Barrington Farm House
The Fred E. Church House in Barrington, RI, was originally built in 1888 as a 1-1/2 story clapboard cottage featuring unique exterior detailing of the area’s bracketed style. Though not on the National Historic Register, the farmhouse borders an historic district and is reflective of the small-scale, rural homes of its period. The house had deteriorated from neglect, making the option to start over with a new, larger structure a temptation, especially given the large lot. However, the owners recognized that this distinct house was worthy of protection and committed themselves as its stewards.
The exterior integrity was a priority limiting the renovation primarily to an interior alteration with only some exterior modifications as required for code and access. The small scale footprint needed to feel “big and open” without sacrificing the period character. In return for their investment, they asked for the house to be updated to current standards as much as possible. Previous interior spaces that were missing modern amenities and conveniences were to be re-furbished. Spaces that lacked flow and function should be amended in order to be conducive to modern family life. The expansive lawn area that the property boasted needed a better connection to the interior of the home. Storage, nonexistent due to an inaccessible shallow basement, needed to be resolved.
Finding the balance between historic preservation and modern living essentials can be challenging. The design provided spatial modifications for a more livable home while keeping with original vernacular through detailing and scale. The lace baluster profiles were re-produced for the front porch, and even repeated as part of the new rear deck. Original interior stair parts were respectfully modified in proportion, profile and spacing in order to achieve modern code requirements. The front door was reproduced, but with modern weather-stripping and thermal advantages. A new fireplace location was introduced towards the front of the house opposite the entry stair hall creating a formal “public” side to the house. The kitchen could then be opened up to the heart of the home, creating an informal “private” realm for the family to enjoy daily living. Eliminating the back stair afforded more opportunity for utility/service spaces, and a much needed powder room for the first floor was incorporated into the plan. Doorways were relocated to afford better furnishing ability. An attic access stair solved storage needs. A new bathroom and Master suite were created affording separate realms for parents and for kids. The rear porch was eliminated and a new deck installed at the southern side connecting the house to the patio and expansive yard. This also created a more direct route to the barn, also restored to provide additional storage.