Gothic Farmhouse, Chapel Hill, North Carolina

A couple living in rural North Carolina are building a new farm; someday it will have orchards, vegetables and perhaps some animals. They were lucky to find a large parcel of land with two ponds and a long, winding farm road. From the beginning, we were all drawn to the writings of AJ Downing, who made the romantic landscape and Gothic architecture so popular in the United States nearly two centuries ago. His instructions for both farm and house design remain inspiring.

When looking through Downing's books, such as "The Architecture of Country Houses," we were drawn to the picturesque composition and simple-yet-rich detailing of what is sometimes called Carpenter Gothic. Some designs mimic stone houses in England; others celebrate rustic American construction. We decided to break down the house's program into several buildings to keep the massing small and to maximize light and ventilation.

The interior spaces are rustic and fun, designed to feel well-worn and well-loved like old slippers. Salvaged pieces were incorporated throughout the house, including many ceilings, most of the lighting, and two of the fireplaces. Some ceilings have exposed rafters to feel like porches. The walls are tongue-and-groove flushboard (beaded in the living room).

For Further Reading:

"A Cottage with Gothic Appeal," by Sandy Vitzthum
Old-House Interiors
 - July 2010

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© copyright Sandra Vitzthum all rights reserved | photography © copyright Carolyn Bates all rights reserved