Farm life is busy and often exhausting, so it's no wonder that the first country-living decorators chose easy-care fabrics in spirit-brightening colors and noteworthy patterns.
Farmhouse fabrics are informal and treasured for their countrified associations, high-contrast color combinations, touchable weaves, and hand-stitched beginnings. Utilitarian textiles, such as recycled grain sacks, ticking-striped towels, red-checked tablecloths, and calico aprons, find new life in country quarters, popping up as upholstery fabrics, throw pillows, bed skirts, and quilts.
Want to establish farmhouse style in your home? Here's a look at the fabrics, patterns, and textiles that let you create country character.
Nothing says classic country better than ticking fabrics. Originally, these durable striped cotton fabrics were used to cover pillows and mattresses, but they have inspired look-alike patterns in lightweight textiles. Fresh and breezy, ticking fabrics usually sport white or light backgrounds and blue stripes arranged singly or in pairs. Use weightier ticking fabrics to create all sorts of covers: duvet, pillow, cushion, and furniture. If you can't find ticking stripes you like, use two-tone fabrics boasting skinny stripes that mix nicely with larger-scale farmhouse fabric patterns, such as colorful plaids and buffalo checks.
Thanks to their overscale pattern and high-contrast palette, buffalo check fabrics make a bold statement that reads as both country and chic. Often seen in variations of black and white or navy and ivory, buffalo check fabrics work well with gingham, toile, and striped fabrics that share similar colors. In this kitchen, the farmhouse fabric takes a sophisticated turn, adding panache to elegantly shaped barstools and pendant shades, while mirroring the colors of toile window shades and balancing a dramatic patterned backsplash.
More intricately designed than checked fabrics, plaid farmhouse fabrics sport stripes of varying sizes and are crafted from different-color threads. There are multicolor plaids, such as tartans, but country plaids tend to be more laid-back. Two colors--such as navy and white--come together in notable patterns that make a statement as window and bed dressings. An easy way to add plaid? Toss a plaid coverlet at the end of a bed, arrange store-bought plaid pillows across a denim sofa, or lay a plaid rug at your back door.
Barnyard decor should always have a place in farmhouse-style spaces. Look for printed fabric, pillows, or curtains that showcase cattle, roosters, or colorful crops to further your rural design. Incorporate other farmstead-related textiles, such as cowhide rugs, flour-sack valances, and feed-bag pillows, to really bring your country home to life.
Coarsely woven fabrics, including burlap, homespun fabric, and muslin, bring rough-to-the-touch textures that add authenticity to rustic farmhouse rooms. They are neutral in color but still make a splash thanks to their irregular weave. Burlap is a good choice for valances, pictured here, and curtains because its loose weave allows a bit of light to filter through. Other advantages? These types of fabrics are inexpensive, versatile, and can be used to dress windows, to cover pillows, and to skirt sinks or dressing tables.
Delightful and cheerful, gingham fabrics are lightweight cottons checked in white and a color. Gingham is characterized by small, sprightly checks, which (because of their petite size) take on a neutral quality that works well with other farmhouse prints. The farmhouse fabric often appears as cafe curtains and valances, but it easily moves outside as pillow covers and tablecloths. In this bedroom, black and white gingham dresses up sconce shades to punctuate a wood-clad wall with country color and pattern.
Toile fabrics, like the toile de Jouy pictured here, immediately bring country French flair to a home. With pastoral scenes and botanical imagery, the prettily patterned fabrics are most often linen or cotton. Patterns are rendered in most any color on much lighter backgrounds. Depending on their weight, toile fabrics easily translate to drapery panels, breezy valances, and skirted chair covers.
Usually rendered in both light and dark colors, cabin-check fabrics take gingham up a notch. Medium-size checks (which are the most suitable companion for both gingham and buffalo check fabrics) align on decorator-weight fabrics, buoyant cottons, and linen and cotton blends. This provides homeowners with plenty of options for creating country-cozy window dressings, bedding, and table coverings. Country checks--no matter their size--are essential building blocks of farmhouse schemes. In this kids' room, checked headboards partner with a like-color striped rug to warm white-painted floorboards.