tend to have wider and more ornamental frames. Double- and single-hung windows are classic and look beautiful in this style of home, but you could also consider something extra special, like a French casement window, which opens outward and offers unobstructed views.
A dining table with lantern above and black-framed single-hung windows behind

Part of the reason Valentine’s dining room is so pleasing is because the windows are proportionate to the ceiling height. Her home is influenced by Georgian architecture, which uses the golden ratio (1:618) to create a harmonious relationship between all the elements of the design. Valentine chose 100 Series single-hung windows in black with colonial grilles in a six-over-six pattern.

Decor

Incorporate “a mix of old and new” when furnishing a home of this style, Lorenz suggested. Reclaimed wooden pieces, vintage rugs, and contrasting metal items are all winning selections. “The goal is that you are always contrasting soft lines with clean lines when designing spaces like this,” she explained. “If you pick something contemporary, you will want to balance it by using something more found or antique.” Additionally, Valentine noted, homeowners shouldn’t be afraid of pieces with patina. She’s a fan of items such as stoneware dishes and copper pots — as well as vintage furnishings. “I am against perfection, because it rarely lasts,” said Valentine.