Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A Few More City Farmhouses, Jill Brinson and 21 Things You Need

With my last post, I showed you scenes from the NYC apartment of designer, author, home designer/builder and Country Living magazine contributor Randy Florke. His style of dressed up country is my personal favorite and, in this post, I thought I'd show you a few more examples of the same by other designers. Here are some of my favorite farmhouse-in-the-city spaces :

The space above and the two below were designed by Hillary Wallace for an Oklahoma native turned TriBeCa loft owner in New York City. The farmhouse elements: Clean, creamy white walls. Warm wood flooring. Simple window treatments. Textural fabrics on traditional furniture shapes. Rustic accessories and needlepoint rugs. The city: A wide open floor plan. An L-shaped sectional helping to anchor one of two separate seating areas in the living room. Recessed ceiling lighting to create illumination throughout. Art framed in a contemporary fashion.

In the bedroom, below, the designer used feminine pieces like a small chandelier, curvy bench, and lacy white linens as counterpoints to the loft's original brick wall. See more of this space here at

In his own Scottsdale, Arizona condo, designer Christopher Coffin left the kitchen's white marble floor as he found it and built a French-inspired kitchen on top of it. This is all pretty fancy as farmhouses go (click on the photo to see the rest of this gorgeous home), but what I think is important to note is this: farmhouse can be dressed up or dressed down. With its vast use of marble, curvy iron center table and faux limestone walls, this is definitely an uptown look.

Christopher Coffin again mixes plain with fancy in his dining room, below. It should be noted too that while Hillary Wallace's farmhouse design for her client was reminiscent of American country, Coffin's country look is of French descent.

Mary Jo and Jim Donohoe brought the feelings of the French and Italian countrysides to their new home in Bethesda, Maryland, asking their architect, David Neumann to "capture the feel of an old French barn". This is a grand room and a beautiful home (to see more, click on the photo, below) . However, there are many elements you can borrow to use in your own interpretation of farmhouse: rustic wood, iron details, provincial pottery and utilitarian furnishings like the antique corner cupboard. The "city" here? Brand new construction and modern efficiency in the heart of a bustling suburb.

This 1932 brick Tudor in Atlanta, below, could have been given an overstuffed, collected over time English treatment, but designer Kay Douglass chose to keep it simple. Her pared down, clutter-free designs focus on texture and form with a minimal use of color. Where she does use color, as in the room shown here, it is to great effect. Bright solids on chairs and in the artwork and accessories give this farmhouse look its contemporary spin.

In an even more colorful "farmhouse" in another New York City loft, textile and interiors designer Annie Selke joined forces with Country Living magazine's Jennifer Vreeland to bring loads of country character to blank, boxy spaces, below. Together they layered on warmth with natural wood, textiles, and leather. Clean profiles, rich textures and personal collections create the character of a country house within a cozy retreat that offers all the conveniences of modern city life.

Of the pale blue walls and liberal use of white linen the designer says "The colors were chosen to inspire a bit of calm from the city experience, so you come in and feel relaxed without giving up sophistication." Hits of classic country red appear throughout the apartment to provide continuity and fun.

I know this particular look, whether you call it "farmhouse" or "country", is not for everyone, but I do think there is something to be learned from every well-designed space. Traditional or contemporary, transitional or modern, whatever you gravitate toward first, it's been my experience that most people prefer "a little bit of this" and "a little bit of that" in their homes.

Designer Jill Sharp Brinson's gorgeous Atlanta home, as recently featured in House Beautiful magazine, has rushed around the blogs like wildfire. Apparently, her brand of country appeals to a lot of us! (click here to see and read the online article) Brinson's style is definitely a European take on farmhouse design with influences from Belgium, France, Italy and England. Toss in some Morocco and Mount Vernon, and it's a unique version indeed. In her interview with house Beautiful's Lisa Creagan, Brinson explains her attraction to farmhouse this way: "We live in total denial that we're smack in the middle of a big city. My husband, Rob, and I have a love affair with rural settings... It's part farmhouse, part loft. The style is a blend of our interests in both humble, rustic houses and turn-of-the-century industrial-style warehouses". I'll just let my favorite photos from the article speak for themselves :

Luckily for us mere mortals, Jill Sharp Brinson is the Creative Director of Ballard Designs. She brings her great eye to this popular source for decorating ideas, inspiration and a huge variety of products that provide the crossover appeal of the country in the city look I've shown you here. I used their Eldridge Pendant light at the top of this post. Simple but sophisticated, it illustrates perfectly the look of modern country. If you're not familiar with Ballard, click on the graphic below to go to their website. You'll be taken first to a fun feature in which they've collaborated with Traditional Home magazine to show us twenty-one things every well-designed, efficiently functional home should have.

Now, you and I both know that this feature is meant to help sell Ballard merchandise. But I think it's a good list to keep in mind—wherever you go to get the things you need—when you're rethinking the spaces in your home. How many of these "must haves" are you lacking?
1. a place for your drink
2. a nomad console
3. a lamp to read by
4. knock-your-socks-off art
5. a cushy chair
6. party-friendly portables
7. grown-up dinners
8. a versatile bookshelf
9. natural fibers
10. a welcome entry table
11. a pretty place for laundry
12. a hang-out bed
13. a mirror mirror
14. a french connection
15. a place to put your feet up
16. a truly comfortable sofa
17. a pillow wardrobe
18. eye-catching accessories
19. patterns that make a statement
20. a touch of modern
21. a well-adjusted dining table

While you're taking inventory, look around and tell me, if you don't already live in an actual farmhouse (lucky you, if you do!), what elements have you seen here that you would like to add to your interiors? What favorite farmhouse things do you already use?


vineshkumar said...

Beautiful! Thanks for the interesting post
website design New York City

Lavender and Lilies said...

I love your blog! I love those first images and I can't believe they are from NYC.

Tish Jett said...

I'm about to rhapsodize, prepare yourself. . .

Finding you chez Els is already all the endorsement anyone needs, but now that I've visited, I'm in rapture.

Your blog is absolutely stunning, stylish, chic, envy inducing. You have given me the greatest gift: You have just become my new decoration magazine.

I'm a collector of decoration magazines, have shelves of books on the subject and voila, there you are.

Add to that, you obviously love dogs. What more could a girls ask.

The second I leave, I'm putting you up on my list. You don't have a "followers" gadget?

Warm regards,

P.S: You list is very, very French as you no doubt know. The nesting tables that pull out and arrange according to the numbers of guests, comfortable seating, always a place to set a drink, perfect lighting, on and on.

Melissa @ The Inspired Room said...

I have been drawn to the farmhouse style lately, I love it!

A Country Farmhouse said...

Hi Tracy,

I live in a farmhouse. I'd like to incorporate more of the 'dressed up country' look into our house. It's been going in that direction this past year but I continue to find ways to make improvements...for example, I just painted our kitchen white. My favorite farmhouse things are our open shelves, the wraparound porch, and the country scenes outside our windows. xoTrina

Struggler said...

I really like that brick bedroom - it has lovely balance to it.
Am a huge Ballard fan but would so love to visit a store rather than gambling on their quality with online purchases. So far I've only taken baby steps with their product range.

Averill said...

I love Selke and Brison's work here in particular. While I wouldn't describe my style as "country", I would like to add a few more vintage/antique elements to my house. Stuff that looks like it's lived a little; stuff that'll knock the sheen off my new house and new stuff.

Room Service ~ Decorating 101 said...

wonderful post, Love so many of the rooms that you have on today!!! I am afraid that my own brinson room fell short, but it was still fun to do!

Melanie said...

Beautiful photos. I love that kitchen. So clean looking and bright.

Riviera Boardwalk said...

It's about the kitchen and Jill and you! It is about how you soo nailed the look. I would be thrilled to have you stop by and visit my blog and sign up if you like.

Maria Killam said...

Wonderful post, I especially loved the recap at the end from House Beautiful, I hadn't seen that yet!

Simply Luxurious said...

Beautiful images and all very inspiring. And the list . . . well the list is in my journal and with the hope that I can someday check them all off.

I really enjoy your blog. Thanks for the ideas!

Anonymous said...

I love a variety of different design styles for different reasons. I don't have country style in my own home but I love the inspiration you've provided here. All the rooms have such a cozy, welcoming vibe to them. I'm loving the Jill Brinson room too and am sure I'll have to join the masses and include it in a post at some point. :-) Hope you're having a good weekend!

Room Service ~ Decorating 101 said...

Great post, words of wisdom and lots of eye candy. I am in love with so many of those spaces. Thanks for your kind words on my post today. It means alot!

the gardeners cottage said...

Hi Tracey,

Love this post. So well written. I feel like you just saved me a lot of time reading a bunch of magazine articles. You summarized a lot. Love, love the images. Also really love the large font you are using. I'm always amazed at the quality of Ballard. The few things I've ordered from them have been made extremely well. I don't exactly live in a farmhouse but it is old. I think the main things that give it a farmhouse feel are the old floors and windows and open shelving.


Love Where You Live said...

Hi! I totally agree with adding a touch of modern to a room and/or home! I think it keeps it all youthful and fresh looking. Plus, it's something unexpected! A little bling for the classic look. Great post! -susan

Rugs cleaning New York City said...

Hi, just visited your blog first time, and found it quite interesting. Nice post indeed. Thanks for sharing it to all
Rugs cleaning New York City