Traditional Farmhouse Gets a Contemporary Makeover

Designer Joseph Stabilito gives a Pennsylvania farmhouse a fresh makeover that keeps the exterior true to its country roots while giving the interior a fresh, contemporary update.
Traditional White and Stone Farmhouse

Traditional White and Stone Farmhouse

Though contemporary on the inside, this home maintains a traditional farmhouse exterior. The Pennsylvania residence is gorgeous in white and stone with a pop of red on the cellar doors.

From: Joseph Stabilito

With the help of a homeowner who knew just what he wanted, designer Joseph Stabilito turned a beautiful but outdated farmhouse into a contemporary home that pays tribute to its country roots and is perfect for entertaining.

Describe the homeowner's wish list.

It was very important to the owner, who had grown up in this rural farming community (and where many of his family members continue to reside), to respect the local history and culture. The area is Mennonite and largely intact. These early settlers were mostly of German and Dutch descent and brought with them a fierce connectedness to the land and an overriding sense of modesty.

A major concern was that it needed to be a comfortable meeting place where he could invite his family for large gatherings. He knew that he wanted distinct areas for a pool and recreation and other areas for gardening, wine storage, etc. He wanted the kitchen to be a primary source of connection.

Farmhouse on the Outside, Contemporary Home on the Inside

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Farmhouse Roots

A traditional farmhouse on the outside, this Pennsylvania home is gorgeous in white and stone with a pop of red on the cellar doors.

From: Joseph Stabilito

Serenity Spa

Modern accessories and intricate gray tile work create a clean, calming atmosphere in this contemporary bathroom.

From: Joseph Stabilito

Heart of the Home

A mix of task and ambient lighting make cooking a breeze in this green farmhouse kitchen. The island is concrete, while the counter is made of beautiful honed black granite. The walnut stools were a souvenir the homeowner brought back from Italy. One of the best features in the kitchen is the stone hearth and pizza oven, the perfect component for a man who loves to entertain.

From: Joseph Stabilito

Most Important Meal of the Day

An L-shaped wooden bench provides plenty of room for guests to enjoy a snack in this quaint country breakfast nook.

From: Joseph Stabilito

Open Storage

His-and-hers sinks take advantage of this spacious bathroom layout, while smart storage is incorporated through the use of an open shelf beneath the counter.

From: Joseph Stabilito

Cozy by the Fire

A large double-sided stone fireplace opens to the main entrance and the family room, which is adorned in simple, contemporary furnishings. A walnut couch, stone coffee table and geometric area rug tie the room together.

From: Joseph Stabilito

Curl Up With a Book

A contemporary sitting area houses a metal side table that resembles a stump and a chair by the window – the perfect place to read. Task lighting makes it possible to continue reading late into the night.

From: Joseph Stabilito

Pleasant Surprise

In this master bathroom, a stone wall was first perceived as a problem since it didn't go with the overall sleek feel the designer was going for. In the end, however, the wall became the perfect spot for the vanity, and a lit seamless mirror was used to make the wall a focal point in the space.

From: Joseph Stabilito

Hang Up Your Hat

This large bathroom features plenty of wall hooks for bathrobes and towels. A cushioned bench coordinates nicely with the spacious soaking tub.

From: Joseph Stabilito

Only the Best

A roomy glass shower is home to modern appliances and beautiful tile.

From: Joseph Stabilito

Welcoming Entrance

A stone fireplace offers a warm welcome in the entryway, while a colorful rug gives off a cozy, inviting feel.

From: Joseph Stabilito

Sit Back and Relax

Charming lanterns from Holly Hunt line the entryway, and a bookshelf with padded seating placed on top was turned into a relaxing place to sit back, read a book and enjoy the warmth of the fire.

From: Joseph Stabilito

Comfy and Calm

Neutral but contrasting colors were used in the bedroom to maintain a simple, yet still interesting, vibe. Fuzzy pillows and plenty of blankets ensure this farmhouse bedroom is always nice and cozy.

From: Joseph Stabilito

Mixing Styles

A simple white dresser from Desiron was custom designed for the master bedroom. Sculptures showcasing natural elements in a modern design are the perfect representions of the transitional design style featured in this formerly traditional farmhouse.

From: Joseph Stabilito

Room for All

A light, open living room and a smart layout that fascilitates conversation is a great place to relax or entertain.

From: Joseph Stabilito

What was the biggest issue the design addressed?

The owner was very thoughtful and, in a sense, had done a lot of the homework for me. He had spent much time thinking about how he wanted to live in the house and what lifestyle he was seeking. Overall, he wanted a modern lifestyle with the ease of new amenities but in the context of an older home. As the designer, my role was to blend these concepts together. It was about the delicate balance of bringing in some of that contemporary esthetic without tarnishing the original heritage.

Describe an obstacle in the space.

There were a few technical challenges in the integration of the older and newly constructed extensions of the house, such as merging the older stone walls into the new structures. But for those concerns, the architect on board addressed the issues.

How we would handle the visual juxtapositions was another concern. For instance, there was a question of how to handle a protruding stone wall in what would become the master bath (which called for a sleek design). I decided the texture was too beautiful to cover over and was sure its rustic quality would enhance, rather than dilute, the look. So, we placed the vanity against it, and I used a large seamless mirror that was lit at the sides to highlight the background.

How did the end result match your original vision?

I’d have to say, despite some technical issues, the vision pretty much stayed constant. The end result was very close to what the client envisioned, and I was proud to deliver.

I know that the owner is thrilled with his home and has had many family holidays and gatherings together. The pool and spa areas on the property provide wonderful recreation and relief from the hot summers. The grounds are beautifully landscaped with fruit trees, a vegetable garden and a creek that runs through the property.

What lessons did you learn from this project?

Lighting for me is always an important part of a design plan, and it is often not considered well. Tucking light into small crevices, behind mirrors, under cornice moldings, and the like can highlight the architectural features, make them stand out and heighten their importance. I used subtle lighting everywhere on this project (and always on dimmers) for a variety of moods.

Of course the attention to detail, in doing the proper research, in investigating the theme or influence you are striving for, is always essential. As a designer, I’ve learned to trust my intuitive sense and go with it. (I may not always understand why I am drawn to something in particular, but I do trust it will come together and make sense in the final product). You start with a basic premise, you expand on it, you tweak it, and you adapt it to the exact needs for the situation.

In the end, it’s like any creative endeavor: a constant monitoring of shape, color, texture and composition. What requires a little diffusing in this corner might need to be a little bolder there, or what’s overkill in this context might seem weak in another. You must be aware of how every decision affects the following one. It takes a fair amount of time to develop these instincts, for which you can only expect to get better as you continue to do more.

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Joseph Stabilito

Contact Me
Joseph Stabilito Interior Design, Inc. ASID 10 Bleecker St. New York, NY 10012 212-358-0580