Rustic revival: How to get the modern farmhouse look

Designer Sydney Carlaw converts a 1970s home with two barns into her family’s country dream house.

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Mix old with new. The stainless steel cooktop and extra-thick quartz countertops create a modern kitchen, but one that retains and accentuates the home’s original rustic charm. Tip: Remove upper cabinets to create an open concept, streamlined feel.

Modern farmhouse Photo, Janis Nicolay2
Cabinetry, Kitchen Art Design. Countertops, Prins, 778-878-4751. Appliances, Trail Appliances. Runner, The Cross Decor & Design. (Photo, Janis Nicolay.)

Revamp original features. In this cozy area for kids, outfitted with a child-sized table and stools, the room features an original black-hinged, built-in cabinet that Sydney revamped with whitewashed doors and a coat of paint. It holds craft supplies and board games.

Modern farmhouse Photo, Janis Nicolay3
Table, Restoration Hardware. Chairs, The Goods Home. (Photo, Janis Nicolay.)

Decorate a landing with art. This piece fits perfectly on the first floor of Sydney’s studio-barn, and adds a touch of rustic beauty to a functional space. Tip: Whatever decor style you’re after, find art that complements your home’s overall feel.

Modern farmhouse Photo, Janis Nicolay5
Artwork, HomeSense. Sconces, Restoration Hardware. (Photo, Janis Nicolay.)

Use woods that work. The combination of three different types (and shades) of wood in Sydney’s home — cedar walls, oak floors and pale-wood kitchen cabinets — feels serene and unified rather than mismatched because they all share the same tone.

Modern farmhouse Photo, Janis Nicolay1
Beam paint, Escarpment, Benjamin Moore. Chandelier, Purity Designs. Artwork, Sara Genn, White Rock Gallery.

Keep a neutral palette. Sydney chose to turn one of the barns into her work studio and white-washed the walls but left the exposed wood beams as is to give the space a fresh, yet serene feel. In her main home, Sydney lightened the walls and floors to give the space a softer look, and painted the dark-brown beams a warm grey to add some contrast.

Modern farmhouse Photo, Janis Nicolay6
Table, Restoration Hardware. Stools, HomeSense. (Photo, Janis Nicolay.)

Love this look? Here are our top modern farmhouse picks:

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