Chip and Joanna Gaines, the plucky design duo from Waco, TX, have a lot to answer for. Their signature style—”modern farmhouse”—is literally everywhere these days. We’re pretty sure if you went to Mars right now, you’d find apron sinks installed on those rovers.
It’s time for an intervention, people! Listen, I’m not a hater. I have watched and loved many episodes of “Fixer Upper.” But I’ve watched and loved many episodes of “Star Trek,” too, and you don’t see me trying to make my house look like the bridge of the Starship Enterprise. I’m just over it, and I don’t think I’m the only one. Here are five reasons why some of us believe modern farmhouse needs to go.
1. You can’t get away from it
Photo by John Hall Custom Homes
Ubiquitous doesn’t even begin to describe it. Have you been to Target lately? There’s an entire Magnolia store jammed in between the pharmacy and toy section. You can pick up a copy of one of the two memoirs these guys have out along with your Gaines-approved pillar candles and cutting boards.
“Chip and Joanna are the hottest things right now,” says Jenni Lantz, a manager at DesignLens.com. “We’re in that frothy peak. But when something hits everywhere, it’s going to be done soon. People will get real tired of seeing shiplap.”
Yes, hi, I am one of those people, and I’d wager many more will soon come out of the refurbished woodwork. This trend has to reach saturation at some point, right?
2. Those kitschy signs
I call it “modern grandma.” Whether it’s individual metal letters hanging out above the upper kitchen cabinets, ordering me to “EAT” or the “live, laugh, love”–style wall signs, you’re just taking classic grandma style and putting it in a cool font.
Like truly, what’s the difference between your Etsy weathered barn wood inspirational quote and my Nana’s duck-stenciled “bless this mess” sign? The line is a lot finer than some people think.
3. All that stuff stuck to the walls
Oversize clocks. Battered farm implements. Rusty birdcages. You guys know you’re ripping your design style straight from the walls of a TGI Friday’s, right?
I don’t care how black-and-white-with-only-one-accent-color your room is, or how many oversize flower arrangements you include, sticking random stuff to the walls is always going to scream “fast-casual restaurant flair” to me. Can we please just stop?
4. Sliding barn doors
Photo by Su Casa Designs
It is beyond time for this trend to die. Aesthetics aside, sliding barn doors are terrible at being doors. They don’t create any kind of seal between the wall and the door, so they do almost nothing to block out sound, and light and odors seep in through the sides.
They always feel kind of rickety, like the bottom of the door really wishes that it could be in a more secure track. Plus they are essentially designed to squash the fingers of young children left unattended near them. I’ve just never understood the appeal.
Furthermore, you have to give up an entire section of the wall for when the door is in the open position, so when it’s closed you’re staring at a blank wall topped by a heavy metal track.
Mark my words, barn doors are going to be the beaded curtains of our age. Our grandchildren are just going to look at them and ask, “Someone did this on purpose?”
5. It doesn’t even make sense anymore
Modern farmhouse, as practiced by the Gaineses, is a way of reclaiming Waco’s local design elements and making them desirable. Before “Fixer Upper,” Waco was the kind of town that even other Texans made fun of. Nobody would have believed that Waco could be ground zero for the next big trend in design.
In a story about the Gaineses’ meteoric rise in “Texas Monthly,” Taffy Brodesser-Akner uses Waco’s rusting downtown water towers as a metaphor for what the couple have done for the city. Locals who had considered them an eyesore their entire lives suddenly saw their beauty when fixed up and repurposed. A point of shame became a point of pride.
Modern farmhouse, at its core, was a bold statement about place: No, we’re not New York or L.A. or London or Paris. We’re Waco, and we’re proud of it.
How ironic, then, that modern farmhouse is the hottest new trend for urbanites. I’m certainly not saying you need to live on a literal farm to make modern farmhouse make sense. But when you’re in a high-rise condo on a block full of high-rise condos miles from the nearest green space, that reclaimed barn wood can look a little silly.
Likewise with brand-new McMansions filled with faux-weathered pie cabinets. Luxe-aspiring and farmhouse just don’t really jibe.
“I don’t see modern farmhouse going well with soaring ceilings,” says Lantz.
Like with any trend, modern farmhouse will never go away entirely. In places like Waco, filled with, well, modern farmhouses, it makes sense. But for the rest of us? It’s time to move on.
“My gut says in the next few years, we’re going to find a new style,” says Lantz. And get sick of that, too. But for now, let’s please stick a quaint vintage fork in this one first.
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