A Light-Filled Modern Farmhouse Is Built For $240K

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By Lucy Wang
Inspired by the rural Wisconsin countryside, a team designs an elegant modern farmhouse with a simple exterior and a bright, airy interior.

Dotted with barns aplenty, the agricultural stronghold of Door County, Wisconsin, was the perfect place for Beth and her husband’s vision of a modern farmhouse. 

Enlisting the help of Minnesota-based Salmela Architect, the clients worked closely together with principal architect David Salmela, as well as  project architect Malini Srivastava to craft a custom rural home inspired by the local weathered barns.

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House for Beth is set on 16 acres of open field in Door County, a Wisconsin peninsula on Lake Michigan known for farming.

House for Beth is set on 16 acres of open field in Door County, a Wisconsin peninsula on Lake Michigan known for farming.

The house sits on an east-west axis with terraces on the north and south (one sunny and the other shaded), that can be enjoyed throughout the year.

The house sits on an east-west axis with terraces on the north and south (one sunny and the other shaded), that can be enjoyed throughout the year.

"Our client, Beth, loves the open farm fields of the area, and this project was in many ways her vision," note the architects, who named the project House for Beth. "They asked for a one-floor retreat with a minimal number of rooms and maximum amount of light and views, so that it would fit into the context of the open fields of Door County." 

Galvalume standing metal seam roofs reflect the sunlight, while horizontal planks of natural cedar siding are left untreated to weather.

Galvalume standing metal seam roofs reflect the sunlight, while horizontal planks of natural cedar siding are left untreated to weather.

A splash band of black Richlite wraps the base of the building to protect the timber siding from the snow and rain.

A splash band of black Richlite wraps the base of the building to protect the timber siding from the snow and rain.

As a result, the 1,093-square-foot farmhouse design features three main rooms with the division between private and public areas delineated by the stepped pitched roofs.

Black Richlite also wraps around the living area as an interior band above the wooden shelf.

Black Richlite also wraps around the living area as an interior band above the wooden shelf.

The taller gabled roof rests above the spacious open-plan living area, dining room, and kitchen, while the lower pitched roof houses the bathroom and two bedrooms in the rear. A third lean-to structure has also been added behind the bedrooms, and contains the mechanical systems.

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The walls are white-painted sheetrock and the floors are lined with local pine.

The walls are white-painted sheetrock and the floors are lined with local pine.

The minimalist design approach was also one of necessity due to the budget, which saw construction costs of $240,000.

"The house sits on a frost footing rather than a basement, and in lieu of a garage we designed a fenced car-court in the landscape," explain the architects. 

"The pine flooring and granite countertops are all made from relatively inexpensive local sources," say the architects, who cite the budget as the most challenging aspect of the project.

"The pine flooring and granite countertops are all made from relatively inexpensive local sources," say the architects, who cite the budget as the most challenging aspect of the project.

"The narrowness of the house enabled us to design a very efficient layout with ample daylight and a strong sense of connection to the surrounding fields throughout all of the spaces."

All the furniture was purchased from IKEA.

All the furniture was purchased from IKEA.

All costs for this farmhouse design—from the house and landscape to the installation of utilities and septic—averaged $248 per square foot. 

The open kitchen is fitted with black granite counters, a ceramic backsplash, and melamine cabinets.

The open kitchen is fitted with black granite counters, a ceramic backsplash, and melamine cabinets.

A look inside one of the two bedrooms.

A look inside one of the two bedrooms.

White painted fences define the parking area and entrance pathway to the house.

White painted fences define the parking area and entrance pathway to the house.

White windows and trim match the fences and provide a pop of contrast against the natural materials.

White windows and trim match the fences and provide a pop of contrast against the natural materials.

The architectural drawings of House for Beth.

The architectural drawings of House for Beth.

Project Credits:

Architect of Record: Salmela Architect / @davidsalmela

Builder/General Contractors: Highview Builders

Cabinetry Design/Installation: Rod & Son Carpentry