A drab 1950s ranch in Virginia is reborn as a dignified 19th-century-style farmhouse with the help of a smart addition designed by architects Keith Scott and Julie Dixon.
Elegant old farmhouses are everywhere in scenic Albemarle County, Virginia, but until recently, this wasn't one of them. When architects Keith Scott and Julie Dixon first drove up the property's oak-draped drive, they discovered an uninspiring ranch that seemed out of step with its neighborhood. In spite of the home's lack of charm, Keith says, "Our clients didn't want to tear it down. They wanted us to transform it into a house worthy of its surroundings—to make it look like a classic 19th-century farmhouse." Drawing on local traditions and vernacular architecture, the duo designed a three-story addition in front of the ranch, thereby shifting the emphasis to the new portion, which includes a gracious entry, light-filled living room, and family bedrooms. With finishing touches such as period-appropriate hardware and lighting, the farmhouse now sprawls across its sunny knoll in perfect harmony with its more-historic neighbors.
The door's width is greater than usual—42 inches as opposed to 36 inches—to give it more weight and importance. The glass panes invite the outdoors in.
The use of a convincing manufactured-stone veneer (Fieldledge by Eldorado Stone; eldoradostone.com) instead of brick evokes the historic character of the area's early clapboard homes.
Different from the protruding pediment dormers above the porch, these dormers rise from the wall and pierce the roof eaves, bringing additional light inside.
The panes of the double-hung windows are proportional throughout, but their numbers vary (three-over-three, six-over-six, and nine-over-nine) to suggest additions made over time.
The layout and materials of a historic Virginia farmhouse may be simple and utilitarian, but popular European pattern books of architectural design created an awareness of symmetry and Classical proportion that's evident in even the most modest of dwellings. The style is easily recognizable by its white clapboard walls, standing-seam metal roof, double-hung windows, and louvered shutters. However, what truly defines the style is its easy relationship with the land—especially through spaces created by long, wide porches.