The word “farmhouse” evokes the image of comfort, function, and simplicity, an aesthetic reflected in the design. However, farmhouses did not begin as style icons; they were born of necessity. Though they have evolved greatly over time, the basic farmhouse floor plan has remained very much the same – lending an Old World feel to new builds.
History of the Farmhouse
As early as the 1700s, farmers began building houses on their farms to increase productivity. By living and working on the same land, they eliminated travel time, and there was always someone around in case of emergency.
Each region had its own take on the farmhouse floor plan and materials. Climate, geography, landscape, and available materials all played roles in how each was developed. Architects were for the very wealthy, so designs were specific to the needs and functions of the farm family. They frequently employed mud, logs, and stones available on their property.
In the middle of the 19th century, railroads began to crisscross the country and farmers could have building materials delivered to rural areas. Lumber, bricks, and quarried stone replaced mud, logs, and stones to create farmhouses that more closely resemble what we see today. In the 1930s, the United States government connected farmhouses to the power grid, enabling the use of electricity and water pumps for indoor plumbing. By the following decade, nearly every farming family in the nation used electricity and would gather around radios at night to listen to news and entertainment.
The Modern Farmhouse Floor Plan
As prosperity increased for the American farmer, their homes grew, but much of the floor plan remained the same. Many farmhouses today are built near the lakes or rivers that would once have provided a family with water. Elements that are now hallmarks of the farmhouse floor plan emerged in the 1900s and never left.
Large covered porches, once used for storage or muddy clothes, are now beautiful entertainment areas with tables and rocking chairs. Most new farmhouse floor plans consider entertainment. The front of each house is the formal area. Large kitchens with plenty of workspace are at the back, along with stairs to second-floor bedrooms. An open feel is the principal component to any farmhouse floor plan. This concept was born of the need to heat an entire house with one fireplace. Even as these homes grew, their warm and friendly feel remained.
Symmetry is a consistent element in farmhouse design. When viewed from the front, windows and doors are divided evenly between the right and left. These tall windows are placed perfectly to maximize cross-breezes – a remnant from days before central air. The prevalence of wood in these designs is also left from days past. Wood siding, exposed beams, and rustic wooden furniture are all elements of the modern farmhouse. Even the smaller alterations like window shutters are wooden, to make that natural country feel really pronounced.
Firmly rooted in American heritage, the farmhouse floor plan has endured centuries of use. Though it has evolved, many elements have been consistent throughout the farmhouse’s history, making it highly recognizable and consistently sought after. McCoy Homes, of Chattanooga, can show how to incorporate a farmhouse-style floor plan in your custom home design. We will be happy to discuss all your questions; get in touch with us today.