20 Modern American Farmhouses That Update Tradition

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By Byron Loker
With a strong connection to the land and a nostalgic silhouette, there's something special about farmhouses that recalls a bygone era.

But that doesn't mean they have to be stuck in the olden days. In fact, many architects have created new homes that are inspired by the classic structure, while others have renovated old farm buildings, introducing new materials and modern amenities. Here are a few examples of the traditional farmhouse that have been reinvented.

1. Recalling Old-Time Americana

Thanks to Matthew Hufft, their envelope-pushing architect and longtime friend, Hannah and Paul Catlett have a new home in southwestern Missouri that’s a fresh, unconventional take on the traditional farmhouse.

Thanks to Matthew Hufft, their envelope-pushing architect and longtime friend, Hannah and Paul Catlett have a new home in southwestern Missouri that’s a fresh, unconventional take on the traditional farmhouse.

"The main volume presents a traditional front and is wrapped on the west and south by a deep porch," says architect Erin Sterling Lewis. "Living and dining spaces access the porch." A standing seam metal roof with a Kynar finish and HardiePlank Lap Siding cover the exterior of this 3,000-square-foot home.

"The main volume presents a traditional front and is wrapped on the west and south by a deep porch," says architect Erin Sterling Lewis. "Living and dining spaces access the porch." A standing seam metal roof with a Kynar finish and HardiePlank Lap Siding cover the exterior of this 3,000-square-foot home.

Self-taught designer Tom Givone continued his practice of updating 19th-century farmhouses with unexpected details and salvaged materials with this creation—a torqued-volume addition to an 1850s family homestead in Pennsylvania.

Self-taught designer Tom Givone continued his practice of updating 19th-century farmhouses with unexpected details and salvaged materials with this creation—a torqued-volume addition to an 1850s family homestead in Pennsylvania.

Nicknamed the Floating Farmhouse, this 200-year-old home inspired one former copywriter to delve into architecture as a living. Inside, renovator and owner Tom Givone mixes vintage and industrial decor. 

Nicknamed the Floating Farmhouse, this 200-year-old home inspired one former copywriter to delve into architecture as a living. Inside, renovator and owner Tom Givone mixes vintage and industrial decor. 

This contemporary farmhouse was designed for a client that loves to cook and entertain in the open air.

This contemporary farmhouse was designed for a client that loves to cook and entertain in the open air.

"Like the old farmhouses and barns of the Champlain Valley, the Foote Farm House has a clearly ordered wood frame on a sturdy foundation, an exterior skin made of local materials, an economy of form with tried-and-true proportions, a central fireplace, and a common-sense relationship to the sun and the weather." - Architect John McLeod

"Like the old farmhouses and barns of the Champlain Valley, the Foote Farm House has a clearly ordered wood frame on a sturdy foundation, an exterior skin made of local materials, an economy of form with tried-and-true proportions, a central fireplace, and a common-sense relationship to the sun and the weather." - Architect John McLeod

Geoff and Joanna Mouming’s compact modern farmhouse is the first permanent structure at Yum Yum Farm in Wellman, Iowa. On the field that stretches out before it, organic vegetables will soon make attentive farmers of the Moumings. The benches on their entry porch were built by Geoff using a design plan by Aldo Leopold, the pioneering Iowa-born conservationist and writer whose spirit and thoughts seem to preside over the house.

Geoff and Joanna Mouming’s compact modern farmhouse is the first permanent structure at Yum Yum Farm in Wellman, Iowa. On the field that stretches out before it, organic vegetables will soon make attentive farmers of the Moumings. The benches on their entry porch were built by Geoff using a design plan by Aldo Leopold, the pioneering Iowa-born conservationist and writer whose spirit and thoughts seem to preside over the house.

Two hours north of New York City, an unusual barn emerges from a hill just off a country road. Its black siding and bright-red window frames hint at the imaginative playground inside. This space, with its rope-railed catwalk and indoor tent, is just one element of the multifaceted getaway architecture and design firm BarlisWedlick Architects designed for fund manager Ian Hague. Farther up the hill sits its counterpoint, a 1,800-square-foot home designed to meet strict Passive House Institute efficiency standards.

Two hours north of New York City, an unusual barn emerges from a hill just off a country road. Its black siding and bright-red window frames hint at the imaginative playground inside. This space, with its rope-railed catwalk and indoor tent, is just one element of the multifaceted getaway architecture and design firm BarlisWedlick Architects designed for fund manager Ian Hague. Farther up the hill sits its counterpoint, a 1,800-square-foot home designed to meet strict Passive House Institute efficiency standards.

Between two of the most beautiful towns on the California coast, Carmel-by-the-Sea and Big Sur, there’s a hidden valley: 31 square miles shared by just 300 families, each of whom owns a small parcel and the right to build. San Francisco architect Eric Haesloop discovered the preserve through his clients Bob and Allyson Kavner, who own five acres there. The Kavner house is a California take on the classic Adirondack style of upstate New York. The main house is used every weekend and the cabins fill up at family gatherings.

Between two of the most beautiful towns on the California coast, Carmel-by-the-Sea and Big Sur, there’s a hidden valley: 31 square miles shared by just 300 families, each of whom owns a small parcel and the right to build. San Francisco architect Eric Haesloop discovered the preserve through his clients Bob and Allyson Kavner, who own five acres there. The Kavner house is a California take on the classic Adirondack style of upstate New York. The main house is used every weekend and the cabins fill up at family gatherings.

When beginning construction, Austin-based contractor Royce Flournoy hoped that the simple, gabled structure of the farmhouse-style home he now shares with his partner would blend seamlessly into the urban space around it. Flournoy’s partner is a baker, and was given free reign to develop a kitchen that met his needs. The space combines black, Shaker-style cabinets, white subway tiles, Carrera marble countertops, and wooden floors to create a balance between rustic warmth and industrial simplicity.

When beginning construction, Austin-based contractor Royce Flournoy hoped that the simple, gabled structure of the farmhouse-style home he now shares with his partner would blend seamlessly into the urban space around it. Flournoy’s partner is a baker, and was given free reign to develop a kitchen that met his needs. The space combines black, Shaker-style cabinets, white subway tiles, Carrera marble countertops, and wooden floors to create a balance between rustic warmth and industrial simplicity.

Settled in the late 1800s in Pleasant Grove, Utah, Snuck Farm is still run by the same family but has now transformed from a traditional farmhouse into a community-oriented organization. The farm’s mission it to promote a sustainable lifestyle and to produce fresh, organic food that benefits the entire community. Louise Hill of Louise Hill Design collaborated with Lloyd Architects studio to design a new barn which combines public, private and work spaces. 

Settled in the late 1800s in Pleasant Grove, Utah, Snuck Farm is still run by the same family but has now transformed from a traditional farmhouse into a community-oriented organization. The farm’s mission it to promote a sustainable lifestyle and to produce fresh, organic food that benefits the entire community. Louise Hill of Louise Hill Design collaborated with Lloyd Architects studio to design a new barn which combines public, private and work spaces. 

During harvest season in Sebastopol, California, the sweet smell of fermenting apples travels from the orchards all the way to Highway 101, luring drivers off the road in search of a fresh Gravenstein or Golden Delicious. Though just 50 miles north of San Francisco, the Sonoma County town is absolutely rural, dense with fruiting trees and vineyards, and it’s partly for this that Naomi Hupert and Ben Kinmont moved here with their son, Ian, and daughter, Natasha, in 2003. But they couldn’t leave New York City behind entirely, so they found a pair of architects who could adapt elements of their Manhattan loft to the California countryside.

During harvest season in Sebastopol, California, the sweet smell of fermenting apples travels from the orchards all the way to Highway 101, luring drivers off the road in search of a fresh Gravenstein or Golden Delicious. Though just 50 miles north of San Francisco, the Sonoma County town is absolutely rural, dense with fruiting trees and vineyards, and it’s partly for this that Naomi Hupert and Ben Kinmont moved here with their son, Ian, and daughter, Natasha, in 2003. But they couldn’t leave New York City behind entirely, so they found a pair of architects who could adapt elements of their Manhattan loft to the California countryside.

A Kennebunk family needed their forever home, and the old farmhouse and barn that stood on their property wasn't going to cut it. The architects at Caleb Johnson Studio started the process by salvaging everything they could from the old buildings, including the timber roof structure, interior wood cladding, and interior doors. Additionally, the architects also claimed cabinetry and fixtures from a midcentury home that was being torn down in Weston, Massachusetts. By incorporating such materials into the new home's design, they were able to create a modern farmhouse with soul. 

A Kennebunk family needed their forever home, and the old farmhouse and barn that stood on their property wasn't going to cut it. The architects at Caleb Johnson Studio started the process by salvaging everything they could from the old buildings, including the timber roof structure, interior wood cladding, and interior doors. Additionally, the architects also claimed cabinetry and fixtures from a midcentury home that was being torn down in Weston, Massachusetts. By incorporating such materials into the new home's design, they were able to create a modern farmhouse with soul. 

Architect Preston Scott Cohen resurrected an early 1800s barn as a vacation home for a literary couple and their family, calling to mind both the agrarian spaciousness of the structure’s former life and the vernacular of its new function as a house. Transcending both, Cohen created a piece of architecture that is at once porous and opaque, familiar yet otherworldly.

Architect Preston Scott Cohen resurrected an early 1800s barn as a vacation home for a literary couple and their family, calling to mind both the agrarian spaciousness of the structure’s former life and the vernacular of its new function as a house. Transcending both, Cohen created a piece of architecture that is at once porous and opaque, familiar yet otherworldly.

Tasked with creating a multi-use guest pavilion on a relatively small Northern California vineyard lot that could also host sit down dinners for up to 60 people, designers at Anderson Architects started by asking the key questions:  "Where should it be within the property?"  "How much floor area do we need for a 60 person dinner?" "How much volume do we need for a basketball court?"  "We also always tell ourselves to look at the landscape first, let it dominate and lead it through. The building took the form of a large Napa Valley barn."

Tasked with creating a multi-use guest pavilion on a relatively small Northern California vineyard lot that could also host sit down dinners for up to 60 people, designers at Anderson Architects started by asking the key questions: "Where should it be within the property?" "How much floor area do we need for a 60 person dinner?" "How much volume do we need for a basketball court?"  "We also always tell ourselves to look at the landscape first, let it dominate and lead it through. The building took the form of a large Napa Valley barn."

Where the New Buffalo Residence now stands on a wooded lot by the shores of Lake Michigan, there used to be a serpentine ranch house with perplexingly small windows, none of which pointed toward the water. The homeowners had used it as a vacation retreat for over 30 years before an expanding family—and guest list—led them to approach architecture firm Booth Hansen for a fresh design. "They wanted to feel the lake from every room," says principal Trina Sandschafer. "They wanted the house to breathe and have a connection between the indoors and the outdoors."

Where the New Buffalo Residence now stands on a wooded lot by the shores of Lake Michigan, there used to be a serpentine ranch house with perplexingly small windows, none of which pointed toward the water. The homeowners had used it as a vacation retreat for over 30 years before an expanding family—and guest list—led them to approach architecture firm Booth Hansen for a fresh design. "They wanted to feel the lake from every room," says principal Trina Sandschafer. "They wanted the house to breathe and have a connection between the indoors and the outdoors."

The nearly 100 year-old Victorian farmhouse clearly had good bones, but over the years unfortunate facelifts and additions had left it somewhat listless as well as thermally challenged in both summer and winter. The design team approached the project with the sensibility that the original Victorian had a certain charm and should remain essentially unchanged, but that the renovated kitchen and dining room addition should have an open ‘Zen’ feeling through a connection to the surrounding garden.

The nearly 100 year-old Victorian farmhouse clearly had good bones, but over the years unfortunate facelifts and additions had left it somewhat listless as well as thermally challenged in both summer and winter. The design team approached the project with the sensibility that the original Victorian had a certain charm and should remain essentially unchanged, but that the renovated kitchen and dining room addition should have an open ‘Zen’ feeling through a connection to the surrounding garden.

Originally built at the turn of the last century, this modest country house had traditional closed-off rooms and small windows facing the large lot with various outbuildings. The house was expanded by adding a master suite in a complementary shape. The existing portion of the home was modernized by opening the floor plan, modifying rooflines and adding large sliding doors to connect to the outdoors visually and physically. 

Originally built at the turn of the last century, this modest country house had traditional closed-off rooms and small windows facing the large lot with various outbuildings. The house was expanded by adding a master suite in a complementary shape. The existing portion of the home was modernized by opening the floor plan, modifying rooflines and adding large sliding doors to connect to the outdoors visually and physically. 

Inspired by hilltop views and traditional New England farm and barn structures, Marvin Architect's Challenge-winner Michael Waters of LDa Architecture & Interiors set out to strike the perfect balance between time-tested tradition and sophisticated, clean lines. The site includes a farmhouse-inspired residence along with a timber-framed barn and attached greenhouse, adjacent to an enclosed garden area and surrounded by a beautiful orchard.

Inspired by hilltop views and traditional New England farm and barn structures, Marvin Architect's Challenge-winner Michael Waters of LDa Architecture & Interiors set out to strike the perfect balance between time-tested tradition and sophisticated, clean lines. The site includes a farmhouse-inspired residence along with a timber-framed barn and attached greenhouse, adjacent to an enclosed garden area and surrounded by a beautiful orchard.

In 2011, clients Brent Habig and Ana Ecclesthe surveyed the property with architect Jim Cutler, planting stakes at a number of sites. Cutler drew up a different house for each, recalling from his youth the region’s vernacular—especially the crisp white barns nestled into lush green landscapes. They would inspire the form of the couple’s new 2,800-square-foot home. It is designed to capture natural light, but also to cool interiors on hot summer days, using tall, sliding shutters that can cover the two-story home’s windows from floor to ceiling.

In 2011, clients Brent Habig and Ana Ecclesthe surveyed the property with architect Jim Cutler, planting stakes at a number of sites. Cutler drew up a different house for each, recalling from his youth the region’s vernacular—especially the crisp white barns nestled into lush green landscapes. They would inspire the form of the couple’s new 2,800-square-foot home. It is designed to capture natural light, but also to cool interiors on hot summer days, using tall, sliding shutters that can cover the two-story home’s windows from floor to ceiling.