Most Minnesotans build weekend houses on one of the state’s 10,000-plus lakes. But the owners of this house are urbanites who wanted a weekend getaway on a farm. The site they chose is two hours from the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area and sits between two topographies, with the St. Croix River valley on one side and prairie land on the other. The home’s design recalls the region’s farmhouse tradition, which dates back to the late 19th century. “It was the Victorian era and there were tall, vertical forms with simple T- or L-shaped plans, and a porch on one end,” says architect Jean Rehkamp Larson, who designed the home with husband and partner, Mark Larson.
Like its predecessors, the house strikes a classic pose: Simple forms fused at right angles, a high-pitched gable roofline, and minimal detailing all adhere to time-honored design principles, but the materials and construction methods are very 21st century. The home is LEED certified, built on a thermal mass foundation, and the walls and roof are structural insulated panels. A cupola provides old-fashioned charm, but with operable windows that let hot air out and pull cool air in, it also provides natural ventilation.
A connection to the outdoors was important to the clients, so Rehkamp Larson designed a screen porch on the east side, and a large, open porch on the west side. The architects punctuated the white fiber cement cladding, painted metal roof, and double-hung windows with some unexpected elements including galvanized porch columns, “a nod to a tougher industrial, barn aesthetic,” says Rehkamp Larson, who likes adding modern materials to simple forms.
The interior also is a mix of old and new. An open floor plan is finished with locally sourced cherry wood floors, exposed structural glulams painted white, quartz countertops, and a center staircase partially enclosed by white horizontal slats reminiscent of old corn cribs. While most people are drawn to familiar, comfortable designs, the architects take opportunities to be creative with floor plans and touches of modern materials that are in line with the comfort level of their clients. “I like to give them something fresh, that functions well, but is unexpected in places,” Rehkamp Larson says. “We always consider the context, bring some history back, and then try to reinterpret it.”
Anderson Farmhouse, Lake City, Minn.
Architect: Albert, Righter & Tittmann, Boston
Builder: Roger Wilkie Builder, Tiverton, R.I.