Yvonne Hollenbeck: Farmhouse decor

All one has to do is glance at any current magazine to see that the latest trend in household furnishing and decorating is called “Farmhouse Décor,” however, the cover photo of a pristine-looking kitchen is not exactly what most of us perceive as “farmhouse décor.” My father was a farmer, as were my grandparents, uncles, and most of my parents’ friends, so I was rarely in any house that was not a farm house. Then I married a rancher, who is basically a farmer that raises cattle rather than grain crops. The photos in these magazines and social media advertisements are this old lady’s first glimpse of what a farm house is “supposed” to look like.

If those advertisers and magazine editors were to actually leave their desks in New York City or Los Angeles and venture to the heartland and actually visit a few farm homes, they might be shocked, especially if they were to visit my house. They would never see beautiful marble counters that are spotless with nothing on them except a bouquet of expertly arranged flowers, nor would they see what appears to be some sort of enormous, stylish, mostly glass and polished stainless steel cookstove, again with not a speck on it unless it too sports a well-crafted bouquet. Photos of these modern homes depict all white walls, white furniture, white cupboards, etc. Can you about imagine how long this would stay white in an actual working farm house?

One article states, “Decorating with farmhouse furniture and décor is a great way to express the rustic charm of a simpler time. Elements like exposed wood, galvanized metal, and weathered effects make these new furniture and décor pieces look and feel like cherished items full of character that have been passed down through generations.” Rather than a calendar from a feed store or sale barn with phone numbers scribbled on it, the walls in these pristine kitchens are adorned with signs that read, “Country”, a silhouette of a hog that says, “Farmhouse Fresh” (whatever that is supposed to mean), or one that says, “Fresh Eggs.” I find humor in just thinking what my late mother or grandmothers would say about this current “farmhouse” hubbub.

Can’t you just imagine the looks on the faces of these journalists or interior decorators if they encountered the occasional aromas of an honest-to-goodness farmhouse, especially in the early spring during calving season? It might not be inspiring to see a dirty vaccine gun laying on a counter waiting for the missus to clean it up, or a pair of filthy coveralls destined for the laundry room after a calf has just been pulled (or worse). There are often dirty dishes in the sink and the counters are cluttered with bills, farm papers, groceries needing to be put away, and a sack of blank ear tags and marker, again waiting for the missus to work on after she gets the bills paid.

In the event you are inspired to convert your typical farmhouse kitchen to a modern and “chic” one, I did notice a reproduction sink similar to the old white cast iron one in my childhood home, for a mere $1,900. That’s more, way more, than my granddad’s old John Deere A tractor cost when it was brand new. You don’t even want to know how much a claw-foot reproduction bathtub costs, especially if you have a weak heart.

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