Modern Farmhouse

Modern Farmhouse is an architectural style which Dominique and I are both in love with. We were first exposed to this style on a trip to Austin, TX circa 2015. Austin has a ton of unique architecture, but this particular form was one that really appealed to us.

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The most prominent feature of a Modern Farmhouse design is probably a gable roof, with a rather steep pitch. This derives from the more general Farmhouse style. If you think about it, back when farmhouses were built by, and for, farmers, this roof style was attractive, as it was simple to construct. And in areas with cold winters the steep roof also helps shed snow. But I would say that what makes a farmhouse truly “modern” is a complete lack of roof overhangs (no eaves in other words).  A metal roof is also something that lends to the Modern Farmhouse design aesthetic. In the photo above the metal roofing material wraps right down off the roof and onto the sides of the home (I love that look). In this particular instance the material appears to be Corten steel. In case you’re not familiar with Corten, it is a specific alloy of steel, common in industry, where when it rusts, the layer of rust actually acts as a barrier to further oxidation. So you can use the material, leave it exposed (no paint), and over time it develops what many consider to be a beautiful orange-red color, which requires no maintenance. We clad the garage of one of our homes with this material and it turned out real nice.

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Another architectural technique that you might notice in some Modern Farmhouse designs is to make what is essentially one house, look instead like a collection of small structures. Sort of like a village, or a farmstead composed of numerous agricultural outbuildings. You need a large lot to execute this look. It is not easy to pull off on small and narrow suburban parcels. Local planning departments might only require that the separate structures be connected by unobstructed “conditioned” hallways in order for the entire assemblage to be officially considered a single residence.

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Modern Farmhouse will also commonly employ wood as the siding material, and sometimes even the roof, as shown above. I suppose this makes sense since farmhouses were traditionally built from wood. But in the modern interpretation the wood is often left unpainted, or is even reclaimed wood from some deconstructed barn for instance. If the wood is installed as a “rain screen” with an air gap behind it then the resulting air flow on both sides of the wood helps keep it dry and prevents rot. The air flow also helps keep a house cool in the summer.

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Here is a Modern Farmhouse style building made entirely from concrete. You are only limited by your imagination!

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Sometimes a modern farmhouse can look very much like a traditional farmhouse. In the photo above the dormers sort of add to that effect. Though we can see a modern twist to the dormers as they are partially “embedded” in the wall below. This detail combined with the standing seam metal roof and lack of any overhangs puts the overall design more into the “modern” camp.

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A highly symmetric window layout is a feature you might see on both traditional and modern farmhouses. Other times you will see the exact opposite scenario, where windows of varying sizes and aspect ratios are laid out asymmetrically, in a purposeful deviation from the traditional style, perhaps to accentuate the modern design.

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Doing some reading about farmhouses I learned that when an old farmhouse was first built, the farmer would usually start with a simple structure to house the family and make some room for cooking. As time went by, and over generations, additions were added to the original structure. Wings if you will. This concept is given a modern interpretation in the home shown above where it looks like a “box” was tacked on to the side of the original home. Also note the Corten steel used to frame the planters (retaining walls).

I’ve included some additional photos of the Modern Farmhouse vernacular below. These pictures have been collected over the years, as I’ve perused the web, and I save them to a folder on my computer for future reference.

Addendum: Watching the 2018 Tour de France, which began in Brittany, it reminded me that the Modern Farmhouse style is not unique to the U.S.  I may have inadvertently made it seem that way, but you will find the classic simple lines of a modern farmhouse all over Northern France, Belgium and Holland. And they are not new houses at all, some are very old. Simple rectangular shape, steep roof pitch, no roof overhangs. What makes a new modern farmhouse unique then, is the exterior finishes, which lean towards the industrial side of things. Corrugated metal, Corten, batt on board cementitious siding, reclaimed wood etc. I thought I should clear this up. For all I know the Modern Farmhouse style might have originated in Europe and then filtered over to the U.S. Many of the pictures I show above are actually houses in Europe.

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