Pulling off a Modern Farmhouse Living Room
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Pulling off a Modern Farmhouse Living Room

Simplicity combined with rustic details is the key to this style.

By Tracy Kaler
Thu, Jan 20, 2022 11:17amGrey Clock 3 min

Clean lines paired with rustic details are the essence of a modern farmhouse living room. But what’s the appeal of this comfortable yet timeless look?

“From the untreated woods to natural materials, there’s something relaxed and inviting about this aesthetic,” said Amalia Graziani, principal at Noor Property Group in New York. “I like the warmth of this style. When done correctly, these spaces feel durable and lived in, but still fresh.”

We turned to a select group of design pros for suggestions on pulling off a modern farmhouse living room. Here’s what they recommend.

Include Reclaimed Materials

“The interior architecture of a modern farmhouse is not the same as that of a true historical farmhouse. Rather, the interior architecture is modernized by the simplicity of the trim, cabinetry design and other design features. The furniture of a modern farmhouse can then be antique or modern, but ideally a blend of both.

“Add reclaimed beams to a ceiling by simply bolting them to the existing structure. A farmhouse-style home typically utilizes beams with a hand-hewn look, which means they have a lot of chop marks. Bolts can be visible when you want an industrial look. You can buy reclaimed beams at salvage yards.

“Flooring in a modern marking is usually a fumed white oak or other character-grade flooring. Character-grade hardwood contains some naturally occurring knots and checks within the graining of the wood. These features provide a more rustic feel.”

— Cathy Purple Cherry of Purple Cherry Architects in Annapolis, Maryland

Pair Antique Elements With Updated Finishes

“A modern farmhouse typically pairs rustic, antique elements with sleek, updated materials and finishes. Most feature the classic pitched roofline and incorporate unfinished wood and natural textiles. Ideally, a modern take introduces more light. Using larger windows or lighter, more Scandinavian-style wood will modernize a space. A high-pitched roofline with vaulted ceilings is most emblematic of this style.

“The materials best suited to this aesthetic include oak or pine for paneling. I like to use unfinished wood beams with white beadboard. Iron is the most traditional metal option, but I love using brushed stainless alongside natural woods. In terms of stone choices, I’d recommend full stone granite for fireplaces and bluestone for floors.”

— Amalia Graziani, principal, Noor Property Group in New York

Select Streamlined Furnishings

“Selecting furniture that features clean lines and appears inviting and comfortable is key to creating a modern farmhouse living room. I gravitate towards sofas that use soft, luxurious, solid fabrics with thick down inserts. The best modern farmhouse looks use neutral fabrics and plenty of texture. Mix different textures to add modernity and differentiate from the traditional farmhouse style; leather paired with velvet; gold lighting or other metallic finishes with wood details on the walls or fireplace.

“Introducing color has to be done carefully if you’re hoping to achieve a modern farmhouse look. The key is to select one colour and carry it throughout the space, creating a monochromatic environment. This streamlined look creates a sophisticated palette for the farmhouse feel.

“I love to infuse abstract art into modern farmhouse living rooms. Pretty, soft landscapes also look beautiful here. If possible, go large on the art to add character and personality to the room.”

— Andi Morse, founder and principal designer, Morse Design in Atlanta

Go Light With Colors and Textures

“The modern farmhouse look has come a long way beyond just shiplap and rustic touches. I think in today’s day and age, where it has been translated over and over again, you need to strip it down to its core and try to capitalize on those elements. This would be a mix of casual ease, unexpected charm, mixed materials and an overall sense of lightness in both colors and textures.

“I would lean toward natural fiber rugs, like sisal or jute, or if you’re going to go with a pattern, perhaps one that is simple and not too busy, typically such as a larger floral print or simple stripe. Lighting is fun, but in a modern farmhouse, I would try and almost make it disappear. Glass shades and very clean and sleek hardware are the way to go.

“Consider a more patina look for your floor lamps, mirrors, or decor items, to lend that rustic charm without going over the top “shabby chic.” Pairing a wood lattice coffee table, for instance, with a more modern and sleek iron frame armchair with ivory cushions adds an element of contrast, which feels very farmhouse to me.”

— Interior designer Georgia Zikas in West Hartford, Connecticut

Reprinted by permission of Mansion Global. Copyright 2021 Dow Jones & Company. Inc. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Original date of publication: Jan 19, 2022.

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Investor buying of homes tumbled 30% in the third quarter, a sign that the rise in borrowing rates and high home prices that pushed traditional buyers to the sidelines are causing these firms to pull back, too.

Companies bought around 66,000 homes in the 40 markets tracked by real-estate brokerage Redfin during the third quarter, compared with 94,000 homes during the same quarter a year ago. The percentage decline in investor purchases was the largest in a quarter since the subprime crisis, save for the second quarter of 2020 when the pandemic shut down most home buying.

The investor pullback represents a turnaround from months ago when their purchases were still rising fast. These firms bought homes in record numbers last year and earlier this year, helping to supercharge the housing market.

Now, investors are reducing their buying activity in line with the decline in overall home sales, which have slumped with mortgage rates rising fast. But with investors’ large cash positions, and with big firms such as JPMorgan Chase & Co. planning to increase its exposure to the home-buying business, investors are poised to resume more aggressive buying when rates or home prices begin to ease.

These firms have seized on a pandemic-driven rise in demand for houses in suburban areas. These owners rented out the homes and increased rents on homes by double-digit percentages. By the first quarter of 2022, investors accounted for one in every five home purchases nationally.

But ballooning borrowing costs have kept investors from buying as much recently, said John Pawlowski, an analyst at Green Street. Buyers and sellers are also agreeing less often on pricing, stifling sales.

“It leads to a lot of people just putting down the pen,” Mr. Pawlowski said.

Rent growth has also begun to slow. Rents for single-family homes rose 10.1% year over year in September, down from 13.9% in April, according to housing data firm CoreLogic.

That rate of growth is still very high by historical standards, however, and much stronger than in the apartment market. Multifamily rent increases are now much lower by most measures. Near record-high rental prices are failing to attract as many new tenants, and demand in the third quarter fell to its lowest level in 13 years.

Demand for rental houses has held up better, in part because many of these homes are leased to relatively high-earning people who have found the for-sale market too expensive to buy, some analysts say.

That rent growth for single-family owners hasn’t translated into stock-market gains this year. Investors have lumped these owners in with home builders and sold many of them. Shares for the three largest publicly traded owners, Invitation Homes, American Homes 4 Rent and Tricon Residential, are each down more than 25% year to date, underperforming the S&P 500 over that period.

Rental landlords also face headwinds from rising property tax assessments that have come alongside enormous increases in home-price appreciation.

At the same time, large rental landlords are coming under greater scrutiny from federal and local governments. Congressional Democrats have hosted a series of hearings focused on eviction practices and rent increases. Three Congress members from California this month introduced a bill called the “Stop Wall Street Landlords Act,” which proposes levying new taxes on single-family landlords. It would prevent government-sponsored enterprises like Freddie Mac from acquiring and securitising their debt.

Many of the places where investors have eased purchasing are the same cities where they had counted for an outsize share of total sales. That includes Las Vegas and Phoenix, where investor sales dropped more than 44% in the third quarter compared with a year ago.

Fewer purchases by online house-flippers, or iBuyers, may have contributed to those declines, according to Redfin. Redfin decided to close its own home-flipping business, RedfinNow, earlier this month.

Nationally, investors still accounted for 17.5% of all home sales in the third quarter, a higher share than they held at any time before the pandemic, by Redfin’s count.

That share seems likely to rise again. Builders with unsold homes due to widespread cancellations by traditional buyers have been looking to sell in bulk to rental landlords.

Meanwhile, some institutional investors are now readying large funds to snap up homes. J.P. Morgan’s asset-management business said this month it had formed a joint venture with rental landlord Haven Realty Capital to purchase and develop $1 billion in houses. A unit of real-estate firm JLL’s LaSalle Investment Management, in partnership with the landlord Amherst Group, said it plans to buy $500 million of homes over the next two years.

Tricon has nearly $3 billion it plans to tap to buy and build homes. “We will lean in and deploy that capital when the time is right,” Tricon’s Chief Executive Gary Berman said on a November earnings call.

While a recession could bring down borrowing rates, it would likely be accompanied by higher unemployment, making it difficult for traditional buyers to take advantage, said Daryl Fairweather, Redfin’s chief economist. For investors, however, that could offer an opportunity to acquire homes at favourable prices.

“An investor may have more resources to jump in at exactly the moment when rates decline,” Ms. Fairweather said.

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