HGTV Green Home 2012: Modern Farmhouse Style

Experts at Kemp Hall Studio reinvent the notion of Southern farmhouse.

HGTV Green Home 2012 should represent the very best in Southern home design, thought architect Steve Kemp and residential designer Georgia Muncaster of Kemp Hall Studio, the perfect balance of old architectural details and new home systems and design elements. So where does the design process begin? “We looked at images of Southern-vernacular farmhouses and evaluated them on the massing, the shape of the home, the general roof lines and how are they configured,” says Steve.

After evaluating roof forms, porch design and location, window design and location, ceiling heights and exterior materials, the duo proceeded with concept sketches, transforming traditional Southern-farmhouse details into a modern, green design. The original character of roof lines and massing were preserved, while a contemporary spin gave new life to exterior details. Traditional lap siding, for instance, is presented with no corner boards and fashioned from fiber cement rather than wood, and weathered sandstone stands in for a solid granite-block foundation. “The concept was to mix an old with a new feel,” says Georgia. “That’s why we wanted to do the very rustic stone foundation. We have the simple form of the farmhouse with a traditional siding used in a different way and then the traditional metal roof.”

See Traditional and Modern Farmhouse Features of HGTV Green Home 2012

The lot is also designed to recall the look and feel of an old farmstead, which would have included a farmhouse structure and outbuildings — a well house, smoke house, etc. “That’s what drove us to do the master bedroom configuration so it's kind of like its own little structure that happened to be connected to the main house,” says Steve, who adds that the garage will be constructed to resemble an old wagon shed.

What design elements of the Southern-vernacular farmhouse were ditched? For one, the configuration of windows. The team clad entire walls in glass and inserted accordion doors and narrow vertical windows where once one large, strategically placed sash window would have provided light and ventilation. Doors, too, take on added importance, as today’s homeowner demands connection between indoor and outdoor living spaces. And lastly, the HGTV Green Home 2012 floor plan borrows little if nothing from historic forms. “Floor plans were all broken up, with lots of individual rooms just sitting unto themselves — a formal parlor, a small living room — everything closed off, room after room after room,” says Steve. “And that’s not at all how people live today. People typically want to have that one connected living space, which is the kitchen, dining and gathering room. And that’s where they will spend 90 percent of their time.”

The melding of old and new connects HGTV Green Home 2012 to its location and community, and the resulting design makes sense now and potentially for years to come. “We wanted to look at something that was very Southern, very Georgia,” says Steve. “But give it something new, and fresh, and different. And ultimately create something that is very timeless.”

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