The Best Farmhouse Style Homes From The Connecticut IDAs
Take a look back at previous winners from the Architecture and Builder Recognition categories.
2016 IDAs Winner
BROWNING RESIDENTIAL DESIGN
“I love these types of transformations,” says architect Margaret Browning Kufferman of Browning Residential Design. She means major changes: huge weight loss, a total makeover or a deeply imaginative renovation of the kind she completed for a Connecticut couple who both work in New York City media. The pair wanted a New England vernacular farmhouse; what they stumbled on—and bought, because it was on such a great piece of property—was a small (and pretty bedraggled) Cape house. But before they signed on the dotted line, they asked their architect for some ideas.
“The house is almost like the original sketches,” says Browning Kufferman. Those sketches increased the size without increasing the footprint. “I worked hard to get the proportioning and massing and details just spot on,” she notes. And she added those New England details in the form of a spectacular front porch (that the architect sees the couple using all the time when she drives by); solid cedar posts on that front porch; custom-milled interior paneling that was designed (in pencil) on-site; custom exterior molding; and drawing twice as much light into the house by changing the windows and dropping the sills down. The clients wanted a simple farmhouse aesthetic on the inside, which comes through in the addition of a few Shaker furniture pieces and clean, bright lines.
At first glance, the house fits seamlessly into its own vernacular, and seems like it’s always been there. It’s on the second and third and twenty-seventh look that the epic nature of its transformation comes into focus—and clearly. – Eva Hagberg Fisher
SHOSTAK CONSTRUCTION, LLC
Like a display in a boutique, this 19th-century New England farmhouse sits perched atop a hill. Once a 1940s cape, the now renovated home became the framework for an ambitious newlywed couple’s dream home on a stunning Fairfield County property. “Every time I drive by, I fall in love with it again,” notes Jack Shostak, owner of Shostak Construction. “It’s not incredibly massive, and yet it captures your eye.”
A large part of this effect, says Shostak, is the result of incorporating a front porch built in locally sourced wood, as it would have been nearly 200 years ago. Fir flooring on the porch, custom mahogany fasciae and clapboard siding supplement the second-floor addition to define a clear entrance point. Although the design schema of Browning Residential Design aligned with traditional farmhouse structures, according to Shostak, it was the attention to detail that made the straightforward structure so engaging. “It’s just simple lines, not incredible amounts of detail,” says Shostak. “But the detail put into it was done with a purpose. The molding, the window casings, it’s all very substantial.” – Mallory Abreu
2018 IDAs Winner
REESE OWENS ARCHITECTS
On the spot of a former working dairy farm in Sharon— complete with silos, pastures and barns—is now a kind of reinvented farmhouse meant wholly for our day and time. This spacious fieldstone and wood residence (set amid a 2017 Connecticut IDAs Landscape Design winner by Wesley Stout Associates) designed by Reese Owens Architects serves as “the new farm’s emblem.”
The clients’ wish to incorporate a silo into the structure could easily have become a cliché. But the design cleverly introduced an otherwise windowless concrete silo into the envelope of the structure, then capped it with a dramatic glass wraparound roof from which the clients can now survey their land. The vigorously articulated stone barn portion of the structure contains the main living spaces and incorporates a massive rolling door that fosters an effortless melding of indoor and outdoor spaces. – David Masello
In the old days, a farm silo was a relatively simple structure to build. But in the case of this newly constructed farmhouse in Sharon, a 40-foot silo, made of concrete and topped with a glass dome, required considerable engineering and crafting skills by its contractor, Brenner Builders. “There wasn’t a lot of tolerance in the interior diameter of the silo,” says company president Kevin Brenner, “and so we had to custom make supports for the form in our mill shop. We had to hire a crane to drop in the staircase from above. The dome couldn’t be put in place until the stairs were inside the form.” Now that the house is done, Brenner says, “There’s nothing about this house we’re not proud of.” – David Masello
2019 IDAs Winner
SANIEE ARCHITECTS LLC
It seems that the classic New England farmhouse, with its origins dating back centuries, might have been the first Modern house. Such dwellings were simple, clean forms absent of extraneous architectural ornamentation. Saniee Architects sought to replicate some of those vernacular houses with this new residence they designed for their clients. The overriding principle was to allow the materials, textures and colors to do much of the visual architectural work.
One of the motifs that the architects introduced, both inside and on the exterior, was that of woven sticks. The vertical boards on the exterior are echoed throughout the interiors, most notably with an intriguing, even sculptural, staircase, whose stick-like motif serves also as an interior wall. Ceiling beams further emphasize the idea of woven sticks. Meanwhile, an expansive glass wall effortlessly melds the interior with the outside. – David Masello
The biggest “problem” of a house designed by architect Mahdad Saniee is its biggest asset. “A house of this modest scale designed by anyone else would have been relatively easy to execute,” says the project builder David Lionetti, president of Shoreline Pools, “but Mahdad’s attention to detail required paying extra attention, at every moment, to all of my builders. Everything he designs is at the highest level of detail—even the plumbing and the fixtures, the alignment of the beams, the doors, the soffits.”
Saniee’s house was meant to replicate a typical New England farmhouse, simple in its geometry and unembellished, but he imbued every room and surface with a degree of detail that elevates the residence. “Was this a difficult house to build?” Lionetti asks rhetorically. “Only in the details.” – David Masello
The print version of this article appears with the headline: The Best of the IDAs.
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