Over the past few years, the farmhouse style has seen a renaissance. People have lined their walls with shiplap, stocked up on sliding barn doors, and filled their homes with rustic furniture. Of course, this is just one way to pull off the farmhouse style. And if you prefer your home to feel a little less sleek—and a little more styled—antique farmhouse décor may be the style for you.
What Is Antique Farmhouse Décor?
Antique farmhouse décor is a subsection of general farmhouse décor. Both styles share an affinity for farm-inspired details, like rustic fabrics, wood furniture, and industrial objects (think: wooden crates and wire baskets). But, antique farmhouse décor is much more focused on showcasing genuine antiques and signs of wear.
“General farmhouse décor can feel new, simple, and streamlined,” Caroline Brackett, principal and owner at Caroline Brackett Studio of Design, says. Contrast this with antique farmhouse décor—a style known for its visibly aged antiques and authentic flea market finds. “Antique farmhouse décor doesn't look over-decorated, but rather collected and eclectic,” she says.
Brackett adds that antique farmhouse décor often feels “layered,” particularly in terms of texture and print. Expect to see chipped paint, patinated metal, and worn-in upholstery.
“Décor items and items of function are often true of age,” Betsy Moyer, co-founder and interior designer at Retreat, says. “They are sourced—if not directly from the farm itself—then collected from antique malls.”
Antique farmhouse décor doesn't look over-decorated, but rather collected and eclectic.
This commitment to age and authenticity is what sets the antique farmhouse style apart—both from other farmhouse styles, and from many other design styles that are popular today.
“I think that the mix of industrial within a more shabby chic vibe is the pinnacle of antique farmhouse style,” Moyer says.
Ahead are 23 reliable ways to cultivate the antique farmhouse style in your home—plus a handful of striking visuals worth adding to your design inspiration board.
Meet the Expert
- Caroline Brackett is the principal and owner at Caroline Brackett Studio of Design, a full-service design firm based in South Carolina.
- Betsy Moyer is a co-founder of and interior designer at Retreat, an experiential design firm.
Set the Scene With Rustic Ceilings
When crafting an antique farmhouse interior, use your space as a starting point. Look for structural elements that have been covered up over the years, and work to expose them. That could mean leaving brick walls unpainted, exposing wood structural beams, or maintaining centuries-old hardwood floors.
“There is so much wonderful history to farmhouses, and every original element should be repurposed if possible,” Brackett says.
Upcycle Old Pieces
One of the key things that differentiate antique farmhouse décor from more general farmhouse décor? The emphasis on antiques, obviously. So, instead of throwing out your oldest pieces, look for ways to give them new life.
“Antiques bring so much warmth and charm to a house,” Brackett says.
And don’t worry about curating pieces from the same era. Brackett specifically recommends “repurposing antiques from different periods” for a layered, textured look.
Embrace the Appeal of a Distressed Paint Job
In other design styles, chipped paint may be a reason to throw out a piece of furniture. But in antique farmhouse décor, wear is welcome.
“I like an early primitive wood table or set of drawers that show its age with beauty—worn wood corners softened over the years of handling,” Moyer says. So embrace your worn-in pieces—and let them add texture to the rest of your space.
Craft a Side Table From Old Crates
The farmhouse style is great about transforming functional pieces—like farm tools and egg baskets—into furniture and décor. Of course, figuring out how to repurpose pieces like this may take some time and effort. But, one classic way to do it is to snag an old wooden crate and use it as a piece of furniture.
Play With Traditional Patterns
Antique farmhouse décor is all about layering textures, but those textures don’t necessarily have to be tactile. By sprinkling in a few traditional prints and patterns, you can add visual texture to your space. Brackett recommends keeping an eye out for classic options, “like small-scale florals and buffalo checks.”
Shop at Local Flea Markets
When outfitting your home with antique-looking pieces, consider where those pieces came from. “Collect your décor authentically from antique stores and marketplaces,” Moyer says. “It is easy to fall prey to the home goods aisles of modern department stores.”
She recommends staying away from store-bought items that were made to look old. And really, why buy those when you could snag something authentic, instead?
Stock Up on Old Glass Bottles
Old glass bottles make a classic addition to any farmhouse interior. And since they often show signs of age, they should fit right into an antique-filled space. Use them functionally, or treat them like décor. And resist the urge to rid them of rust and other remnants of their past lives.
Frame Your Favorite Quilt
Selecting art for an antique farmhouse space can get a little tough, so look for unexpected items you could hang on your walls. Consider framing your favorite quilt or an old embroidered blanket. The thick thread should add texture to your space, even when tucked away behind a frame.
Leave Your Antiques Aged and Imperfect
Many of us react to tarnished silver, chipped paint, and scratched-up wood the same way: We want to clean things up. But, when crafting an antique farmhouse interior, you should aim to leave things exactly as they are (or as close to that as you can get).
Brackett says one of her favorite ways to add antique farmhouse décor to a space is to stock up on antiques—and leave them aged and worn. She wants to see “lots of patina and nothing in perfect, new condition.”
Mix and Match the Frames on Your Gallery Wall
As Moyer noted earlier, one of the hallmarks of the antique farmhouse style is its emphasis on collection. And a gallery wall can be a great way to showcase some of the stuff you’ve found. Compile the frames, photos, and paintings you’ve snagged at nearby markets, and turn one of your walls into a museum of your finds.
Leave Worn-In Upholstery Exposed
When stocking up on antique furniture, many of us head straight for the wood or metal pieces—and we leave the antique upholstery behind. This makes sense. After all, upholstered furniture can be expensive to fix up. The thing is, if you’re decorating in the antique farmhouse style, you don’t actually need to fix it up. By leaving worn-in upholstery as is, you can add loads of texture to your space.
Collect (and Display) Antique Cookware
Your commitment to antiques doesn’t have to stop at décor. There are tons of functional items—like copper cookware, old cast iron skillets, and vintage tea kettles—you can find at flea markets. And yes, despite their age, you can genuinely use them.
Invest in an Old Bed Frame
Look long and hard enough, and you’ll stumble upon a few antique bed frames. These pieces may seem intimidating—they’re heavy, hard to move, and (often) expensive. But invest in one, and your bedroom will instantly feel more antique farmhouse—without you changing anything else.
Play With Classic Colors
Farmhouse homes are often filled with whites and pastels, but that doesn’t mean yours has to be. In fact, Brackett actually recommends staying away from “too much white.”
Don’t be afraid to play with more classic, darker colors, like navy or forest green. “I also think using more earth-tone colors lends itself to the antique farmhouse look,” she says.
Build Your Shelves From Rustic Materials
When designing an antique farmhouse interior, don’t just focus on décor. Consider built-in elements, like shelves and cabinets, too. As much as you can, seek out materials that are true to the antique farmhouse style—like rustic woods or patinated metals.
Turn Family Heirlooms Into Art
As you collect antique pieces to feature in your space, consider the vintage items you already own. Are there any family heirlooms or sentimental objects you could put on display? Leave them on your shelves alongside your favorite flea market finds. Or frame them, and mount them on your wall like art.
Spring for a Few Old Light Fixtures
Remember that the antique farmhouse style is largely about honoring what your space might’ve looked like in an earlier era. And keep this in mind as you select light fixtures for your space.
“Keep lighting simple,” Brackett says. “Think about what the house may have looked like when it was originally built, and strive to recreate that feel.”
Swap Your Radiator With an Antique Option
Many of us take built-in items, like radiators, for granted. But the truth is, these items can make an aesthetic difference in your space. And you aren’t necessarily stuck with the one that came with your house. So keep an eye out for any built-ins that aren’t suiting your space. (Think: radiators, light switches—even appliances.) And consider whether you could trade them with something a little truer to the aesthetic you’re cultivating.
Hang a Couple Old Paintings in Your Bathroom
Your living room, kitchen, and entryway deserve all the attention they get. After all, they’re some of the first things a person will see when they step inside your home. But be sure to give lesser-appreciated spots—like your bathroom—a little love, too. By infusing every inch of your home with antique farmhouse style, you’re sure to end up with a standout space.
Give Your Furniture a Surprisingly Sleek Backdrop
Farmhouse interiors are known for their shiplap walls. But Moyer suggests keeping things a little simpler. “I prefer farmhouse items to be sourced authentically from a farm context and juxtaposed within a clean warm backdrop,” she says.
Go sleeker with your walls than you’re inclined to. This choice will add contrast to your space, making your textured antiques stand out even more.
Look for Unexpected Places to Add Antiques
Stocking up on antique décor is generally pretty easy. But push yourself to put antiques in other places, too. If you stumble upon a vintage vessel sink, make space for it in your bathroom. It may take some finessing. But these less expected touches are what will make your space look truly special.
Let Your Stuff Double as Décor
Function is a key part of the farmhouse style, and it deserves a spot in the antique farmhouse style, too. So don’t be afraid to get a little practical. Instead of storing your everyday items in neat and tidy bins, consider leaving some of them on display. This choice is a sensible one: it’ll make your go-tos even easier to access and it will add yet another layer of texture to your space.
Brackett's advice is to layer, layer, layer—this will make your home feel lived in and loved.
Bring Your Space Together With Antique Hardware
Hardware puts the finishing touches on any space, so look for opportunities to upgrade yours. Consider swapping out your faucets, your drawer pulls, your doorknobs, and more. And maybe treat yourself to some vintage switch plate covers and outlet covers, too.