Create “Fixer Upper” Farmhouse Modern Style in Your Space

If you’re anything like us, you love a good home renovation project. The power of a little elbow grease and a bold vision can transform a space from a room to an oasis and a house into a home.

A much more relaxing way to experience home renovation, however, is through the escapism of a good home renovation TV program. The befores and afters come anxiety (and budget) free, and leave you with more than a few ideas for own space. Inspired by one such popular program, here are a few of the cornerstone design principles for achieving the “farmhouse modern” aesthetic.

What is Farmhouse Modern?

Arguably one of the hottest design trends happening right now is what we like to think of as farmhouse modern. This is not country cottage, shabby chic, or industrial modern design; it’s a softer approach that combines simple, but sturdy architecture elements, artisan touches and a crisp and clean modern aesthetic together with great impact. It’s simple yet chic and complements a number of different tastes, styles of home, and geographies. You don’t need to live on a farm in order to bring farmhouse modern touches into your space.

And there is no better example of this trend being executed well than on HGTV’s “Fixer Upper.” As the name suggests, this original home design series is all about breathing new life into old houses and turning them from neglected structures into stunningly designed homes that families will cherish for years to come. Led by Chip and Joanna Gaines, the husband (builder) and wife (designer) duo behind Magnolia Homes in Waco, Texas, homeowners are led on a hunt for the perfect fixer upper and then sit back and watch as the Gaines’ transform their real estate into a designer home to great dramatic effect.


Beyond beautiful! #FixerUpper #HGTV

A post shared by Fixer Upper (@fixerupperhgtv) on

We love Joanna’s style, which truly embodies the farmhouse modern aesthetic. Think: bright open spaces with lots of neutral tones accented with natural wood and dark metal fixtures and finishes. The lines are crisp with just enough rustic antique and vintage touches to lend a little soul.

If you’re a vintage and antique lover of items that can be classified as Americana, Arts & Crafts, Shaker, Mission style, or Pennsylvania Dutch then you’re already halfway there. The pieces that you collect are no doubt perfect to execute a farmhouse modern makeover of your space all your own.

Lots of Light

One of the hallmarks of a Magnolia Homes designs executed by Chip and Joanna Gaines is their ability to create light and airy spaces where before things may have been a little dark and drab – think a ‘70s recreation room turned into a stunning open concept living space with a crisp neutral palette and lots of natural light. If you’re not ready to start demolishing walls in your space, there are other ways you can create the same effect without construction.

Try large mirrors, like this gorgeous Venetian design or a more subtle Victorian piece, to bounce the available light in spaces where it may be limited. Consider removing heavy drapery or window coverings in favor of lighter, translucent fabrics or treatments – even frosted window clings can sometimes be a great solution to let in as much light as possible.

Left: Lot 163, American painted & parcel gilt pier mirror, Doyle New York (April 5); Center: Lot 500, Victorian silver leaf frame with beveled glass mirror, late 19th century, Garth’s Auctioneers & Appraisers (April 7); Right: Neoclassical églomisé panel mirror, c. 1800, Spurgeon Lewis Antiques

Consider limiting your color palette to light and natural hues; this includes paint, floor coverings and decorative items. By choosing a limited palette in light and natural tones the eye will not reach so many “stops” in a room and will take in larger expanses of uninterrupted wall and floor space.

There’s an app for that: If you’re looking to try out different paint colors before you commit, the Color Smart by Behr mobile app or Pantone’s color app are both great ways to see how different hues would look in a space before you grab a brush and roller. Both apps also make helpful suggestions for combinations of colors to create a complete and unique palette for your space.

Wood Accents

Integrating natural wood into the architectural details of a space is another thing that Chip and Joanna Gaines do exceptionally well on “Fixer Upper.” Do you already have natural wood furniture pieces, like this circular Jonathan mahogany dining table and cabinet, that you love? A desk, table, or even a single chair like this Herter Bros. ebonized side chair from 1880 can make for the perfect accent.

Beyond furniture, hand-carved wooden mixing bowls, old milk crates, antique wooden toys or even a set of old wooden bowling pins can make for interesting items displayed on a bookshelf. We love this antique wooden bowl and cracker for nuts and can totally picture it in a farmhouse modern space.

Lot 344, Antique wooden bowl & hammer for cracking nuts, Tiroche Auction House (March 30)

If you don’t have wooden items but would like to incorporate more into your home, be on the lookout for an old door, window frame, or corbel. These can make for great architectural details in a space. Or, take another note from the Gaines’ playbook and find old shiplap or wood flooring that can be used in new pieces like an accent wall or even a piece of furniture like a kitchen island, dining table or butcher block.

There’s an app for that: Want to try out different furniture arrangements? Try the Homestyler Interior Design app. It allows you to experiment with different floor plans digitally before you start lugging furniture around your space.

Old is New Again

Lot 103, Map of Italy given to Giovanni Antonio Magini by his son Fabio, 1620, Jeschke Van Vliet (March 31)

Sometimes an antique piece has seen better days. In some cases it may be time to deconstruct the original and turn it into something new. Old fabrics and textiles can we used to create new pillows or a wall hanging. Large format maps and architectural drawings are great pieces to frame in crisp modern mattes to become wall art. The legs from broken furniture can often be repurposed to create interesting finials or lamp bases. Just because it’s broken doesn’t mean it’s not worth a second look.

Make it Personal

Whenever possible, Chip and Joanna call on the specialities of local craftspeople and artisans to create original pieces for the homes they are transforming. From welded metal pieces that quote a favorite piece of scripture, to hand-crafted tables and other unexpected wood accents from Clint Harp at Harp Design Co., who is getting his own design show on the DIY Network – must be something in that Waco water. These personal touches are one of the things that makes the spaces the Gaines’ create feel less like design showrooms and more like well-loved homes.

Lot 299, Pair of Illinois leather license plates, 1909, Nest Egg Auctioneers (April 1)

If you’re already a collector of vintage and antique goods, you’re a step ahead in adding personal touches to your space. These collectible objects that adorn your home are without a doubt unique items that each mean so much to you. You can go even further by selecting your most cherished pieces and finding a local craftsperson to help you create an extra special display piece designed specifically for you.

We also love the idea of taking vintage letters and postcards and framing them to give a quaint and personal touch to a space. They make for interesting reading for guests and the messages contained can remind you of the people who were the bearers of your antique treasures before you found them.

There’s an app for that: We think Zillow Digs is one of the best digital repositories of interior design projects and designers that we’ve seen. Browse thousands of interiors that have specific elements you might be looking to incorporate into your own to glean inspiration for your home.

Mix & Match Eras

Left: French Art Deco chandelier by Simonet Freres, c. 1935, Paul Stamati Gallery; Right: Consulate fruitwood corule side chair, 1800, Antiques Period

Who says your Shaker style furniture wouldn’t look great next to your Art Deco lamp? Mixing and matching different styles and eras can be a great way to bring your antique and vintage pieces into the 21st century. This pair of sleek mid-century modern Paul McCobb lounge chairs would fit in perfectly in a “Fixer Upper” space alongside farmhouse modern accents. We can also see this Pierre Jeanneret conference chair fitting right into one of Joanna’s designs. As long as you are keeping in mind your overall farmhouse modern aesthetic, feel free to play with styles and periods as you add finishing touches to your space.

The fresh design aesthetic of farmhouse modern style is more than just good TV, it lends itself exceptionally well to those who love antique and vintage pieces as much as modern design. Through the use of light, a fresh color palette, and a harmonious mix of antique and modern decor, you can instantly transform a drab, dated room into a bright and modern space though the latest style trend – all inspired by the vision of a husband and wife design duo from Waco, Texas.

Elevate your interior style with rare antique & vintage furniture, decorative art, and one-of-a-kind collectibles on Invaluable.