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Farmhouse Architecture


Our next style of home we want to profile is the Farmhouse. Over the next several months we will examine some common and some not so common architecture styles and how they are impacting today’s design.

Farmhouse Architecture:

The farmhouse was a functional home before it was an architectural style. In fact, it is uniquely American, a hybrid of architectural styles that were blended to produce these practical houses that would shelter farmers and their families and serve as a functional center to farm life. English colonial homes provided the basis for symmetry in the plan layout, the gable roof and double hung windows. The Greek Revival style gave us classical details and a lot of white paint or whitewash.

The architecture evolved to meet the needs of families who lived where they worked. The homes were generally simple, easy to build structures, constructed from locally sourced materials and built using time tested methods and features that worked for the climate of the area. In Pennsylvania and Maryland you’ll find homes built of stone that was removed from the fields to allow planting. In New England the homes are wood sided because trees were plentiful, and in the south the homes were built with porches on all four sides and lot of doors to catch the breezes for cooling from any direction.

Over the years these farmhouses evolved and were expanded as the family and living needs grew. Every house has a story, which can be told through the additions and the time periods in which they were added. The main house was built by the farmer, perhaps with his neighbor’s assistance to house his young family. Later a first floor bedroom may have been added for parents as they aged, an office added for the owner to manage his growing holdings and faming activities, or maybe an additional wing in an “L” or “T” shape was added that housed a son or daughter’s young family.

I recall that my wife’s grandmother’s farmhouse had what they called a “Summer Porch”, it was a one story shed roof addition out the back that included a first floor bedroom, a large pantry or “Larder” and a narrow porch that served as what we would refer to as a mud room today. It was the transition point between the farm yard and the house, where boots and outerwear were stored and cakes and pies could cool because the porch was unheated. I can almost smell the fruit pies she made as I write this….

Today, in an attempt to mix modern with the traditional farmhouse, many people change up the floorplan. Instead of duplicating the compartmentalized way rooms were laid out in old farmhouses, they open up the inside to design a more modern floor plan to suite their family’s needs, sometimes even employing post-and-beam timber construction to celebrate the idea of farm “structure”. The Farmhouse Style serves as a link from the past and an imagined “idyllic farm life” and the reality and stress of urban living today.

Key Features to a Farmhouse:

  • Straightforward, functional design, with additions added when needed
  • Simple, rectangular floor plan, formal in plan sometimes in an L or T shape
  • One-and-a-half or two stories
  • White or light-colored exterior
  • Side gable end roofs
  • Dormer windows
  • Welcoming, functional porches
  • Dominant fireplaces

If this is something you have considered but just didn’t know how to start the process, give us a call! We are great at taking something traditional and mixing some modern elements into it to make it fit your lifestyle. We love working with you, listening to your ideas and then making them come to life.

*Image found here

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