Saturday, August 8, 2009

A nod to the farmhouse...


While we get the loan stuff figured out, here's another change we've made since the contractor bidding process way back in December of last year. As you have seen repeatedly in the renderings my brother has done of our home design, the exterior siding material was originally planned to be cedar (either left natural or stained). We knew from our contractor interviews prior to the bidding that the cedar was likely going to be a "no go" due to a steep rise in cedar prices over the last few years. More than one contractor mentioned this in our interviews, and sure enough, the cost of the cedar siding in the bids we received was, in a word, huge.

So, we quickly decided that we would change to a fiber-cement siding product, such as Hardie siding, which is a quality siding that is almost maintenance-free (aside from needing to be painted every 15-20 years or so), is nearly fireproof since it does not contain wood, and is still aesthetically pleasing as it doesn't have the fake look of a vinyl or metal siding. Though we made this decision a long time ago, we did not decide on the color of the home until just recently. After looking at the renderings for all these past months, it was hard to envision our house being a solid color of some sort.

If we've ever been pressed to define a "style" of our house design (we always say, as my brother does, "It isn't designed with any particular 'style' in mind") we've always come up with "we think of it as kind of a contemporary farmhouse." This answer is really meant less as a definition of a style and more as a reinforcement that, in addition to the purpose of our home design being the embodiment of the family as the "domestic Church," we also purposefully sought an unabashedly Minnesotan design that echoes local vernacular architecture (for instance, see here).

That's where this wonderful book comes in. It's titled, "The Farmhouse: New Inspiration for the Classic American Home," by Jean Rehkamp Larson, and I found it while browsing at Barnes & Noble and had to buy it on the spot; it was so relevant to our home project. It's essentially a book entirely about modern farmhouses!

The book has me convinced that some day people will look back and end up labeling "modern farmhouse style" as an official term, and our house will hopefully be thought of as a fine example. I didn't think of it at the time, but this previous post has a bunch of other fine examples. I am especially gratified that my brother arrived at our design completely independent of any knowledge of any of the other projects exemplified in this book, giving the principles included in our home design even more credibility. For instance, one of the factors identified in the book as exemplary of modern farmhouse design is that the home looks like a collection or "settlement" of smaller buildings (which couldn't describe our home design any better, that's actually exactly what my brother was trying to accomplish). There are lots of other factors identified in the book that are perfectly echoed in our home design, too many to go into here.

Now, back to the decision about siding color. It was the "Farmhouse" book that crystallized for us a decision about color that we had discussed off and on, but never seriously. Here's a bunch of images from the book that will make the color choice quite clear:
White. Anyone can attest that the classic American farmhouse is most frequently white (paint was a luxury for farmhouses of the early 20th century and, if it could be afforded, white was almost always the only color available -- the term "whitewashing" was coined during this time). There are certainly a few non-white homes profiled in the "Farmhouse" book, but I would say about 80% of them are white; a nod to the classic American farmhouse. We like the cleanness of the look and we think it will really make the house stand out nicely.

There are a few other little decisions we've made (some before reading the "Farmhouse" book, some after) that will also help reinforce the modern farmhouse design. I'll save those for a future post.


John Curran said...

White. Nothing else shows up the sculptural form of an item like white! Great choice.

The 8th image from the book really impressed me. I love the look of a 'ruin', re-built with lots of glass (and often cedar or other wood) in a modern style. Something which might perhaps work itself into the details of your facade, which you've extended into a wall. A suggestion of antiquity and permanence.

Evan Koop said...

I like the white better than the tan of many of the renderings. Good choice.