The farmhouse: I know it well. I grew up with it, I live in it, I get it. It's second nature to me, ingrained in my soul. My grandparents lived on the family farm. A good deal of my childhood was spent there. Truly some of my happiest days were with my grandmother.
I'm sure I became a stylist and a designer because of her and that farm. To this day, Benham Lane remains my favorite place.
But you don't have to grow up with a farmhouse to create one of your own. These five elements can help yours stand the test of time:
• White paint. Above all, the quintessential farmhouse is white. Use it liberally. It's fresh and clean and it will never go out of style.
• Tongue-and-groove paneling. Add it as wainscoting, or panel an entire room with it. It's great on ceilings and as backing for bookcases, cupboards and cabinets.
• Wood floors. Left natural or painted, with or without rugs, wood floors in a farmhouse tell a story. The worn look of well-used stairs and thresholds add character and charm.
• Simple, utilitarian fabrics. Think blue-and-white mattress ticking, burlap, hemp, canvas, worn linen grain sacks and unbleached muslin. Keep it simple.
• Anything galvanized. From buckets to washtubs, watering cans to planters, you can't go wrong when you bring in these hard-working basics. Put them to use in creative and unexpected ways.
When I remodeled my own home, the family farm oozed out of me. I'm sure I was guided by my grandmother's hand. When a client says to me, "I want that Farmhouse Feel," I close my eyes and just imagine myself down home.
This article originally appeared in Lifestyle Insights on June 28, 2010