Farmhouse Fever Sweeps City Homes

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The open-plan living room in Ted and Nicole Abramson’s 3,100-square-foot property in Minneapolis.

The open-plan living room in Ted and Nicole Abramson’s 3,100-square-foot property in Minneapolis.


Photo:

Rau+Barber for The Wall Street Journal

Far from the cornfields, with nary a dairy in sight sits Kimberly and

Peter Bocian’s

12,500-square-foot house outside of Atlanta. The kitchen features an old-fashioned farmhouse sink, and living-room cabinets are fronted with chicken wire. Elsewhere are sliding barn doors and ceiling beams made with reclaimed wood.

Mr. Bocian, the retired chief financial officer of the Safeway supermarket chain, paid $500,000 for the 3-acre lot in a high-end, gated community and over $3.4 million for the six-bedroom house, which was completed in 2016.

“We never close these barn doors; they’re really just for looks,” says Ms. Bocian, a 54-year-old human resources consultant. “I thought they’d bring more of that warm country, farmhouse feel.”

Farmhouse elements in Kimberly and Peter Bocian’s 12,500-square-foot house in Alpharetta, Ga.

Farmhouse elements in Kimberly and Peter Bocian’s 12,500-square-foot house in Alpharetta, Ga.


Photo:

Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn for The Wall Street Journal (4)

The Bocians’ family room has a vaulted ceiling with beams made of reclaimed wood.

The Bocians’ family room has a vaulted ceiling with beams made of reclaimed wood.


Photo:

Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn for The Wall Street Journal

These days, it seems like you can take the house out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the house. Inspired, in part, by the television show “Fixer Upper,” in which hosts Chip and

Joanna Gaines

promoted casual farmhouse chic, a growing number of homeowners are seeking designs that emphasize comfort over the sleek minimalism of recent years. Home builders say farm-style elements reflect Americans’ interest in their heritage and a nostalgic longing for the authenticity and craftsmanship of times past.

“Urban farmhouse is a safe choice that appeals to a wide audience,” says

Lisa Gabrielson,

an interior designer in Johns Creek, Ga., who designed the Bocians’ house and says 90% of her new projects have farmhouse flair.

Critics who say the look is becoming passe can complain until the cows come home. For now, farmhouse- or Craftsman-inspired homes sell for significantly more than other styles, according to RealEstate.com, a website owned by online real-estate firm Zillow. Including words like barn doors, exposed beams or free-standing tubs in a property listing can push up house prices by as much as 30%, its research found. A description that includes “farmhouse sink,” for instance, creates a 26% premium for an entry-level home and a 16% premium for a high-end house, says

Aaron Terrazas,

Zillow’s economic research director.


Country Charm in Urban Farmhouses

Inside some luxury homes in Georgia, Minnesota and Texas infused with farmhouse flair.

 
 

Kimberly and Peter Bocian’s 12,500-square-foot house in Alpharetta, Ga.

Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn for The Wall Street Journal
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Home builders large and small are fueling farmhouse fever. Atlanta-based Pulte Group uses it for many of its model homes. One, in its Blackrock development outside Las Vegas, comes with board-and-batten siding, wood beams and barn lighting. In San Antonio, the model home of a new master-planned community built by a local firm, Imagine Homes, features shiplap, stone walls and a desk that looks like a butcher block.

Toll Brothers
,

based in Horsham, Pa., recently introduced modern farmhouse exteriors at several of its Virginia communities. It also offers “urban farmhouse” as an design option for a new development, Eisenhower Square in Alexandria, Va.

“A good 70% of homes we are building right now are urban farmhouses,” says

Greg Alford,

owner of Alford Homes, a luxury home-building company in Dallas.

His company built a home for

Justin Cohen,

the owner of Kelli’s Gift Shop Suppliers, a Carrollton, Texas–based wholesale supplier of specialty gift stores. His 6,900-square-foot home in the Preston Hollow neighborhood of Dallas is a compromise between his own modern taste and the more traditional style favored by his fiancée, Blair Sirockman. The five-bedroom property has white brick and clean lines on the outside, and farm-style details such as exposed beams, shiplap ceilings and Shaker-style cabinets on the inside.

A painter bleached the reclaimed wood on the range hood then stained it in a gray hue for a weathered look. Beams in the living room, create contrast and different ceiling heights.

Justin Cohen and Blair Sirockman in their 6,900-square-foot home located in the Preston Hollow neighborhood of Dallas.

Justin Cohen and Blair Sirockman in their 6,900-square-foot home located in the Preston Hollow neighborhood of Dallas.


Photo:

Justin Clemons for The Wall Street Journal

For their Dallas home, the couple blended his modern style with her traditional aesthetic.

For their Dallas home, the couple blended his modern style with her traditional aesthetic.


Photo:

Justin Clemons for The Wall Street Journal

“It definitely adds more character and breaks things up,” says Mr. Cohen, 35, who declined to say how much he paid for the house. Mr. Alford, the builder, says comparable homes sell for a range of $250 to $300 per square foot of living space.

Ted and

Nicole Abramson’s

five-bedroom house in Minneapolis features the mix of urban and rural on its exterior. The 3,100-square-foot property consists of three parts: one with vertical clapboard siding and a slanted roof and one with a minimalist façade and a single-gabled, metal roof reminiscent of a small Midwestern farmhouse. Both are connected by a modern, steel paneled section with a flat roof.

“We wanted to create a home that blended an agrarian farmhouse vernacular with an urban townhome,” says architect

David Strand.

The idea, he says, was to “make something current and relevant, yet make it more approachable.” Around one third of Mr. Strand’s projects have facets of a farmhouse.

Mr. Abramson, a 36-year-old senior vice president with CBRE, a commercial real-estate services and investment firm, and his wife, Nicole, 35, bought a 1950s ranch house for $270,000 in 2009. Several years later, they razed it to its foundation and spent $620,000 rebuilding it, a job that was completed in 2016. The inside of the house, where the Abramsons live with daughters Sawyer, 3, and Quinn, 2 months, plus their dog Rafa, now combines modern industrial and farmhouse design. While the stairs are factory-style metal, the ceiling in the main living space is made of light-brown wood. There are walls clad in shiplap, a farmhouse sink with a goose-neck faucet and a bathroom mirror on rustic barn-door rollers that slides sideways to reveal a window.

Ted and Nicole Abramson with daughters Sawyer, 3, and Quinn, 6 weeks. The house’s current design resulted from a $620,000 renovation completed in 2016.

Ted and Nicole Abramson with daughters Sawyer, 3, and Quinn, 6 weeks. The house’s current design resulted from a $620,000 renovation completed in 2016.


Photo:

Rau+Barber for The Wall Street Journal

Says Ms. Abramson, a 35-year-old marketing consultant: “Shiplap adds that rustic feel without pulling you too far from modern design.”

The farmhouse trend is driving demand for reclaimed wood. “Something a lot of people don’t realize is that reclaimed wood is very tricky to find,” says

Cherami Thomas,

owner of Urban Farmhouse Designs, an Oklahoma City company that sells furniture made of repurposed wood, most of it from the flooring of old railroad cars.

Ms. Thomas and her husband, Jason, started the business from their garage five years ago but now have 100 employees and recently expanded to Dallas. The trend is now “blowing up,” she says, and will likely be around for a good 10 years.

Others fear the farmhouse look will fade. “I do worry about market saturation…it’s starting to be commonplace,” says Ms. Gabrielson, the interior designer. The next big trend, she predicts, could be “California cool,” with bleached floors and warm, light-brown accents.

Write to Cecilie Rohwedder at cecilie.rohwedder@wsj.com

Appeared in the July 6, 2018, print edition as ‘Farmhouse Fever Sweeps the City.’

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