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Style Watch

Taking sides

Farmhouse meets villa in this Vermont vacation home.

By Jaci Conry
April 17, 2011

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From the front, the home has all the characteristics of a traditional Vermont farmhouse: white clapboards, a porch with simple square posts, a steep gable roof, and some two-over-two double-hung windows. Head around back, though, and it has a distinctly different feel. Taking its cue from the architecture of neoclassical European villas, the style here is more formal, with grand French doors, some tall casement windows, and bracketed roof overhangs.

“The house is a collage of opposites,” says architect John Tittmann of Boston firm Albert, Righter & Tittmann, who designed the new home. “But each piece maintains its identity – like a good marriage.”

The homeowner has deep ties to the area and wanted the architecture of his vacation home in central Vermont to be in keeping with the region’s traditions, Tittmann says. “The house has that Vermonty feel. When you look at the front, it couldn’t be anywhere else but Vermont.”

At the same time, the homeowner, who also has ties to Europe, “wanted the house to have a broader sense of history and place,” so the opposite side of the structure is reminiscent of villas designed by 19th-century German architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel. Tittmann felt that including classical elements at the back of the house, which overlooks the Green Mountains, would add sophistication while respecting the relaxed composition in front.

The front facade is modest and the landscape natural, with few plantings. At the back of the house, the grounds are more formal, with raised garden beds and gabion walls made of stones contained within wire cages. For rustic appeal, a covered colonnade that connects the house to an iconic red barn features timber posts made out of locally milled cedar, left unfinished so that they will weather.

While the exterior of the home is a synthesis of two styles, the interior is wholly modern, fresh, and uncluttered. Rooms don’t have the usual moldings or details, materials are simple, and colors are subtle, with white being the dominant hue. “Everything is reduced to be finer and thinner than the exterior implies. It really creates a serene, quiet way of living,” says Tittmann. “It’s a very comfortable, easy-to-live-in house.”