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You don’t have to live on a farm or even in the country to appreciate the lived-in, cozy, welcoming look of farmhouse style.

It isn’t about bright, bold colors or sleek sophistication. Farmhouse style is about walking into any room and immediately feeling at ease and welcome.

“It’s very simple, it’s unpretentious,” said Melinda Lehman, a buyer for Art Van Furniture which carries Magnolia Home by Joanna Gaines, who is known for her modern farmhouse style. “It takes cues from the origins of the farmhouse — the different types of rooms and how they were positioned in the home.”

Lehman believes one reason farmhouse style is so hot right now is because of Gaines and her husband, Chip, who star on HGTV’s hot “Fixer Upper.” The couple and their young family call Waco, Texas, home, but seem to be everywhere.

Aside from Joanna’s Magnolia Home line, she and Chip also have a quarterly magazine. And their new 300-piece collection with Target, Hearth & Hand with Magnolia, debuts Sunday.

As Joanna has said herself, said Lehman, her style is really about making people feel at home.

“Joanna says it best, ‘Home is the most important place on Earth,’ ” said Lehman. “That’s where the family comes to gather. It’s where the living is done ... She wants everybody to feel comfortable.”

Lehman got a sneak peek at how popular the Gaineses are and their trademark style during a recent visit to their Magnolia Market at the Silos in Waco, Texas. Visiting midday Friday, she and a few others stopped by the small retail shop, bakery and picnic area.

“It was mobbed,” said Lehman. “I couldn’t believe the people that were there. I have to say that what’s she’s doing really has a lot of resonance with people.”


Rina Belanger sees farmhouse style as a combination of elements. And vintage certainly plays a role in it.

Belanger is co-owner of Backroad Divas. With her business partner, Angela Guzzardo, they travel to overstuffed barns, flea markets and anywhere else looking for unique finds.

“We look for wood, tools, boxes, vintage antique cans, salvage pieces. We look for doors — anything we can re-purpose or re-imagine,” said Belanger.

In July, the duo visited the famed Brimfield Flea Market in Massachusetts where Belanger’s favorite find was a vintage “Pick Your Own Blueberries” sign from Maine.

“Signs are big for farmhouse décor,” said Belanger. “They look beautiful over a buffet, all in white.”

Five years ago, Belanger and Guzzardo started the Vintage Market LLC, bringing in about 40 vendors selling various vintage home decor items in Trenton. Since then, their markets have gotten so popular with hundreds of vendors and as many 20,000 customers that they hold seven of them a year in various locations, including the Monroe County Fairgrounds.

Their next Vintage Market, “Home for the Holidays,” is Dec. 17, again at the Monroe fairgrounds.

“It’s just kept growing and growing,” said Belanger.

Grays and neutrals

Megan Brokman believes part of the appeal of farmhouse decor is nostaglia and people longing to create simpler lives. And “Fixer Upper” has helped.

“Even if they don’t live in a farmhouse, they’re incorporating it. You’re seeing it in modern homes,” she said.

Brokman and her husband have been restoring an 1867 farmhouse near Erie, Pennsylvania, for eight years, chronicling their journey room-by-room on a blog. Brokman also sells vintage-inspired linens and pillows with her etsy shop, Farmhouse Supply, and is a vendor at The Vintage Market.

Brokman said she decided to use a largely white and cream color palette throughout the house to connect rooms.

“All of the architecture is of a different style,” said Brokman. “What I found is if I could make a cohesive palette, it brought it all together.”

But farmhouse style doesn’t have to be all white. At Art Van, where the Magnolia Home line is divided into eight “genres,” one of which is farmhouse, there are other hues, though all are muted.

“There are whites and blacks, some grays. There’s a driftwood finish, a French blue finish,” said Lehman.

And rustic is key. Belanger said some of the pieces they find they’ll clean up. Others, they’ll leave as is.

“Some things look good dirty and chippy,” said Belanger.

To create your own farmhouse look, do your research, said Belanger. Ask sellers where they shop and the stories behind individual pieces. And if you can’t find the real deal, fake it.

“Home Goods or Hobby Lobby have replicas that are cheaper,” Belanger said.

So whether you want an authentic farmhouse look or a replica, think cozy and rustic. “It’s timeless,” said Belanger.

(313) 223-4686

Twitter: @mfeighan

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