Behind the Design of a European Farmhouse
May 23, 2022
Written by Trisha Isabey | Photography by Trevor Cooper | Project Design Lead by Raquel Miliken
As a designer, I approach every new project from a variety of perspectives. What is the main purpose of the space? Who will be using it, predominantly and occasionally? And what’s trending in the broader world of design and décor? The answers are unique to every project and form the basis of every design, with the potential to go in a million different directions. In this case, family living dictated an aesthetic of modern farmhouse meets Old-World European charm, with every detail thoughtfully curated to reflect this perfect union of styles. Here’s how we got the look.
We washed the entire home in a classic colour palette and timeless finishes because regardless of what’s “trending” or the chosen style for a particular space, longevity always seems to be a common goal when it comes to home renovations. For our modern farmhouse, we started with an archetypal white palette representing simplicity, cleanliness, and order. We gave the classic hue a newfangled twist with a whisper of warm undertones to usher in a basic, flat design into the present era. By adding dimension to this simple backdrop, we layered in organic elements in the form of muted earthy colours and natural wood and materials in a biophilic design that offers something for everyone, from the dream kitchen to the backyard pool and green space. This approach allowed us to stay true to our chosen aesthetic while balancing the clients’ functional needs and artistic goals.
Echoing in the background was the homeowner’s love of travel and their particular penchant for Italy, which we personified with European influences in our plans for this dream home.
On entry, it’s love at first sight with this stunning foyer. The gleaming primrose mirror, wall millwork, and herringbone flooring magnify the room with a grandiose appeal. Despite this showy first impression, the home has a humble casualness about it that draws you in. As you move through the home, seamless transitions take you between spaces without skipping a beat. Meanwhile, each room—and each space within them—has been designed with purpose and a unique flair.
The home’s open floor plan encourages a social atmosphere that aligns with the clients’ expressed desire for a family-friendly home. In the living room, we focused on natural textures, such as clay, wood, and natural stone, which lend Old-World, artisanal touches throughout. The overall vibe can best be described as “homey” and a place where residents and guests always feel welcome and at ease.
Textiles play an important role in the overall ambiance, adding layers of visual interest, warmth, and “touchability.” The farmhouse aesthetic loves organic and naturally derived materials, such as linen (which we used) as well as wool, cotton, hemp, or raw silk. Underfoot, a traditional-style area rug delineates a sitting area in front of the fireplace—a natural gathering place and focal point in any home and certainly in this one. Window coverings take a simple form, framing without abstracting the natural light or the views.
The kitchen is the showpiece of the space, as is often the case. However, the kitchen is even more critical in a farmhouse design, which focuses on history, tradition, and the bygone days when most of the “living” in a house was done in this one room. Indeed, the kitchen has undergone a major evolution through the centuries, but as our lifestyles have shifted since the pandemic, we may have come full circle to a space that serves many more needs and functions than just cooking and eating. This particular kitchen is a stunning space to live, entertain, work, and store daily essentials and occasional items.
From an aesthetic perspective, natural marble countertops, a porcelain farmhouse sink, and a satin brass faucet echo a distinctly Euro farmhouse feel. Warm wood details and continuous honey-hued floors keep things light and warm. But perhaps the biggest stand-out feature is one that you can’t see outright: storage space.
Storage (or lack thereof) ranks right up there as one of the top reasons most homes “don’t work” for my clients anymore. Think about it: your storage needs have likely changed in the past five years, whether due to changes in lifestyle or family structure. And if you’re renovating a kitchen, you’ll want to plan at least 10 to 15 years in the future or more. This means anticipating your storage requirements.
To balance the clients’ functional needs and aesthetic goals, we used a combination of open and closed cabinets and shelves, which not only supply valuable storage space but also add visual interest and help tell a story. This space offers ample storage behind closed doors, which comes by way of kitchen cabinets and a pantry. For a busy family, this offers an accessible yet hidden place to stow away every culinary essential and a few extras, too. We maintained a simple, streamlined look by cladding the fridge in matching panels. We also employed open shelves and an opportunity to showcase collected items, beautiful objects, and unique treasures.
This particular kitchen afforded the luxury of space, so the design incorporates a pantry in one anteroom and an office in another. These dedicated utilitarian spaces allowed us to organize the family’s activities into designated areas, bringing order to a space that’s commonly characterized by daily chaos. The pantry and office space benefitted from the home’s brand of farmhouse charm, wrapped in a natural stone backsplash and wood display shelves lined with thoughtfully selected accessories.
The primary bedroom should serve as an escape from the world, so we treated it as such with a unique flair all its own. The bold floral wallpaper is an instant attention grabber, adding a modern edge with a gentle nod to tradition. The upholstered headboard and pillows bring a touch of softness and luxury, offset by the simplicity of natural wood in the furniture and the floor.
The adjacent ensuite features a beautiful palette of natural linen, organic wooden objects, and real marble with hints of pink picked up from the bedroom wallpaper and the main living areas downstairs. Although the sleeping quarters are physically separated, they are still very much connected through a cohesive palette of colours and materials.
This home’s Old-World European style achieves a sense of warmth and harmony by using textiles and texture, vintage décor, natural wood, stone, and tile. Meanwhile, the modern farmhouse theme comes to life through a palette throughout the home, such as warm white, natural wood, and soft gold and black punctuation points. In every beautiful home, the fine finishing details don’t just happen by chance. Rather, they are a product of careful planning and skilled execution. When in doubt, work with a professional designer.
Trisha Isabey is the creative director and principal designer for the award-winning Isabey Interiors. The Kelowna-based design firm has excelled for over a decade in creating thoughtfully curated designs. The sought-after design team offers a diverse range of design services throughout Western Canada and nationally.
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