Everhart and his wife, April, bought the structure for $72,000 two years ago, along with two and a half acres near Boone, North Carolina. The farmhouse was falling down, literally. They demolished the building – salvaging some hemlock and chestnut flooring here, some one-inch-by-ten-inch planks of white pine there – and set about rebuilding on the original concrete block foundation.
He hired a few students from nearby Appalachian State University, where he teaches design to future construction managers. They helped him rebuild, he says, and learned how to work from an existing structure on a small footprint. "We salvaged the best we could," he says. "And they got to witness design-build, first-hand."
The form hasn’t changed much. The team added a porch to each end – one for dining, the other for leisure – and a pair of what Chad calls "bump-outs," or saddlebags, on the sides to extend interior spaces by a few feet. The roof pitch remains the same, though its Galvalume roofing actually rolls down to serve as sheathing for the saddlebags. "We reinterpreted the local stuff," Chad says of his 950-square-foot 'Farmhouse Redux'. "The inspiration was to keep it small. That’s the way people live out here. Smaller means more manageable."
All architectural decisions were based on economics. As much as possible of the original framing was carefully dismantled, de-nailed and re-used for structural and finish materials. New finish and framing materials were purchased from local hardware stores, sawmills, lumberyards, and farm supply stores.
Locally harvested white pine was milled at a nearby sawmill fifteen minutes away. "Wood here is cheaper than drywall," Everhart explains. "We used white pine from Tennessee – I can see the Tennessee border from here. The same mill did the floors and the walls, and the wood’s all local." His frugality paid off—the total cost for house and land was $159,000, which is a bargain in times like these.
Because there is no air-conditioning (the home is in the mountains of North Carolina), industrial ceiling fans from Home Depot are used to circulate cool air in summer. The environmentally neutral, clean-burning stove is a Scan. It heats the entire house during the winter. The house is all-electric, and monthly bills rarely exceed $50.
"Its exposure is to the southeast, which is not too bad," says Everhart. "But being such a small house, it’s tougher to do solar heat. So we focused on using its orientation for daylighting with the clerestory." The windows are made of clear walled polycarbonate, provide an insulated barrier between rooms, and also allow natural light to bounce between the bedroom and living areas.
The home’s wood framing and metal cladding is exposed, an acknowledgement of the raw structural systems of nearby dairy barns. Its outdoor dining area’s corner opening frames a view of a creek nearby, with cribbing that modulates light while paying tribute to the cladding of local barns. And the iconic main entrance is a red barn door, made from salvaged pine from the original farmhouse. "I want to reinterpret vernacular architecture in a more modern way," Everhart says. "I want to look at where we live, and when we live. The concept for this home is to build like a farmer."
Like the people and homes or rural North Carolina, Farmhouse Redux is a modest residence, in both size and architectural features. The new owners wanted to acknowledge the history of the local inhabitants – many of whom are descendants of the farmhouse’s original owner – but make updates for modern living. "It’s an abstraction of the local vernacular buildings," Chad says, "and it pays homage to more primitive and resourceful times."
To see more images of the project, please visit the slideshow.
J. Michael Welton
J. Michael Welton is architecture critic for the News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C. His work has appeared in national and international publications like The New York Times, The Washington Post, Metropolis, Interior Design, Architectural Record, and Ocean Home. He is the author of "Drawing from Practice: Architecture and the Meaning of Freehand." He is also editor and publisher at www.architectsandartisans.com.