Modern Farmhouse Design is Evolving in NoVA

The design style that became an aesthetic movement has spread throughout new construction developments everywhere. All you have to do is incorporate some shiplap and — voila! — you’re ready to move into your very own modern farmhouse.

While the style may be ubiquitous at this point, design experts say it’s not going anywhere. Instead, it’s simply being updated.

What’s Its Inspiration?

“I think that people are really looking to be very, very comfortable in their environments. And there’s something very cozy about this style. It embraces you,” says Paola Martinez of Warrenton-based firm Olamar Interiors.

But what is it that is doing all this embracing? Is it a paint color? A fabric? No one seems to be able to explain what exactly it is that people love about modern farmhouse design.

Except for Martinez. “It’s very earthy and clean. White backdrops, light neutrals, natural materials for your rugs and your accents. Furniture in a woven fabric, in a neutral with a gray wash kind of finish. Then, exposed brick or whitewashed brick, or even painted brick if it’s white or black. Light fixtures would be black metals or black mixed with a brass — like a warm brass or an antique brass finish.” And this is it.

These elements combine to form an embrace, and that’s what this aesthetic feels like.

What Makes Something Look Like a Feeling?

We thought that when hygge got replaced by lagom as the next Scandinavian lifestyle concept trend, we’d see the end of cozy as well. Not so. It is still an appealing feeling.

“Modern farmhouse is a more contemporary, updated version of traditional farmhouse style — rustic woods and reclaimed materials, but with more modern elements like glossy finishes and sleek lighting. There are sleeker, cleaner lines,” she says, adding that there are elements of midcentury-modern design incorporated into the décor as well as the interior design of these homes.

She says the color schemes are “warm greens with pops of dark navy blue or dark green, and black accents.” The color palette is very low contrast in range, which is good for bolder patterns and brighter accents, and with the addition of black, it’s given an anchor, a crispness, Martinez says.

Then the layering of fabrics — cottons, voiles, mohair — makes the space feel warm through texture, Martinez says. “It’s really a matter of figuring out how to layer those elements into the space.”

The result? “It automatically feels cozy.”

living room with black brick fireplace
Photo by Sarah Kaupp with NoVA Soul Imagery

How Is the Aesthetic Changing?

Martinez says modern farmhouse design will borrow from California casual design style in coming seasons. “The Southern California look has a Southwest element to it that modern farmhouse doesn’t have. I am seeing a melding of styles. You still have your black accents, but you’re going to start to see the incorporation of more pastel colors as well. Still with that pop of color, but with pastels.”

Raw wood is also trending. “I would recommend raw wood for pieces that you don’t touch often,” she says. “It’s really fun to bring in the raw woods, the natural woods, reclaimed wood into your accessories, your wall art, sculptures, and accent pieces.”

For furniture, classic midcentury-modern pieces reign, she says. “In upholstery you’re seeing more of that midcentury-modern style, but it’s mixed in with pieces that have a little bit more of a reclaimed look,” she says. “So that’s where your natural wood pieces create the juxtaposition of that modern line and those earthy woven fabrics.”

What’s her go-to color of the moment? Benjamin Moore’s Calm. “It’s a little bit of gray, a little bit of beige — and when you start layering these other kinds of warm neutrals on top, and then pair with a really great black tile fireplace, it creates a very, very calm feeling.” One may even say it’s cozy.

Feature image by Sarah Kaupp with NoVA Soul Imagery

This story originally ran in our July Issue. For more stories like this, subscribe to Northern Virginia Magazine.


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