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Our farmhouse style

It’s hard to define what a country cottage or farmhouse style actually is, but when you live in that type of house, you just know what works. It’s not minimalist; it’s not clean lines; it’s not well-ordered or sleek. It is cosy; it is eclectic; it is imperfect and rough round the edges. A look evolves over time – but there are a few key country house factors that I don’t think a cottage or farmhouse can be without. I reckon we have a few in this list, and several more things to consider too.

We moved into our farmhouse about 6 months ago, after 18 months’ renovation which was mainly building work. So now we’re actually in, we’ve been quite, ahem, relaxed about doing much graft recently! I like to think of it as the settling in period, rather than us just being a bit lazy…

Still, today as I waltzed around with my camera, trying to capture things in my house that made it a cottage or farmhouse style, I started to realise that we’d done a lot, and that I really, really loved this house. See, after such a long period of hard work you start to become blind to what you have done, and just focus on what is still to be finished. Writing this post has helped me to fall back in love with my home.

Thanks to Quercus Living who asked me to write about my farmhouse style. Do check out their 7 steps to creating a country cottage style living room. There are some stunning shots in there – and some great tips too. Their furniture would work really well in a farmhouse or country style. Particularly the painted furniture if you go for a shabby chic kind of look – or check out the more chunky sideboards if a plain, more masculine style is your thing.

Here are 16 things that I would recommend doing, and that we have done to help create a cottage / farmhouse style…

1. Get an open fire or a log burner

In my opinion you just cannot have a country cottage or farmhouse without one. Period. It’s the heart of our home. We chose a Clearview stove, which was worth the money as it’s so easy to control. The fireplace itself had been buried behind a wall for years – and we knocked through to discover it. It was scrubbed to reveal it’s natural stone hue. It’s a real focal point in our room, and I love stacking up logs either side to make those a feature too.

2. Choose industrial lights in creamy earth tones

I love the mixture of slightly industrial style lighting in a soft colour, like these wall lights from Garden Trading. The colour is clay, and it complements the Farrow and Ball paint in the living room.

3. Throws, throws and more throws!

In our house, with 2 cats, 1 dog and 2 kids, we need throws. They are almost as essential as food. However it’s not just practical. I love the layered up, rustic, homespun air they give. These are from the National Trust shop.

4. Mix up your vintage pictures

We are only just getting started with our lovely collection of vintage pictures. We haven’t bought one; instead our family members just give them to us! The flowers picture is an old original that’s probably worth a bit. The other one is a car boot sale find.

5. Expose beams and make features of them

Not everyone is lucky enough to have beams, but if you do you must have them stripped back. It’s common to paint them, but I prefer them bare. Then it’s nice to hang things from them, or pin bunting to them for kids’ rooms.

6. Make the most of nooks and crannies

This was the pantry in the old farmhouse. Instead of plastering them or boarding them up as the builder suggested, we left them rough and used them like this, as bookshelves.

7. Source some vintage pieces

I love these vintage drawers that my mum gave us. I am considering painting them grey, but for now the red works well in an otherwise all grey bedroom. It’s fine to have new furniture in an old house, but several vintage pieces are essential.

8. Search for something different

These Bakelite light switches are reproduction and Adam sourced them from Australia! He had the idea that they would work, and they do. It’s worth searching out something different rather than just going for the obvious – a white plastic switch just wouldn’t be the same in an old house.

9. Mix old style with new features

I was set on having a roll top bath. But we also needed a shower. I was dead against a walk in shower as the house is so old – and I just didn’t think a sleek wet room thing would work. So we went for this from Bathstore. A roll top bath with a shower over the top. In the corner, out of shot, it is fixed to the wall so the water doesn’t rush down, if you know what I mean!

10. Consider unfinished curtain poles

Adam suggested we bought handmade poles that hadn’t been painted or varnished. I wasn’t sure but I love the pale unfinished look. A stripped, pared back aesthetic really suits this farmhouse. The matte unvarnished finish looks lovely next to wool curtains in earthy tones. Ours were from Copes.

11. Install a shaker peg rail 

I love my shaker peg rail, made by a friend whose website is here. You can basically hang anything on them, and they add a real eclectic but functional air to your kitchen.

12. A plate rack with mismatched plates

It wasn’t an intentional choice to have lots of vintage, mismatched plates and cups – that’s just what happened! But that, and the fact that they are on display using the plate rack in between cupboards, adds to the mix and match farmhouse feel.

13. Get reclaimed flagstone floors

I was unsure about flagstone floor, but now I am so glad we went for them. They are reclaimed and cathedral grade. Unbelievably it is cheaper to buy new! But buying old really does add that farmhouse feel. Also, when you have animals – and kids – it’s easy to clean, and doesn’t matter when people come in with muddy wellies on!

14. Rough lime plaster and curved edges

Another conscious decision that seems unusual was to have a very rough finish on the lime plaster. It really works and makes the whole renovation feel more natural and in keeping with the building’s age. We also made all the corners curved, which was tricky for the joiner who made the skirting board – but worth the effort.

15. Keep your sash windows!


I know it’s tempting to choose double glazed UPVC but, having just been through a cold winter, I can confidently say that these have been fine. White plastic just doesn’t have the same effect, even if it is more practical, as wood. Our windows, though unfinished (we still need to paint them) were renovated back to their original state.

16. Keep any original doors


We’re so glad that we kept the original doors internally and externally. Unfortunately we will have to replace the front door – and we haven’t done that yet. But the others were fine, if a bit worn. That just adds to the feel though. We just painted ours.

I hope you enjoyed having a nosey around my home! I really want to do more home posts, and with a big extension in the pipeline there will be loads of stuff to share with you.

Do you live in the country – or the city? What do you think gives a cottage or farmhouse style?

Disclaimer: I was paid by Quercus Living to write this post. It contains links to Quercus Living and other retailers – all are unfollow as per Google Guidelines.



  1. February 24, 2016 / 10:26 am

    Loved reading this post – your home is gorgeous! Actually my dream home 🙂 What colour is the paint btw? We've painted our house from top to toe in Dulux Cotton White which I love for it's country house feel, but I'll be ready to add a hint of colour soon. H x

  2. February 24, 2016 / 10:31 am

    All Farrow and Ball as that's the only paint that you can use on lime plaster. Cooking Apple Green in dining room (curtain pole shot), in bathroom it's Cabbage White which is very very pale blue. In Living room (curved edges and pictures) it's Parma Gray which is a lilac-y blue. Bedroom is Calluna. Thanks for your comment – it means a lot! X

  3. February 28, 2016 / 7:59 am

    Love love love Rachel…you decorate as well as you cook and you cook every bit as beautifully as you write. Do you do sleepovers lol x Jennie x

  4. February 28, 2016 / 8:00 am

    Thanks so much Jennie – your continued support means a lot! Can I just stress that the mess and unfinished stuff was only just out of shot! The house is gorgeous but a long way from being perfect. X

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