Monday, April 7, 2008

Style Guide: Mid-Atlantic Farmhouse

Situated on lush Pennsylvania farmland, this stately historic dwelling was faithfully restored and updated.

One sleety day 36 years ago, a determined woman first laid eyes on the stone farmhouse that would ultimately become her home. Although her husband initially expressed misgivings about its leaky roof and the holes in the floors, the couple purchased the historic structure and established residence in it just prior to the birth of their first child. "We have never stopped working on the place," says the wife. In 1991, the homeowners restored the farmhouse, refitted the plumbing, and added on a new kitchen and family room.

Let's have a look at this rejuvenated country classic.

Front Door

The classic lines of this house are actually composed of several additions. The oldest section of the house lies to the right of the front entrance; the 1840 twin addition to the left. Subsequent lateral expansions were undertaken in 1928 and 1991.

The palette of the house's exterior was limited so that the colors would harmonize with one another; both the brick-colored shutters and white azaleas complement the stone facade. The house is gently nestled amongst dogwood, ash, walnut, and locust trees.

Living Room

Situated in the oldest section of the house, the tranquil living room is a sophisticated mix of antiques. Pale peach walls, polished wood floors, and Oriental rugs provide a perfect setting for the exquisite period furnishings.

The 19th-century Philadelphia antique pieces include a graceful c. 1810 sofa that features carved feathers on its crest rail and a c. 1810 card table (at right) with brass accents. Both pieces have been attributed to Joseph B. Barry, a celebrated Philadelphia cabinetmaker. Standing in front of the windows are c. 1805 mahogany side chairs.

Stone Room

The cool, rough textures of the "stone room" offer a marked contrast to the polished living room. A 1780 flintlock rifle, pewter dinnerware, and candlesticks turned from centuries-old Irish bog oak are displayed on the late-18th-century mantel.

A rounded-back side chair from the Orkney Islands and a c. 1790 comb-back Windsor flank the hearth, where the family shepherd, Elsa, rests. The wife created the colorful arrangement in the fireplace using flowers from her own gardens.

Dining Room

Sunny yellow walls and a blue patterned area rug make a dramatic statement in the formal dining room. Filling the space are a c. 1815 Philadelphia table, a c. 1740 walnut Queen Anne highboy, and c. 1810 Philadelphia side chairs and armchairs made by Joseph B. Barry.

Nineteenth-century Canton porcelain is displayed on the shelf above the windows and on top of the highboy. In the hallway, a copper urn rests atop a c. 1810 lyre-base worktable. Hanging overhead is a c. 1750 print by English naturalist Mark Catesby.


When the new kitchen was constructed in 1991, its cramped predecessor was converted into a pantry. Several people can now work in the new space, which looks as if it existed all along. The pine cabinetry was custom-made for the kitchen, and the work island was topped with granite for aesthetics as well as practicality.

Designed by Henry Chapman Mercer (1856-1930), a proponent of the American Arts and Crafts movement, the hand-painted ceramic tiles that decorate the range hood depict tradespeople at work. The wife's home office lies beyond the Dutch door.

Guest Room

The guest room is decorated with fine antiques. The four-poster twin bed with pineapple carved detailing is dressed with a crocheted spread that was found at a secondhand store for $25. A handmade country quilt folded at the foot of the bed adds a soft range of color to the room. On the c. 1805 bachelor's chest sits an English shaving stand.

The gown hanging from the door was worn by the owner's elder daughter on her wedding day. It features a bodice trimmed with old family lace and an embroidered peacock-motif front panel that once served as the train on the owner's and her mother's wedding gowns.

No comments: