Our house plans went to the county permit office last week (yay!), which means (fingers and toes crossed) we can start demo around Aug 15. The road to get here has been long and winding with a u-turn or two along the way. I've found that blogging about it in real time is anticlimactic and gets pretty hard to follow, so I thought I'd go backwards and show/tell what it took to get here -- the creating of our urban farmhouse. Here's part one, The Exterior.
We started working with our architect; Max Crome of Crome Architecture about a year and a half ago. To read my post and see more photos of the current/before exterior click here. Our house has some big flaws, like no front entry, a one-car carport and no powder room. In addition, there is virtually zero architecture. Equal parts blank slate and complicated puzzle for an architect. When Max asked us what style we wanted the house to look and feel like after it was completed, we (okay, I) said an urban farmhouse. What the heck does that mean? I realize now I was referring to a feeling more than a look.
Even though this was an improvement, it was not quite the look we were going for, yet I really wasn't sure how to achieve that look... If I couldn't articulate it, how could Max draw it? We didn't make any changes to this version until recently, because the focus was on the interior. Once those issues were resolved, we could tackle the rest.
This is the new cad drawing of the exterior and side of the house. The changes were all aesthetic, yet the look is completely different.
The bottom drawing is of the side of the house. The sliding doors open from the kitchen. There will be a platform deck in front of the doors.
When Max presented these drawings to us, he felt that we were now all 'speaking in the same vernacular. I agree! What helped most was providing Max with images of what we liked both in a general sense (ie, we love the feeling of this room, garden, etc) as well as photos of specific materials or elements. Here are some of the inspiration photos that I shared with Max. The process of collecting them actually helped me define what exactly is an urban farmhouse look.
above 4 photos - Backen Gillam Architects
The above photos were the first ones I saved. I'm a huge admirer of the work of Backen Gillam Architects. I know I've posted a few of these photos before, and this is probably not the last time. I just love the simplicity and charm of this house. It's is important to us that the first impression of our home be welcoming rather than intimidating in any way. I think this one achieves that too. The style here is a current take on the old California ranch style which blends so well in this area.
Stuart Silk Architect
Another one of my favorite architects - Stuart Silk. At first, we thought we were going to go with shingled siding, but along the way changed our minds. I still adore it, especially the way it ages and turns gray. These full length windows are amazing aren't they?
I don't have the source for this photo, but I love the shingled siding and simple arbor. I think it would be even prettier with white trim and landscaping.
above 3 photos - Walker Warner Architect
When I discovered the work of this local firm - Walker Warner Architects, I was blown away. At the time, the design of our house was starting to take shape and this house with the white board and batten siding and clean lines confirmed it. I adore the windows and doors! Notice the roof lines at different heights.
No source for the photo, but is it not filled with inspiration? Starting with the subtle landscaping. A potted orange tree near a door - that sweet scent drifting through an open window must be heavenly. I love stone fences, and this one with the little lavender hedge is just beautiful. I wish I knew more about this house - what is in the house/barn behind? Is this the main house or possibly a guest house?
Another decision we made is to paint the house white. White is my go-to color for all life's 'backdrops' - house, walls, dishes, stationary and sheets. Also, since we're keeping the wood siding on the older parts of the house, and using board and batten on the new addition, it will blend more seamlessly if it's all the same color. I think the above photo captures exactly what I love about white - everything looks better against it.
I was drawn to the combination of materials in this photo. Even though we won't have any other structures (...yet) on the property, I've confirmed my love for combining more than one material. Plus, the transom window over the french doors with the industrial light fixture couldn't be better.
photo via Martha Stewart
The soft gray color of this house is spectacular.
photo via Architectural Digest
Photo via New Zealand House & Garden
Photo via Architectural Digest
Barn doors are becoming more and more widely used in a variety of house styles these days, but they are a necessity for an urban farmhouse. It's easy to get carried away on a theme, so we plan to use them sparingly - probably only in one or two places.
Just to recap the urban farmhouse exterior design elements:
1. Board and Batten siding.
photo via Keith Wagner Landscape Architecture
2. All white.
photo via willow decor
3. Barn doors.
photo via the new york times
It's exciting to finally share the progress with you! I'm going to do my best to post regularly from now on. I'd love to hear what you think so far. What photos resonate with you and why?