Our Candid Opinions on the Modern Farmhouse Trend

The reality is that people want simple, and simple is hard.  It takes work, finesse, proper execution and forethought.  Then, it is great.

We’ll start with a bold statement: we’re not huge fans of the term “Modern Farmhouse.” We feel this way primarily because we do not consider the black and white, contemporary homes taking over your social media feeds to be representative of modern architecture, or of farmhouses. Rather, we believe that they are merely a return to basics, shedding the barnacles of decades of enthusiastic and intricate home designs—gone are the days of 7-piece moldings and architectural trends that tried to outdo one another year after year. In reality, the simplicity that homeowners crave, especially after a few tumultuous years, is what has ignited the soft spot that many have in their hearts for monochromatic, nostalgia-driven “modern farmhouse” architecture.


The Modern Farmhouse was Born Out of a Desire to Get Back to Basics


The simplicity of this “modern farmhouse”  trend is the attractive return to coziness that it represents, in addition to the chicness of being able to intermix simplistic and modern elements. All of these elements are set within the authenticity of natural woods that create the most basic form of architecture–the gable.  Consider the fact that materials such as steel, concrete, and wood are not new or modern. They have been around forever, yet can feel fresh and sleek when reimagined in a different way.


In reality, the “farmhouse” concept is merely a return to the basic form of an American home. If you were to ask a child to draw a house, they would not draw a center hall colonial, with its roof being pitched away from the front wall, or with some fake structure above the front door and an inaccessible railing that serves no purpose. The child will draw a simple front-facing gable with a well-proportioned fenestration of windows and a door. It’s the quintessential image of a home that is as old as time and is making its return.


Modern Architecture Requires More Than Painting Windows Black


Perhaps the one trend of the “modern farmhouse” that truly triggers us is the idea that the gesture of the black window “defines” this style. It does not. In fact, it fails the style. 


Residential architecture–not the sleek modern vernacular, but the typical American vernacular–requires scale. That scale is often reinforced by the sale of a window’s divided lite pattern. Architects appropriately design them but do so on paper or on a computer screen. In reality, during the daytime, the inside of the house reads as a dark hole no matter how illuminated the interior may be. The result is that the scale of the fenestration is lost as the black grills disappear–which means that all of the intended residential scale ultimately fails. This is why we are against the trend of the black window at Christopher Pagliaro Architects.  A “look” does not equate to a successful design. Therefore, we tend to utilize a gray window, thus enabling the design to read.


Lastly, white siding, or gray barn walls, with a black (or preferably a darker gray) window, does not define the “modern farmhouse” style. To create a successful “modern farmhouse,” one needs to understand that proportion, scale, and the relationships of elements are all vitally important. Both “modern” and “farmhouse” must therefore translate to “simplicity, slenderness, ratio, and proportion.”


For the first time in our careers, the importance of architecture–on the exterior of a residential design–requires function to follow form. Whereas the shingle-style home was about breaking the formality of a well-organized colonial in order to capture opportunities, such as views and sunlight, the modern farmhouse requires an execution of massing and fenestration that must reinforce the concept. The late, great architect, Hugh Newell Jacobsen, mastered this in his massing of form. 


They say that man made structures are utility, commodity, and delight, and that only architects are trained in “delight.” This is evident when driving through town and seeing far too many white houses with black windows that are nothing more than dressed in trend. To get these right, one must understand how the massing works together, how they may be separated from one another, the proportions of the fenestration, and how that is reinforced by the window scale.


Let’s call it what it is: for a long time, more effort was placed on guiding utilitarian challenges–such as covering the joint between a door frame and the drywall–than it deserved. Contrary, our team has always approached architecture as being about form, space, scale, order, and the subconscious experience of what excites people. 


Contact Christopher Pagliaro Architects Today To Learn More


At our firm, we mold into reality the visions of our clients and create spaces that foster the lives they wish to live. Want to learn more about our candid thoughts and philosophical approach to modern architecture? Contact Christopher Pagliaro Architects today

Want to Learn More About Farmhouse Architecture?

Hallmark of a Christopher Pagliaro Architects project is the marriage of the structure and site to create a sense of place. To get started on your waterfront home project, get in touch with our team today.

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