Designing the modern farmhouse
The traditional farmhouse has stood the test of time; with smart design and siding from AIA partner James Hardie, yours will as well
There’s a reason the traditional farmhouse style is still trending after hundreds of years. It’s simple, stylish, smart, and centered on sustainable design. Incorporate modern details and you’ve likely got a home style that will stick around another century.
In situ studio—known for their contemporary, sustainable work—created a lean, modern, 2,939-square-foot home with all the flow of a traditional farmhouse in Rolesville, North Carolina.
“Farmhouses around North Carolina are some of the most beautiful structures we have, and Raleigh has a rich modernist tradition,” says Matthew Griffith, AIA, principal at in situ studio. During their first site visit to their client’s 40 acres of working farmland outside of Raleigh, the team knew exactly where the home would sit. “Off the main road, tucked behind a slight rise of land, where there was a strip of forest that overlooks a stream,” Griffith says.
Keeping their modern farmhouse private was a priority for the clients, a young couple with two children. The acreage will soon be home to an organic U-Pick produce farm, so the family wanted separation between the public and their home.
Melding modern and traditional DNA
Like most traditional farmhouses, the format of the house telescopes out the back, with two stories in front and one in back. The wrapped porch’s main exposure faces south for airflow, and the exterior is clad in clean, simple lap siding.
“We incorporated all of the traditional farmhouse qualities that have lasted for hundreds of years.” Griffith says. “But upon closer inspection, the modern DNA appears.” You can see it in the thinness of everything—the columns, the overhangs, the siding, all of which add to a polished, crisp look.
Looking at the standing seam metal roof with oversized overhangs—measuring anywhere from 3.5 to 6 feet in length, with a 1x6 fascia—shows that they are much longer and thinner than traditional farmhouse overhangs. Designed with North Carolina climate in mind, the large, sturdy eaves help to protect against heavy snow, solar exposure and wind-driven rain. The exterior siding—5/16-inch thick HardiePlank lap siding in a 6-inch exposure with mitered corners with no trim—sleekly wraps around the home.
Some windows fill entire walls and skylights are carved into the gabled roof forms. Each one purposely designed to admit enough natural light so there’s no need for artificial light during the day. But more than that, he says, the window placement is about form and space in the home.
“In a traditional farmhouse, each room would have a window punched through middle of the wall,” Griffith says. “This house has a much more modern understanding of how you make openings and why.”
Each story tells a story
The modern farmhouse is always two stories tall. The front houses the public spaces and the two kids' bedrooms upstairs. The lower back of the home accommodates the master suite with a private deck and steps down a story to the basement, guest room, and playroom, with a private patio that leads to the woods.
Connecting all three levels and providing a full visual sweep of the interior is the stairwell, the spine of the home. It starts up in the kids’ rooms and leads down to the landing in the kitchen and living room, ending in the basement playroom—ideal for keeping tabs on the entire family.
Upstairs, in the kids’ room, the little ones can peer out the 6-foot by 6-foot window and see the perfectly framed large red oak tree that grows in the front field of the property. Much like a hundred years ago, the modern farmhouse is designed with the land in mind.
With the incorporation of thoughtful modern elements, traditional farmhouses like these assert a renewed sense of style. The merge of historical and innovative design makes it tough to tire of a style that just feels like home.
For more on HardiePlank siding, visit jameshardie.com.
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Richard Leo Johnson