Decorative Farmhouse Appeal

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My husband and I, along with our two boys, moved into our small Indiana home about four years ago, and we’ve been renovating ever since. We’ve torn down walls, built furniture, painted just about every surface, and restored the original charm of our vintage 1940s farmhouse.

What I love most about old farmhouses is their character and the sense of history you get from them. Decorating with farmhouse style today is all about blending modern amenities with elements that take you back to a simpler time.

The rooms in a modern farmhouse should feel cozy, warm, inviting, and full of charm and character. Natural wood tones connect the home to the outdoors, while soft, neutral colors create a sense of calmness and relaxation. Combining antiques and unique finds from flea markets with new furniture produces a classic look that’s evolved over time. Weathered wood, peeling paint, and natural fabrics are all hallmarks of classic farmhouse style.

The following do-it-yourself projects are simple, useful, and fun to make, ultimately bringing a bit of rustic style to your home.

Wooden Cake Stand

Every kitchen needs a place to set out fresh-from-the-oven cookies and cakes, and this cake stand fits the bill perfectly. Stain or paint the wood to match the colors in your kitchen. Guests will be impressed when you serve them a treat from this handmade piece.

Tools & Materials

  • Tape measure
  • 12-inch wooden round panel
  • Drill
  • Drill bits
  • 4-inch bun-foot table leg
  • 4-inch wooden disc
  • 5-inch wooden disc
  • Screwdriver
  • 2-1/2-inch screw
  • Paintbrushes
  • Food-safe wood stain
  • Clean rags
  • Paste wax

NOTE: The wooden round panel and bun-foot table leg can be found at hardware and home improvement stores, and the smaller wooden discs are available at craft stores.


1. With a tape measure, find the center of the 12-inch wooden round. Using a drill and a drill bit slightly smaller than the screw on the top of the bun-foot table leg, drill a hole about halfway through the wood. Screw the bun-foot into the bottom of the wooden round until it fits tightly.

2. With a drill bit the same size as the 2-1⁄2-inch screw, drill a hole all the way through the center of the 4-inch and 5-inch wooden discs, and partially into the bottom of the bun-foot.

3. Insert the screw through the 5-inch disc, then through the 4-inch disc using a screwdriver.

4. Insert the end of the screw into the bottom of the bun-foot, and tighten with a screwdriver until all the pieces are tightly secured.

5. With a paintbrush, apply food-safe stain to the entire cake stand, and allow the stain to penetrate for 5 to 15 minutes, or until the desired color is achieved. Wipe the wood with a clean rag to remove any remaining stain, and allow it to dry completely, about 8 hours.

6. Apply a layer of paste wax with a clean paintbrush, and buff with a clean rag. This will seal the wood.      

NOTE: For safety, always use a piece of parchment paper when setting food on the cake stand.

Distressed Step Stool

Furniture with a distressed, timeworn finish is common in farmhouse décor, and this trick is the fastest way I’ve found to get that look with paint. Instead of sanding away layers and layers of dry paint, this simple technique uses petroleum jelly as a barrier that prevents paint from adhering to the furniture. The paint wipes right off with the jelly, saving loads of time and even more elbow grease.

NOTE: Use flat-sheen paint to give your project a timeworn look, as matte finishes are more common in farmhouse style than high-gloss finishes.

Tools & Materials

  • Petroleum jelly (such as Vaseline)
  • Wooden step stool (these can often be found at antique shops and flea markets)
  • Cotton swabs
  • Paint
  • Paintbrushes
  • Sanding block
  • Clean rags
  • Dark paste wax


1. Apply a thin layer of petroleum jelly to several small areas of the step stool using a cotton swab. Because the paint won’t adhere where you apply the jelly, use it only in places where paint would naturally wear off over time, such as edges, corners, steps, and near metal hardware.

2. Paint the stool using a paintbrush, and allow it to dry completely, about 4 hours.

3. When the step stool is dry, use a sanding block on the areas where you applied petroleum jelly. Those spots will still have a “wet” look to them, appearing slightly darker than the dry paint, so you’ll know exactly where they are. When you sand them, the paint should come off easily, exposing the bare, worn-looking wood underneath.

4. Wipe the stool with a clean rag to remove any dust.

5. Seal the stool by applying a layer of paste wax with a clean paintbrush, and then buff it thoroughly with a clean rag.

Photo by Courtesy of Page Street Publishing

Liz Fourez has a passion for interior design and homemaking. She’s the founder of the home and lifestyle website Love Grows Wild, where she shares project tutorials. These projects are from her book A Touch of Farmhouse Charm (Page Street Publishing).