Farmhouse Chic

By Karen Parr-Moody

If television shows such as "American Pickers" have taught us one thing, it is that industrial décor is in, especially when it takes a farmhouse spin. Tattered treasures such as wire egg baskets and metal milk cans add up to create the effortless style of farmhouse chic.

Thankfully GasLamp is filled with such items for those of us who aren't bohemian enough to comb the countryside's barns and attics.

Elevating cast-off items is a tenet of the farmhouse chic look. Such items included in the look are farm tables, pie safes, burlap bags, crewel fabrics, wire baskets, galvanized metal wash tubs and enamel ware bowls. And that's just the tip of the crock.

These various items may be repurposed into a beautiful decoration. Then again, they may simply be featured as singular conversation pieces. Or they may be included in a collection and proudly displayed, such as a grouping of vintage canisters and enamel ware bowls on top of a pie safe. 

Seekers of farmhouse chic will be happy to find GasLamp's booth B-114, where the 1950s Dairy Queen milk can in the photo, left, is located ($275). The booth includes items that might seem like oddities to some (antique mousetrap, anyone?) and like treasures to others.

This milk can takes us back to the simpler way of life celebrated with farmhouse chic. The use of such cans began after the Civil War. It was then that the dairy industry was booming and milk was transported in such cans from the farm to the dairy (this was, of course, before milk trucks and their huge tanks). They generally held 5 to 10 gallons of milk.

Such a vintage milk can can be used for decorative purposes. The center can be wrapped in a band of pretty fabric, such as toile, to dress it up. It can then be used to hold flowers or as an umbrella holder. Or it can be placed next to a porch chair as an easy, breezy decoration in the manner of a ceramic Chinese or Moroccan garden stool.


The journey of milk to the doorstep began in the late 19th century. Milk was poured directly from the farmer’s churn into bottles that the milkman delivered to his customers. These customers would leave the empties on their doorsteps to be recycled. Many collectors love to seek out these glass bottles, which usually have the dairy's logo embossed on the side.

Most people of today don't recall the era of the milkman, when he drove door to door and delivered fresh milk in bottles. Milk bottles existed from the late 1800s through the mid-20th century, before waxed-paper cartons hit supermarket shelves.

Other collectors enjoy finding the baskets or containers that would have held such bottles back in the day. One such container is the yellow-and-green version in the photo, above right ($48; Booth B-119).

Another such container is the antique wire caddy in the photo, left (caddy, $78, ball jars, $10 each; Booth B-113). The blue Ball jars would be lovely receptacles for displaying fresh flowers in the windowsill. Bright yellow daffodils would be a stark contrast to the clear blue color.



Whether or not one lives in the country, one can enjoy farmhouse chic easily with this bright green "fresh produce" sign in the photo, right ($45; Booth B-114).










Where else should the antique washboard in the photo, left, turn up but in the washroom ($78; Booth B-113)? It would make for nice wall art hanging about the modern washing machine or propped on a shelf next to the dryer sheets. Wooden washboards originated in Europe. But they were improved on in America in the early 1800s with the addition of fluted tin. A patent was taken out in 1833 by one Stephen Rust in Manlius, New York.

Farmhouse chic makes for a cozy atmosphere that expresses the charm of a bygone era in a fresh way.  With GasLamp's help, it's easy put together some farmhouse items, even for someone who has never seen the inside of a barn.


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