Home Decor

Here’s the 9 Design Hacks Your Fixer Upper Farmhouse Needs

Unfortunately all we have left of Fixer Upper is reruns, but the farmhouse style we grew to love isn’t going anywhere. It’s everything we always loved about country updated for the way we live now. Think of it as the Maren Morris of country decor. Cowboy boots with a baseball cap.


What makes the new farmhouse style so appealing and so different from “country”?

Knotty pine is gone. Braided rugs too.

We want comfort and big open family rooms to live in. It’s got to stay light and bright with room for the whole tribe to watch Netflix on the sectional.

farmhouse kitchen

We’d love it if our home looked like the ones on Fixer Upper because let’s face it Joanna and Chip were cool. They figured out how to make those tired old homes in Waco look like Hollywood sets. It looked like they were having fun doing it too. Can’t we imagine living on their adorable whitewashed shiplapped farm?

Seriously though; what was Joanna’s secret sauce?

During five seasons worth of enviable farmhouse renos the Gaines’ planted the trend seeds for Waco, shiplap and farmhouse style that are still growing strong.

From brick bungalows to two story faux colonials, every home got the fixer upper makeover. As the cameras rolled in for the reveal, we saw the amazing transformations. Urban street or in a transitioning neighborhood didn’t matter. Each home was reincarnated as a modern farmhouse.

What made Fixer Upper farmhouse style so unique and different?

The traditional fixtures and materials were familiar but Joanna used a modern interpretation of those traditional classic looks.

If you look closely you’ll see Joanna favored a mostly monochromatic color scheme of white, off white and grays and blues. Occasionally a deeper hue would be used on a bookcase wall or kitchen cabinets to offset the off white color scheme.

Here’s what I mean.

→How farmhouse dining used to look

Lattice back chairs and a pew style booth are very traditional elements, but the golden oak finish and bright blue paint give this dining booth a dated feel. The cushions and window treatments also give this dining area a tired look.

old farmhouse dining room


Farmhouse dining now

A modern farmhouse dining room booth using off white paint colors and darker wood finishes with just a hint of an industrial vibe.


→ How farmhouse kitchen used to look

Heavily decorated kitchen cabinets in a medium oak finish. The lighting fixture pot rack doesn’t feel clean and modern. Neither does the hardware or flooring. Notice how everything is brown or beige? No contrast means it’s not modern farmhouse.

old kitchen lighting


Farmhouse Kitchen now

The giant pendant lights over this kitchen island have a traditional look but the scale and finish make them modern. The backsplash and wall cabinets recede visually so the island takes center stage. The light cabinets and backsplash and darker wood base cabinets and floor blend beautifully so that this doesn’t even feel like a kitchen.


→ How farmhouse cabinets used to look

Country farmhouse used to mean painted cabinets with antique style pulls like these. If you wanted to update the hardware and countertop these shaker style cabinets would work in a modern farmhouse kitchen. The small windows could also be enlarged to let the beautiful view in.

old kitchen cabinets


Farmhouse cabinets now

These lower cabinets are painted a dark blue with modern matte gold hardware matching the light fixture above. The marble countertop and the dark base cabinets create the dark/light contrast that really makes a modern farmhouse kitchen pop.


→ How farmhouse stairs used to look

The twisted railing style and wood stain make this staircase feel dated. If the metal rod balusters were replaced with a cleaner style and the wood handrails were stained dark or painted white, this staircase could easily be updated to a modern farmhouse look.


Farmhouse stairs now

Super clean and light and bright the wood detail on the stair risers makes this traditional staircase feel modern. Notice the shiplap!


→ How farmhouse fireplaces used to look

A traditional fireplace with a mantle and marble surround. To update it, I would change the marble to slate and remove the surrounding trim and mantle. You’d also have to update the bookcase trim to the left of the fireplace. Replace the mantle surround with a simple mantle shelf to make it farmhouse modern.


Farmhouse fireplace now

A very simple clean lined fireplace with a single mantle shelf instead of a surround. Although this fireplace is still a focal point, the materials are subtle and neutral.

Here’s the 9 Design Hacks Your Fixer Upper Farmhouse Needs

1. Monochromatic color scheme – Use white, off white, gray with accents of a deep color such as gray or blue on cabinets for example.

2. Wood – Should look as if was ripped out of a barn and then finished and polished. Think neutral grayed reclaimed, not gold or golden brown.

3. Minimal decor – Simple accent rugs on the floor and art on the wall allow natural textures like wood floors or shiplap walls to shine

4. Texture – Subtle textures like woven fabric, wood grain and shiplap create cosy depth and texture. Keep patterns simple.

5. Trim – Simple, consistent trim throughout. Trim, crown molding, ceilings and ceiling rosettes in the white or off white color palette

6. Metal – With a modern vibe. It’s not rust-ic or country but sleek. Finishes are subdued. No shiny brass but deep gold or soft black.

7. Walls and backsplashes – No longer focal points but part of the overall color scheme. Off white subway or chevron tile adds texture but not busy pattern.

8. Vintage – Is the finishing touch. A row of old glass jars with flowers or a vintage cupboard mounted on the wall. Old windows re-purposed as headboards.

9. Greenery – To give a soft homey feel to each room. Bringing the outside in with plants feels modern and connected to the outside.

Trying to decide if an accessory, rug or lamp will work? Ask yourself three questions.

1. Does it work with your color palette?
2. Does it keep that minimal vibe.
3. Is it a good quality modern version of a traditional style?

The biggest question is do you love it?

I always suggest starting with a color palette and a theme (farmhouse) to you have a “template” to work from when you shop. Then ask yourself, does this fit with the theme I want to create?

Ripping everything out and starting from scratch makes creating your dream farmhouse a lot easier. But if you’re on a budget and just want to update your look, start with the walls and floors.

Pick your colors and main textures (wood floors and stone or tile) and repeat them throughout your home. As budget and time allows take out what doesn’t fit and keep adding what does. Give yourself a time frame.

Choose two main colors and two accent colors. Keep it simple. Use these throughout the house. You can change it up from room to room but keeping walls mostly monochromatic or one color throughout will simplify your options. You’ll be able to focus on how to bring in texture and your accent colors instead of freaking out about what color to paint the walls!

Are you ready to make your fixer upper?

fixer upper farmhouse