Surrounded by forests and sitting on the banks of the New Haven River, Lincoln, Vermont, is a scenic town not far from the popular ski resort Sugarbush. Kim Smith raised his family here, in a circa-1835 farmhouse—a home that his son Oakley now resides in with children of his own.
Drawn back to this rural land that the Smiths have owned for more than 40 years, Kim turned to Oakley, founder of the construction firm Smith & McClain, and Shelburne–based Selin + Selin Architecture to create a small, energy-efficient abode that would peacefully co-exist with the 19th-century structure.
Doubling as a workshop, a barn that Kim built in the 1980s separates the original farmhouse from his new 1,800-square-foot, bi-level one. "We made a composition of this building in relation to that barn," says Stephen Selin, who leads Selin + Selin with his wife Judith. Given its central location, the barn organically imbues a sense of privacy between the two homes.
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Selin + Selin’s projects largely flaunt sustainable missions, and Kim’s was no exception. Built almost entirely to passive house standards, it features photovoltaic solar panels, cellulose and polystyrene insulation, and a radiant hydronic in-floor heating system. Locally milled barn board siding, a galvanized standing seam roof, and aluminum-clad triple-glazed windows that let in mesmerizing views of the outdoors pave the way to a light, understated interior outfitted with polished stained concrete and plaster enlivened by colors like aqua, chartreuse, and coral.
The farmhouse’s compact size naturally lends itself to warmth—and Selin + Selin amplified that welcoming aura by opting for materials in their raw states, like the railings crafted by a local metalworker. "They’re just metal, not painted to look fancy," he points out. "We didn’t want a dark, woodsy, camp feel."
Instead, it's airy, alluring nooks scattered throughout—including the dining room that easily morphs into a study, and the bedroom, reserved for visiting grandchildren, that is dressed with a porthole window. In the hushed upstairs loft, a pincushion-shaped chandelier with diamond-patterned cutouts appears to beautifully cleave the farmhouse into two symmetrical halves.
Locally sourced walnut abounds, and in the kitchen it takes the form of a centerpiece island accentuated by stained maple. Alongside one wall, the refrigerator and pantry are set underneath the loft area in a cube. They are "meant to be elements within the space, but they don’t define it. We didn’t want it to feel like it’s the limit of the room," explains Selin. "The cube is meant to be just another piece of furniture."
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