Modern farmhouse tops list of design styles

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‘It incorporates the comfortable feel everyone loves’

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According to a study by interior design studio Hovia (, a British-based company that sources ethically produced wallpaper, modern farmhouse is the most popular design style south of the border.

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It’s also popular here in Canada, reports Trisha Isabey, founder and creative director of Isabey Interiors in Kelowna, B.C.


White traditional farmhouse is a rustic country style that often uses vintage furniture and plaids, modern farmhouse, its more refined cousin, brings contemporary elements like exposed beams into the aesthetic.

“This design style incorporates the comfortable feel that everyone enjoys with simple, holistic modern style that results in a clean looking design that is unfussed and makes people feel at home,” says Isabey.

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Because it encompasses luxurious elements without compromising comfortability, it’s “enormously popular” in family homes. Its neutral colour palette – whites, beiges and greys – are calming and soothing and the materials – from the furniture to the flooring – are natural and often imperfect.

Isabey recommends bringing in tons of texture like warm wood, dimensional stones and soft textiles. Anchor your space with black fixtures, décor or hardware, especially if using lots of neutrals. Don’t shy away from colour and don’t get too cliché.


This style originates from Chinese art, which helps to organize any space to result in positive energy and improve overall well-being, while making your living space harmonious and balanced, Hovia reports

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The rustic style concentrates on organic textures such as stone, wood and metal. While it’s still popular in Canada, designers like Bren Petrunick, creative founder of Simply White Interiors, a Niagara-based design firm, see more contemporary takes on this trend, such as modern farmhouse.

“In our experience, homeowners want a balance between old and new,” she says. “They want clean lines and expansive windows that flood a home with light, and then they want to layer in character and warmth with natural materials, wood accents, stone and a few vintage pieces of furniture.” But remember, less is more. Too many vintage pieces can leave your design feeling overdone.


Demand for coastal styling is big in the great white north, particularly in regions like Niagara, where homeowners embrace their surroundings. “Water is a soothing, energizing element of nature and hints of this throughout a home invokes feelings of relaxation and nostalgia,” Petrunick says.

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To nail the coastal theme, bring in natural colours, starting with blue. “Whether it’s in furnishings and décor or on your walls and millwork, blue is a timeless choice and automatically draws a connection to water.

Beyond blue, look for other natural coastal colours such as warm, sandy beiges and blue-greens of turquoise,” she says.

Pairing any of those shades with crisp white will drive your coastal theme home. Hints of shiplap and nautical influences such as rope and stripes in fabrics are all great additions. “We have but one big don’t: resist the urge to overdo the theme with endless coastal knickknacks.”


Mid-century modern is a design style that you can have fun with. “Pair neutral leather and wood with vibrant colours,” Isabey says. Take advantage of as much natural light as possible. Doing so will make your design come to life. Choose clever storage solutions to present clean lines in your space with minimal clutter.

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“In Canada, we are seeing a trend towards more casual, comfortable living spaces that are both functional and inviting, which are quintessential elements of the French country aesthetic,” Petrunick says. The style is both timeless and versatile. Current interpretations focus on architectural signatures like exposed beams, brick floors and stone feature walls.

She recommends incorporating neutral toile fabric and wallpaper, especially in bedrooms and bathrooms. Paint an old hutch, sideboard or bedside table, and take your design one step further by choosing a distressed paint or white-wash finish. “Finally, don’t go overboard with colour,” Petrunick says. “A neutral, muted palette is a hallmark of French country design.”

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The eclectic style tends to incorporate pieces from a variety of interior design styles. “Eclectic style will always find a home among popular interiors, mostly because it allows people to express their interests, passion and personal style outside the borders of any particular aesthetic,” says Petrunick,

“An eclectic design can be described as whimsical, unexpected and inclusive because everything fits into this ‘anything goes’ style…This aesthetic should evolve gradually as elements such as art and furnishings are gathered through travels and sourcing adventures. Our only caution is not to go overboard with tchotchkes or you run the risk of feeling like you’re living inside a flea market.”

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Wood, iron, steel, aluminium, rich leathers and copper finishings are quintessential elements of industrial design – the most popular style in New York. Isabey Interiors has seen an increase in industrial style design requests over the past few years, particularly among commercial clients.

“This style of design incorporates raw elements, such as exposed piping, contrasted with modern elements to create a space that is both interesting and luxurious,” Isabey says.

Create contrast by incorporating raw elements with unexpected modern pieces for a bold design and embrace flaws. “Although many materials are naturally grey, such as cement or piping, don’t feel married to a dark colour scheme. Warm woods and vibrant colours can add excitement to your space.”

Popular design styles

 A study by interior design studio Hovia found the following are the most popular design styles in the U.S.:

  1. Modern farmhouse
  2. Feng shui
  3. Rustic and coastal (tied)
  4. Mid-century modern, French country, industrial and eclectic (tied)

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