DESIGN & ARCHITECTURE
A contemporary farmhouse that celebrates the rural mountain views while incorporating luxurious simplicity
Interior Design: Solis Betancourt & Sherrill
Architect: Carter + Burton Architecture
Landscape Architect: Arentz Landscape Architects
Builder: Horizon Builders
At this contemporary 155-acre estate in Virginia’s Clarke County, the design intent is visible as soon as you walk in the front door. The doorway is intentionally centered on a prominent vista in the Shenandoah Mountains, so when guests enter the house, it is this pristine mountain view that greets them and pulls them inside.
In addition to careful siting, simplicity and a respect for the local architectural style served as the guiding design inspirations for this project. The husband and wife owners had purchased the idyllic property where a two-hundred-year-old house and farm once stood, and they wanted to honor the vernacular of the area when building their dream retirement home. The couple assembled a top-notch design team - Page Carter of Carter + Burton Architecture, Jose Solis Betancourt and Paul Sherrill of interior design firm Solis Betancourt & Sherrill, and Richard Arentz of Arentz Landscape Architects--to create a modern farmhouse that would take full advantage of the glorious surrounding views of the Shenandoah Mountains.
A picture of a restored convent in Southern France served as a starting point. The plain façade and repeating window openings had an elegant simplicity that worked seamlessly with the local aesthetic of the rectangular farmhouses scattered throughout the county. The house was laid out on an east-west axis to celebrate the panoramic views of fields and mountains and maximize the morning light streaming into the most popular rooms of the house, the kitchen, breakfast area, and family room and, upstairs, the primary suite.
For Washington DC-based designers Jose Solis Betancourt and Paul Sherrill, the goal with the interiors was to not compete with the scenery outside but rather to let those views take center stage. Solis notes that “The clients previously had a very traditional home, and they wanted to move towards clean lines for a more timeless look.” The designers chose furniture with low profiles and kept the subtly layered fabrics neutral. Sherrill says, “We used a palette of whites, ivories, and creams to keep the mood airy and light, but we also included a lot of texture. Chenilles, linens, and velvets keep the look very tactile and less formal.”
Throughout the interiors, Sherrill and Solis Betancourt used sophisticated finishes to evoke the essence of a modern farmhouse. “There’s an honesty to the materials, a simplicity that lends itself well to a country retreat,” says Solis. Wood finishes – such as the floorboards and wall planks- were sourced in part from walnut trees cleared from the property. The windows are unpainted sapele. Oil rubbed bronze fixtures, and window treatment rods add a rustic touch.
The clients had an appreciation for quality and wanted the best craftsmanship. The goal was to have understated luxury with maximal comfort for ease of entertaining amongst friends and family. A window seat flanked by cupboards in the entry hall is the perfect spot for taking off rain boots. The area is further defined by portiere draperies which soften the opening to the adjoining living room. An atrium acts as a modern interpretation of a greenhouse with comfortable seating to contemplate the ever-changing view. The open kitchen, designed with Poliform Sagart Studio, features two spacious islands, one for dining and another for cooking. Lower cabinets were maximized for storage since upper cabinets would have blocked the view.
The dining room best sums up the delicate balance between simplicity and elegance. The wood-paneled walls and bare floors give a nod to the farmhouse aesthetic, while ripple fold draperies and the bronze chandelier with crystal drops embellish the room. Sherrill says, “There’s definitely a formality to the room, but it feels appropriate. You don’t feel like you are on Park Avenue. The interiors are ready for elegant entertaining, but in a country setting that feels gracious and inviting”.