When it comes to choosing modern farmhouse wall decor, there is a fine line between quirky and out of place. That said, playing it safe can lead to a somewhat lackluster space. If you choose art that is too bold or too contemporary, your pieces can undermine the aesthetic you’re trying to achieve; too obvious or too traditional, and your interior can come across as clichéd.
As with any design or art purchase, we always recommend choosing pieces that really appeal to you when trying to create an interior that is unique and personal. The confusion of style, period and origin applies just as much to art and wall decoration as it does to furniture, lighting and textiles.
New York interior designer James Huniford — whose own weekend home is a carefully restored farmhouse in The Hamptons — agrees. ‘It’s important that my home is comfortable for me, my family and my friends… but it’s also a laboratory, a place to experiment with the way fabrics and objects with an artisan character feel alongside more refined ones. It’s about taking elements from different periods and not letting their history influence how you use them, but instead finding a shared harmony.”
But if you’re specifically looking for something that will fit harmoniously into an existing schedule, it can help to have a little guidance. Modern farmhouse style is usually achieved with an understated juxtaposition of old with new. So where to start when choosing wall decoration?
Perhaps the most obvious route is to add landscape art or photography, which provides a direct link to the great outdoors. Another option is to opt for contemporary art in colors from nature’s palette. Or follow James Huniford’s lead and embrace all kinds of vintage pieces, including agricultural and industrial, to spice up your walls – from antique maps to weathered oars and old wooden grain sieves.
8 MODERN FARMHOUSE WALL DECOR IDEAS
1. MAKE A WALL FEATURE OF AGRICULTURAL ANTICS
When designing the guest bedroom of this airy Hamptons home, James Huniford hung an assortment of 19th-century wooden grain sieves on the wall, creating a striking feature of these modest, locally sourced vintage finds. Of course, this approach also works well for modern living rooms, kitchens, bathrooms…any space you want to tackle.
‘I like this minimalist installation, which uses objects as art. Since the house is close to a large farm, I wanted to bring in some agricultural elements,” says James. Complementing the lineup of seven is an early American drop-leaf table and more industrial pieces, including a metal grain shovel and sprocket chain.
2. BE CREATIVE WITH IMAGE PLACEMENT
When interior designer Glenn Ban redecorated this cozy porch in his Hamptons cottage, he chose a simple seascape as a nod to the home’s seaside location. Short on wall space, he hung the painting over two windows, above the Donald Judd-inspired daybed that fills one side of the whitewashed porch.
“The room has windows on three walls, which makes for a beautiful sea breeze,” says Glenn. “The art above the daybed looks beautiful, and it also reminds me that all spaces can feel layered, even if they’re quite utilitarian in their purpose.”
3. CHANNEL COTTAGE STYLE WITH PASTEL COLORS
If you’re short on space and love color, a cocooning paint scheme can be an ideal way to make your walls more interesting, rather than running the risk of overcrowding a room with too much decoration.
This Berkshire cottage was renovated by London-based interior design firm Turner Pocock, who painted the walls and ceiling of one of the modern bedrooms a soft and soothing pink.
“We wanted everything about this cottage to be comfortable and convenient,” say designers Bunny and Emma. “The pink paint we used in the bedroom is an archive Farrow & Ball color called Potted Shrimp. We especially like how the chalky finish adds to the sense of calm.”
4. CREATE – OR COMMISSION – A MODERN FARM MURAL
‘We wanted the interior to be unique and artisanal, but in no way cumbersome or clichéd…. the location and scenery are the star here,” says Steven Johanknecht of Los Angeles studio Commune Design, which renovated this 100-year-old California cabin in the hills of Santa Anita.
The designers looked at a variety of influences for the redesign, including historic American cabins, European chalets, and Shaker-style interiors. “The walls of the bunk room feature a hand-stenciled motif by decorative artist Nic Valle, who was inspired by the pattern of Navajo rugs,” says Steven of the mural, which complements the painted wooden bed frame with its olive green hue.
5. ADD CHARACTER WITH ARCHITECTURAL STORAGE
“This cabin looks older now than when I got my hands on it,” interior designer Leanne Ford says of the 1900s log home she restored in Los Angeles. “The area where this bedroom is located was once outdoors, but we expanded these small rooms to make it part of the interior,” adds the designer, maintaining an indoor-outdoor feel with stone floors and a rustic aesthetic.
“I found these beautiful old glass doors and hung them on a shed slide behind the bed, and painted them to blend in,” she continues. “I like white paint in all shades, but bright white would have been too modern here, so I used a very warm, antique white to match the cabin.”
6. TRY PLAID WALLPAPER FOR A HERITAGE AESTHETIC
“When we first saw this small guest bedroom, the existing bed really took up space,” say Christina Valencia and Kele Dobrinski of Colossus Mfg. studio, who renovated this Lake Tahoe home.
‘We knew that during the renovation we wanted to add something that could draw your eye upwards and make the space visually interesting. This checkered heritage wallpaper had the campsite-meets-modern balance we were looking for.”
The design duo loved the palette so much that they layered the bed with blue-toned bedding as well. “For a subtle contrast, we added two butterscotch reading lights above the bed.”
7. BUILD A WALL OF BEAUTIFULLY ORGANIZED STORAGE
In her backyard office, which sits on the site of an old horse stable, Hudson Valley architect Annie Mennes designed a wall of streamlined storage that’s as stylish as it is functional.
Annie, the founder of Garrison Foundry Architecture, referenced East Coast farmhouses and Scandinavian interiors in the design. “The office is simple and utilitarian, with a modern-rustic vibe,” says the architect, who bought the custom floating shelves from a mail-order company and painted them in Benjamin Moore’s “Cloud White” to match the walls.
“The idea was to hide everything in the white storage wall,” explains Annie. Color-coordinated archive boxes and a painted pegboard complete the project.
8. REFERENCE NATURE WITH ABSTRACT LANDSCAPES
The owners of this repurposed cattle shed in Wighton, Norfolk, turned to British custom kitchen company deVol to help redesign their once dilapidated barn. “Anyone who’s been to North Norfolk knows what a special place it is: wild and beautiful, with great beaches,” said Helen Parker, creative director of deVOL.
‘Our Shaker kitchen here is large-scale, yet it feels comfortable and homey,’ she adds – the ideal atmosphere for a modern farmhouse kitchen. “And we absolutely love the original artwork propped up in the room; these vast landscapes really add to the feeling of being in the wilderness by the sea.’