What makes a modern farmhouse bathroom? From our perspective, it’s defined by simplicity, hints of historical charm, and a clean earthiness. To picture a modern farmhouse bathroom, imagine a simple layout with straightforward shapes, calming color palettes, and fixtures/accessories that nod to rural and agricultural design traditions. Add to all that a bolt of luxury and modernity to give it that present-day touch.
Here at Clearing Farm, we’re attracted to farmhouse design because we like the essentialism of the Shaker style, the restraint and industriousness in the construction of historical farmhouses, and the warm vibe that countryside farms evoke in the American imagination. With this big-picture design approach defined, let’s break down how we designed our modern farmhouse bathroom and its core constituents.
Farmhouse design, particularly in this day and age, means a lot of different things to different people. Our understanding of farmhouse design, though, is that the most essential element is a utilitarian simplicity. Why? Because traditionally, farmhouses weren’t built as design statements; they were built as practical living abodes where function was valued over form and economy over luxury. In other words, “plain but warm” might be the best descriptor of the farmhouse style.
With this in mind, we wanted the layout of our farmhouse bathroom to be radically simple and radically straightforward.
Notice how square the layout is. There are no real surprises in the bathroom’s shape. This layout screams “farmhouse bathroom,” because it’s very “what you see is what you get” in the blueprint design, a staple of early American farmhouse style.
The simplicity is carried over to the vanity area in the early sketches. Simple lines and shapes are the bathroom’s definitive feature. There is little fuss in the design.
This early blueprint shows the shower and bathtub area. Since farmhouses typically have boxy exteriors, we carry over that boxiness into the bathroom’s layout. No complicated shapes here; everything appears as you would expect it to.
In short, as you think about your farmhouse bathroom’s layout, we encourage you to think about how the history of farmhouse design will inform the flow of your room. The historical notion we grabbed onto was the simplicity and straightforward design of farmhouses, and we went from there.
After your blueprint/layout is confirmed, the question becomes focused on how you will create a farmhouse style and aesthetic. The four keywords for our farmhouse bathroom were simple, traditional, natural, and calming. Before you start building your farmhouse bathroom, it would be wise to come up with a few keywords to guide your interpretation of the farmhouse tradition.
At the highest level, our farmhouse bathroom is defined by the use of the following materials: Carrara marble, stone, subway tile, fiberglass, porcelain, glass, and polished chrome fixtures. We picked all of these elements because they mix together in a classical way but also in a way that is reminiscent of a modern spa. Additionally, all of these materials are relatively easy to source and as such not that expensive, or at the very least much cheaper than sourcing rarer materials sometimes used in bathrooms. Let’s look at each element with a magnifying glass.
The Shower: Our farmhouse shower area embraces a system with exposed piping. The exposed piping gives the shower a vintage vibe. Why? Because exposed piping does not hide the functional element of the shower and thus gives off a farmhouse feeling. The rawness makes it authentic. For the encasement, we had a custom glass shower door installed. The transparency of the glass adds that element of modernity that helps define a modern farmhouse bathroom v. an old-school one.
Farmhouse Subway Tile: So why is subway tile so popular, and what place does it have in a farmhouse bathroom? Subway tile was popularized in the early 1900s when the New York City subways were introduced. One of the reasons the subways used this tile was because their white shiny nature reflected light in otherwise dark tunnels, and in many ways that is still their appeal today. They add a fresh brightness to a room and are relatively simple and cheap to install. That’s certainly why we chose them for our bathroom: It was an easy way to get a bright/clean look without hurting the bank. As far as why subway tile is a good choice for farmhouses, the trend from the actual subway also became a mainstream home trend in the 1930s and ever since has a connection with old-world rustic vibes.
Farmhouse Bathroom Vanity: As you would expect, the vanity area in our bathroom is simple. The mirror is a rectangle, and there is no medicine cabinet above the sinks, keeping the design clutter-free. Beneath the sinks we have a storage area for towels and other necessities. Then to accent all this simplicity and add that modern/luxurious touch, we use a high-end handmade faucet fixture from Rohl in Italy. This is an important highlight of the design, as the simplicity is counterbalanced with a luxurious element that makes the farmhouse design work. Practicality meets extravagance is a staple of modern farmhouse design.
Farmhouse Bathroom Cabinets: Our cabinets are in the Shaker style, but we did add one awesome luxury element that we encourage you to add to your bathroom as well. Open the middle cabinet and you’ll find electrical outlets. Putting the outlet in the cabinet itself is a great way to always keep things such as toothbrush chargers and hair dryers plugged in but off surfaces to create that clutter-free look.
Farmhouse Decor/Accessories: Some farmhouse bathrooms are defined by an abundance of vintage signs and rural decor accents that explicitly call attention to the farmhouse vibe. That wasn’t the route we took for our farmhouse bathroom; instead, we explicitly avoided any purely decorative design elements. Our decor is much subtler. For example, we have a photograph taken in the 1920s from the nearest town hanging up, but besides that, our decor is stark as a homage to the practicality of early American life.
Bathroom Lighting in a Farmhouse: Historically, a farmhouse would not even have a bathroom inside the house; it would have an outhouse, and it wouldn’t have electricity or any artificial lighting. We wanted to give a nod to this reality in our farmhouse, so we set up two different lighting systems. The first has super-bright LED lights; the second just has faint Edison bulbs on dimmers that feel like candlelight. The result is we can run the bathroom lighting in two distinct settings: one super-bright for makeup and shaving, and another super-dim as if it was lit by candlelight for mood setting.
Farmhouse Bathroom Floor Tile: Farmhouse tiling can go a lot of ways. We know people with farmhouses who used wood flooring even in the bathroom to create that sense of historical continuity throughout the house. That’s a pretty bold move, though, and we opted just for a slate tile. When it comes the tile, you choose; we recommend going with natural material — or at least one that feels natural — to maintain that authentic farmhouse connection with the land and earth.
A modern farmhouse bathroom is two things. First, It’s true to the farmhouse tradition by being practical and simple. Second, it has surprising moments of luxury and modernity weaved throughout it. Sounds pretty open-ended, right? It is, and that is why as you search Pinterest, magazines, or other sources of farmhouse inspiration, you’ll find a lot of different approaches for designing a farmhouse bathroom. That openness is what makes farmhouse design fun — you can take it in so many directions. What we have outlined above is a modern farmhouse bathroom design inspired by American farmhouses, but other farmhouse bathroom styles that you might embrace are: French farmhouses, barn farmhouses, rustic farmhouses, colonial farmhouses, and even Victorian ones.
Enjoy the process, and feel free to email us or drop us a direct message on Instagram with any questions.