Trumbauer Awards

Period Architecture accepted two design awards at the 2022 Trumbauer Awards presented by the Philadelphia Chapter of Institute of Classical Architecture & Art. Accepting the awards on behalf of the firm was Principal, Joseph Mackin, on Thursday, November 3rd at the Union League of Philadelphia. The firm was awarded the top honors in New Residential Architecture Over 5,000 Square Feet for Hilltop Residence and New Residential Architecture Under 5,000 Square Feet for Chimney Hill Residence.

“It is an immense honor to be recognized by the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art for one home, let alone two,” stated Joseph Mackin. “The Trumbauer Awards are one of the highest distinctions for traditional design in our region and we are humbled by these commendations.”

Hilltop Residence in Greenville, Delaware, evokes the expression of an 18th-century, Pennsylvania farmhouse that has developed over time. “When we asked the homeowners their design goals for this home, they simply requested a home primed for a visit from George Washington himself,” Principal Jeffrey Dolan explained. Traditional details are found throughout the exterior and interior spaces with special care in designing period millwork and the incorporation of reclaimed materials. The judges remarked, “This design showed restraint. Sometimes it’s not what we put in, but what we leave out which makes for an award-winning design.”

Inspired by Colonial Williamsburg, Chimney Hill Residence sits atop a hill next to a well-traveled road leading to the historic borough of West Chester, Pennsylvania. “With such a prominent location, we were given the unique opportunity to create two frontages for this home,” says Mackin. The Dutch-Colonial style features one formal frontage with an “original,” center hall, five-bay mass, and one informal family frontage with a private courtyard and gardens. “It is the detailing and the massing that gives this period house it’s character,” the judges noted.

The Biennial Trumbauer Awards honor exemplary design that preserves and advances the classical tradition. Named for internationally renowned architect, and Philadelphia native, Horace Trumbauer, these awards recognize contemporary projects that express the breadth and inclusiveness present in his work. This year’s awards were open to the members from the Philadelphia, Ohio & Lake Erie chapters of the ICAA with submissions from Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio, New Jersey, New York, Delaware and Maryland.

How to Make Your Outdoor Living Space Feel like a Vacation

As the temperatures continue to rise, outdoor living spaces become key to true summertime enjoyment. While you soak up the sunshine, think ahead to next summer and how you may be able to better utilize your outdoor oasis. After all, a yard is a special place of refuge and we believe you deserve to enjoy it in style and comfort.

Whether you’re looking to build a new house or create an addition to your existing one, these outdoor living ideas will undoubtedly increase your enjoyment of your home. In fact, these upgrades may have you feeling like you’re living in a luxury hotel—just without the room service.

Covered Porches

Imagine throwing open your doors and, with a steaming mug of coffee in hand, lounging on your covered porch while enjoying fresh air, birdsong, or the comforting hush of summer rain. This is the beauty of a covered porch. It seamlessly connects the interior of your home with its outside surroundings and does so while providing protection against damaging UV rays or inclement weather. And, for those who like to host parties, these types of porches also enhance a guest’s experience because they can easily transition from the inside space to the outside one without having to worry about the weather.

A tip from our team: If you’re building a covered porch as an addition to your home, it is imperative that it’s design transitions smoothly from the original building.

This covered porch, designed for a homeowner in Westover Hills, Delaware, provides an uninterrupted experience with the backyard. For added comfort, we included retractable screens to help keep the space bug-free in the summertime.

Pools

If you ask a child, the advantages of a backyard pool are obvious: pool parties and playtime that lasts all day in the summer. However, having a pool in your backyard comes with other benefits as well.

From a design perspective, a pool provides an easy and beautiful addition to the yard from which to build around. But its impact on health is even more valuable than its design function. Several research studies have found that the presence of water in architectural design can improve concentration and memory and decrease heart rate, blood pressure, and rates of stress. In addition, a pool is a great-low impact exercise for just about everyone. We can’t think of a better way to help you feel like you’re relaxing in the lap of luxury than by floating in your own Caribbean blue-colored pool.

A tip from our team: Before designing a pool, consider how you want to use your backyard space in its entirety. This will help inform the size, location, orientation, and design of the pool itself as well as the design of the surrounding areas.

The design of this Key Largo, Florida, home was inspired both by its tropical Floridian surroundings as well as the British West Indies architectural style.

Entertainment Barns

Luke Brian and Jason Aldean both have something in common aside from being A-list country crooners: they also have stunning entertainment barns on their properties. For people like these singers who are big on hosting guests, an entertainment barn allows them to put some space between their guests and the sanctity of their living spaces.

And, despite the name, an entertainment barn has many uses outside of being a private event venue. They can also be used as an overnight guest house, a detached office space, a workshop, a game room for adults, a playroom for kids, a “classroom” space for artists and creatives, or a place to host parent meetings, book clubs, or garden parties. However you intend to use it, an entertainment barn is the ultimate private luxury retreat that you’ll never have to travel to.

A tip from our team: When building an entertainment barn, you will want to work with an architect who will be able to connect it to the rest of your property in a cohesive and natural way. The best way to do this is to select certain styles from the private areas of your home to incorporate in your entertainment barn. To learn more about our tips on barn design, visit The Art of the Barn.

When designing a new residence in West Chester, Pennsylvania, we were asked to include a separate space for hosting events. The end result was this cozy entertainment barn.

Bring The Vacation to You

It is important to remember that your home living space isn’t confined to what’s between the front and back doors. Your outside living space should feel as inviting and comfortable as your living room. So, whether you choose one of these options or all three, we have no doubt you will revel in the added luxury of your home as you lounge in your new outdoor space.

Design Spotlight: The Classic Pennsylvania Farmhouse

There is something magical about walking into a traditional Pennsylvania farmhouse home. The sandstone and granite walls feel solid and expansive. They stand like broad-shouldered guards defending against not just the cold but also the ills of the world. The inviting and gently winding central staircase unfolds with delightful secrecy into the warm depths of the home. Elaborate strap hinges and beading around the windows hint at simpler times when everything was handmade with dedicated precision by expert craftsmen. And, of course, each etch in the warn wooden flooring speaks of decades of lives lived and unknowable stories of the past.

It’s hard to experience a home like this and not get carried away by its charm. Frequently, homeowners who grew up in this kind of home come to us wanting to carry on that tradition into their own growing families. Others have simply fallen in love from a distance. Regardless of their personal histories with these homes, the masterful architect behind this style, Richardson Brognard Okie, is so infrequently talked about that few homeowners know anything about him or understand the intricacy of his work.

This lack of understanding means homeowners are not able to identify what parts of this style they want to capture in their own new homes. Since many homeowners come to us wanting to design in this colonial revival style, we are going to explore Okie’s history and architectural signatures so that you can better acquaint yourself with the craftsmanship and detailing of his homes. Doing so will likely give you deeper insight into how to approach the design of your new colonial revival home.

A BRIEF HISTORY OF R. BROGNARD OKIE

Richardson Brognard Okie (1875-1945) was known as an architectural artist and master builder. Colleagues praised his work saying it epitomized the American way of life because his buildings were of the highest quality — a result of his unrelenting desire for perfection — and yet were still modest and unassuming.

Born and raised in Camden, New Jersey, he moved to Philadelphia after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania in 1897 with a degree in architecture. Okie had always had a close connection to the countryside and, after his move to Pennsylvania, this seems to have translated into a deep appreciation of the region’s copious farmhouses.

Early in his career, Okie was known to travel around the Pennsylvania countryside hunting for early Dutch buildings with his son in tow and a ruler in hand. When he found a particularly distinctive structure, Okie would pore over every detail of it, measuring everything he could and collecting castoff hardware. This is how he became fluent in the language of these iconic homes.

Okie’s fluency in Pennsylvania farmhouses eventually paid off spectacularly. Some of his more notable clients included the Pew family, the DuPont family, the former Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, Owen J. Roberts, and the former United States Attorney General, Philander C. Knox. He was also commissioned to restore Betsy Ross’ house and William Penn’s country home, Pennsbury Manor.

Overfields Farm is a c. 1912 Berwyn home that benefitted from a addition and renovation designed by R. Brognard Okie in 1927. It is currently undergoing a complete restoration and renovation by Period Architecture.

HOW TO SPOT AN OKIE HOUSE

Due to his thoughtful designs, there are signature details in Okie’s colonial revival homes that make his buildings easy to identify. “Okie is unique in that he created his own architectural vocabulary that, from the naked eye, looks very simple,” says Period Architecture’s associate principal architect, Patrick McDonough. “But, when you study his drawings and details, you get a better appreciation of just how much time and ingenuity he put into his houses.”

Stepping inside an Okie home is where you will be able to spot the most unique elements of his designs. Pay attention to the millwork, mantelpieces, and staircases. Okie infused these three elements, in particular, with his own signature style.

MILLWORK

Okie had fun with the millwork in his homes and used these details everywhere. Look closely and you’ll notice: intricate beading on window shutters, door frames, walls, cabinets, and even stair banisters; distinctive semicircular doorstops behind every door; and creative zig-zagging woodwork holding up bookcase shelves known as saw-tooth shelving. The beading, in particular, is something that makes Patrick chuckle. “If you speak to any millworker today who’s working on an Okie house, they will complain about the beads. Okie put beads on everything. He is notorious for putting single beads, double beads, and sometimes even triple beads in his homes,” he says.

From the rattail hinges to the sawtooth adjustable bookshelf railing, the millwork throughout the Standfast Residence showcases the playful spirit found in Okie homes.

MANTELPIECES

Many of the mantelpieces in Okie’s homes were inspired by the historic mansions in Germantown, PA. You’ll notice that he uses bolection molding and a decorative design technique called punch and gauge to intricately decorate his mantelpieces.

The Parlor Room of the Berwyn Residence features a detailed molding mantelpiece. This was one of the more ornate styles Brognard Okie utilized when designing fireplace mantels.

STAIRCASES

The staircases are the heart of every Okie home. “He used staircases almost like hallways,” Patrick explains. Most modern houses use a staircase to simply get someone from one floor to the next but, in an Okie home, the staircase strategically and seamlessly connects every section of the house. This means the main staircase will likely bring you to a half floor, servant’s wing, balcony, and second-floor landing all in a short distance.

Welcoming, yet refined, this Chester County Farmhouse staircase carries a rustic simplicity to it’s design while remaining a centerpiece to the home.

Of course, Okie’s attention to detail doesn’t stop with the interior of the house. The exteriors of his homes also have classic signatures from unique shutters and fieldstone walls to precisely scaled porches and dormers. In addition, Okie was also consistent in the orientation, nestling, scale, and form of his homes. While these elements are not unique to him, paired with the interior and exterior elements outlined above they can become an excellent indication of whether you are in the presence of an Okie home.

ORIENTATION

A mark of a good architect is a conscious understanding of the best orientation of a building. Designing a house to get the best southern exposure not only gives it the best views and ventilation but also allows warm sunlight to enter the house for most of the year. Okie had an innate understanding of orientation. Most of his homes have large, southern-facing double-hung windows and Dutch doors to maximize the amount of sunlight and air entering the house. He would also align all the doors inside the home so that, when windows were open in the summertime, fresh air could filter through and cool the entire home.

The Dutch door in this Berwyn Residence brings a farmhouse detail while aiding in natural circulation throughout the first floor of the home.

NESTLING

Positioning a house at a high elevation point to get good views is a modern concept. Well before Okie’s time, home builders would build at lower elevations and try to embed their homes into the land to get the most protection from harsh weather conditions. Okie embraced this practice and did so with amazing ingenuity. He would nestle a home into the side of a hill in a way that managed to protect the home while still delivering beautiful views. It was this nestling technique, and the variety of elevational changes it caused, that forced Okie to engineer his unique staircases.

Nestled among mature landscaping, the Unionville Residence is protected from the elements, while taking advantage of the bucolic views from every corner of the home.

SCALE AND FORM

Okie had no interest in creating hulking mansions. Instead, he would create spacious, overlapping wings that unfolded into the landscape. Each wing was designed in a slightly different way so that the entire home looked like it had evolved over time.

While brand new construction, the Unionville Residence appears to have grown over time with two wings on either side of the main stone structure. This is the technique Okie utilized to create a sense of maturing over time even though being built from scratch.

HOW OKIE INFLUENCES OUR WORK TODAY

Okie never just recreated an old farmhouse. He studied the past and then infused it with his own creativity to make a unique design.

It’s in this way that Okie influences our firm’s work the most. Today’s residential styles have evolved drastically since Okie’s time, so when a homeowner asks us for an Okie-style house we need to find novel ways to blend historic farmhouse charm with the more modern living styles of our era. This means we, too, never just recreate a historic house. What we do is transform serpentine back hallways into more open living areas, rework staff quarters into cozy guest bedroom suites, and creatively hide modern elements behind old-world design. In other words, we are using history as inspiration and adding our own twist to create something new, unique, and tailored for each client.

In a word, Okie’s biggest focus was always on simplicity. He wanted each of his homes to have a vernacular feel. And this is yet another of the many ways he has influenced our work. We’ll let you in on an architectural secret: things that look simple are usually inordinately complex to design and build. Yet we understand and share Okie’s dedication to aesthetic simplicity, and commit ourselves to it for every project we touch.

Long before we started our firm in 2010, we each had a deep appreciation for Okie’s work. His dedication to detail and cohesion has been — and continues to be — a major source of inspiration to each of us in how we approach our designs. Now that you, too, have a better understanding of Okie’s work, we hope you’ll feel empowered to embrace your new home project with confidence.

fieldstone home in horsham near talamore country club

OKIE HOMES ADAPTED FOR TODAY

If you’d like to see our Okie work in action, take a look at the homes listed here. This list includes a mix of original Okie homes that we delicately modernized for the needs of today’s families and homes that we designed from scratch in the Okie style.

The Art of the Barn

While Pennsylvania’s cities might be known for many things — cheesesteaks, Hall and Oates, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, and a lovable, googly-eyed, orange mascot among them — it’s countryside is associated with one thing above all others: it’s multitude of old, charming barns. So, it’s understandable that many homeowners come to us for guidance on what to do with an old barn sitting on their property or how to design a new one that looks like it’s always been there.

With the help of our project architects and resident barn experts, Brad Kline and Doug Mancuso, we are going to give you a brief introduction to the art of the barn and explain how to design a barn that fits your equestrian, agrarian or entertainment needs.

HORSE BARNS

“The design for horse barns is very modular, which forces a kind of rigidity in the design,” Doug says. The interior layout, in particular, will be determined by three things: the quantity and size of the stalls, the width of the center aisle, and the types of additional amenities like wash stalls and tack rooms. Unless a homeowner has a unique aisle size in mind, they are generally 16 feet wide. The stalls themselves usually measure 12 feet by 12 feet for a single horse and 14 feet by 14 feet for a mare and foal.

From there, “choices need to be made about details that will ensure horse safety and comfort,” says Brad. For example, a lot of times we’re asked to include metal angles on top of the stall partitions, to prevent horses from chewing on them, or use rubber pavers inside the barn, which provides more support to horses’ delicate legs and hooves than brick or concrete flooring.

Our focus for this new bank barn in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania was to create a beautiful but practical barn that prioritized the horses’ safety without sacrificing quality in the design.

No matter what an owner needs in their barn, our mission is to deliver a beautifully practical structure. “We keep the large details like the timber frame, stall doors, offices, and tack rooms well-crafted while ensuring every detail is functional for everyday use,” says Doug.

This 16,800 square-foot, two-story, timber-framed event center in Nappanee, Indiana was designed to accommodate a wide range of event styles from wedding receptions, community gatherings, business banquets, product shows, family reunions, and more.

EVENT BARNS

When we take stalls out of the equation, the design possibilities for a structure become limitless. When it comes to designing commercial event barns, our goal is to find a balance between creating large, open spaces while making sure it still feels warm and inviting.

When thinking about creating an event barn, the two questions you need to ask yourself are: how many people do you want to be able to fit inside, and what types of events do you want to host in the space? Much of the design will stem from the answer to these questions.

“A great example of a recent event barn that we designed is Sammlung Platz,” says Brad. “The owner wanted to utilize it for corporate meetings, wedding events, and as a community center. So we created a global design to suit all their needs.”

However you decide to utilize your event barn, many of these types of spaces will require larger mechanical HVAC systems, a multitude of bathrooms, and possibly elevators and commercial kitchens. While this might sound like a lot to keep in mind, these are all considerations we will guide you through before starting the design process for your project.

ENTERTAINMENT BARNS

Because we are based in Pennsylvania, many of our clients have old barns original to their property that they’d like to make better use of. Transforming these charming buildings from their original farm-oriented design to an entertainment barn allows homeowners to have a separate space to host guests in a variety of ways. “It’s a space where holidays happen, where you host your dinner parties. It’s an extension of the home,” Doug says.

The key to a successful entertainment barn is scale and proportion. “They are not meant to be grand spaces, they’re meant to be intimate,” says Brad. A typical size for an entertainment barn is three bays, or about 30 feet by 48 feet, which allows it to comfortably accommodate multiple seating groups. “Our focus is on not making them so big that they feel lonely. We want you to be able to use it even when you’re just a family of two or four,” says Doug.

This 1873 dairy barn in Chester Springs, Pennsylvania was used as a storage space for several years, but eventually the homeowners wanted to give it a breath of new life and purpose as an entertainment barn. We helped them reimagine this building so that it could once again be full life. It now includes a driving range, putting green, guest suite, full-service kitchen, commercial-grade bar, and ample, spacious seating areas.

Entertainment barns give you the most freedom to have fun with the design. Here are some ways that entertainment barns have been used in the past:

  • Overnight guesthouse
  • Detached office space
  • Workshop
  • Game room for adults
  • Playrooms for kids
  • “Classroom” space for artists and creatives
  • A place to host parent meetings, book clubs, or garden parties.

Understanding how a homeowner wants to use their space is integral to our architectural process because we design with your needs and dreams in mind. One of the first things we’ll do is explore your ideas and guide you through your options so that we can make a space that is tailored specifically to you.

TAKE THE NEXT STEP IN BUILDING YOUR BARN

When it comes to barn design, the believability of the structure is always our main focus. We accomplish this by continually looking to history to see how barns were originally designed. Then, we use history to inspire our own design process down to the smallest details. Building in a believable way, rooted in history, is how we successfully create unique buildings that are tailored to their homeowners but still exude a feeling of instant old.

When done well, a barn has the power to transcend time. And when people walk into our barns, their nostalgia recognizes all of the authentic details and they allow their imaginations, if only for a moment, to transport them to another world.

Kitchen design with hosting in mind

After each gathering, you may notice the kitchen is inevitably where most people end up during parties. While you may appreciate the company, if you’re a frequent host you know a kitchen that is not designed for hosting means you’re tripping over your best friend with a blazingly hot tray right out of the oven or almost slicing a crocheted flower right off grandma’s new sweater as you try to squeeze your cutting board onto an already cramped counter.

Hosting doesn’t always have to be a Tetris game of cramped spaces and close calls. If a kitchen is designed with hosting in mind, you can transform your hosting experience into one that has enough room to invite loved ones to comfortably pull up a chair while you work your hosting magic. Here are six ideas to consider if you’re looking to upgrade your kitchen space and your own hosting experience.

For extra counter space

Counter space is the critical factor when it comes to being able to host comfortably. One way to provide more counter space is by incorporating a kitchen island — or two. Kitchen islands give you the space to spread out and get organized which will make prepping, serving, and dining a breeze. And islands don’t just give you and your food space, it also gives your guests somewhere to sit comfortably, and safely, out of the way.

For a homeowner in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, a double-island in the kitchen was critical for keeping Kosher and non-Kosher food preparation separate. Having two kitchen islands also allows them to use their front island for serving and entertaining and their back island for prepping and cooking.

Traditionally, a butler’s pantry was used to store fine china, silver, linens, and family heirlooms. Now, in more recent times, butler’s pantries are not only used for this kind of valuable storage space but also as a particularly useful area while entertaining guests. Butler’s pantries, as well as wet bars, free critical kitchen counter space and are also the perfect area to stage a buffet or drink station that will keep guests from wandering into the kitchen.

Packed with storage space, we designed this butler’s pantry for a homeowner in Greenwich, Connecticut who wanted to create a natural flow between their kitchen and entertaining spaces.

TO HIDE THE MESS

A delicious meal has its own kind of magic and, sometimes, seeing the mess and stress that comes with preparing the meal diminishes it. Afterall, there’s a reason why you don’t see the kitchen in most upscale restaurants. If you’re looking to replicate a fine dining experience at home, then an auxiliary kitchen may help you create just the right ambiance. An auxiliary kitchen tucks the real mess around the corner from the party so you can host in your spotless main kitchen. And, when using caterers, an auxiliary kitchen allows them to work out of sight and keep guests’ imaginations going.

Tucked away from the main entertaining area, this auxiliary kitchen was designed for a Greenville, Delaware homeowner who didn’t want the mess of cooking to distract from their events.

Another way to conceal cooking messes and preserve the magic of a meal is with a pantry. While a pantry is conventionally used to add much needed storage near the kitchen, it can also be used to hide bulky appliances like ovens, microwaves, and dishwashers. When you need to tuck a mess out of sight, contain cooking odors, or separate these spaces, all you have to do is close the door.

The discreet pocket door to this pantry separates the kitchen workspace from the rest of the kitchen in this Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania home

FOR ADDED COMFOR AND CHARM

A kitchen fireplace was traditionally where you’d find pots filled with bubbling stews and soups, meat slowly roasting on a spit, and bake kettles covered in hot coal and slowly baking an assortment of cookies, cakes, and breads. While modern appliances allow us to prepare our food much more easily, having a fireplace in the kitchen is still a charming reminder of history that will make any guest feel at home.

The large kitchen fireplace in this Marshallton, Pennsylvania residence creates a cozy atmosphere and charming reminder of a time when food was cooked over a fire.

When you are hosting a small number of guests, the kitchen can be an excellent entertaining space. All you need is a soft seating area that will help set a welcoming and intimate tone. Whether you choose soft chairs or a padded breakfast nook, these touches add a layer of warmth that will envelop your guests like a comforting hug. The added benefit of hosting in the kitchen is that it is usually one of the brightest rooms in the house with lots of windows and wonderful views.

The deep cushions of this breakfast nook create an intimate meeting nook with a beautiful view over a vineyard in this Marshallton, Pennsylvania home.

GOOD KITCHEN DESIGN GIVES YOU PEACE OF MIND

While there is a certain amount of pressure that goes with hosting an event, you deserve to enjoy the experience just as much as your guests. And in order to comfortably enjoy hosting in your home, your kitchen needs to be designed accordingly. Adding even just one of these ideas to your kitchen can elevate your hosting abilities to a whole new level — and allow you to enjoy every moment of it.

Grand Opening in Doylestown

In April of 2021, Period Architectureproudly announced the opening of a second office location in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. With commissions in Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey and throughout the eastern seaboard, Period Architecture has remained a committed steward of the landscape and vernacular architecture since its founding in 2010. 

“Bucks County is a treasure of Pennsylvania. With a flourishing portfolio in Bucks County and the surrounding areas, it only made sense to open a second location in Doylestown, the heart of the region,” said Co-Founder and President Joseph Mackin.

Specializing in new homes, additions, renovations, barns, and buildings with enduring designs tailored to each distinct client, Period Architecture has grown from a three-person practice into an award-winning architectural firm with residential and commercial commissions along the east coast and beyond.

“Doylestown and the surrounding region of Bucks County has such a rich history and incredible community environment. We’re excited to begin our story here and look forward to engaging directly with local partners, craftsmen, and clients in the area,” says Co-Founder and Vice-President Jeffrey Dolan.

Located at 22 S. Main Street in historic downtown Doylestown, Period Architecture’s new office officially opened April 1st.

Contemporary Farmhouse Living Inspired by the Past

Nestled amidst rolling hills, babbling creeks, and a quilted tapestry of verdant farmland just west of Philadelphia sits Chester County, Pennsylvania, site of the American Revolutionary War’s Battle of Brandywine and the Valley Forge encampment. It’s an area that still boasts many 18th-century buildings and farmhouses that provide a look into the lifestyle and architectural vernacular of the country’s earliest days. 


Often that vernacular takes the shape of the American farmhouse. Designed to accommodate a lifestyle focused on putting down roots—both figuratively and literally—the farmhouse is utilitarian yet aesthetically pleasing, spacious yet cozy, classic yet endlessly fresh, and built to last while changing with the seasons.

It’s here in Greater Philadelphia that Period Architecture has dedicated itself to uniting architectural traditions of the past with contemporary lifestyles and technology. Throughout its decades of building and renovating period homes across the eastern U.S., several patterns have emerged as a roadmap for capturing the essence of farmhouse style. These six principles are the foundation upon which any home—old or new—can foster a timeless, authentic farmhouse aesthetic that takes its cue from history while rising to the demands of modern living.

PRINCIPLE ONE:  A SENSE OF PLACE AND HISTORY 

Authenticity is central to the farmhouse aesthetic. Every detail is carefully considered to ensure that it feels appropriate to the home’s history, environment, community, climate, and architectural language. It’s why Period architects look to precedent to inspire similar functionality and charm that apply today. First, the American farmhouse is intricately tied to its geographic region. A new farmhouse, much like its historic predecessors, should feel born from and carved into its surroundings to complement, rather than overwhelm, the landscape. One of the ways Period Architecture accomplishes this is by preserving as many of a property’s mature trees as possible. It’s also important to consider the harmony of the home and land as a whole. Take into consideration, for example, the curve of the drive as you enter the property; the angle at which you happen upon a small, stone spring house; or the relationship between a rustic barn looming in the distance and the grand main house.  

Establishing a sense of time is also key to authenticity. A farmhouse should tell a story by creating the impression that it was built in phases over time; historically, as a farming family succeeded and grew, their house grew too. Other methods for instilling history into a newer farmhouse are to use archetypal features like a farmhouse sink in period-inspired kitchens and bathrooms; use deep windowsills and interior walls to create the illusion of the thick, solid stone walls of yesteryear; select historically inspired paint colors; incorporate raised-panel and carriage-house-style doors; and incorporate natural materials indicative of the area and period in which the home might have been constructed.

PRINCIPLE TWO: ORGANIC AND SALVAGED MATERIALS 

Before cross-country transport of materials started in the mid-19th century, people lived strictly off the land and repurposed as often as possible. Today, organic and salvaged materials serve a three-pronged purpose: to give a nod to the past; create instant warmth, character, and charm; and honor the environment through reuse. Consider the following organic and salvaged materials for your farmhouse:

Stone and brick. Farmers of the past harvested stone from their fields to use as a sturdy and inexpensive building material. In modern farmhouses, locally harvested or salvaged stone and brick is used for facades, fireplaces, floors, cornices, and quoin (large cornerstones classic in stone homes).


Wood. With trees aplenty, farmers once cut lumber from their property and hand hewed beams to provide structure to their homes. Wooden boards and beams reclaimed from old barns make regular appearances in the homes Period builds in the form of furniture, millwork, cabinetry, siding, floors, roofing, and more. 

Iron. Used most often for hardware—think strap and latch hinges, box locks, and shutter hardware—as well as lighting, there are still many companies and artisans that hand-forge their ironware using the time-tested methods of days past.

PRINCIPLE THREE: MILLWORK AND ARCHITECTURAL DETAILS 

In the days before modern machinery, every detail of a home was crafted by hand. The time, money, and skill it required to accent a house with decorative millwork and other architectural details showcased the wealth and success of the homeowner. Today, classic styles of decorative millwork in kitchens and bathrooms, on staircases and balusters, and in the form of casing, trim, cornices, and other interior and exterior detailing harken back to those days. Dormers and porches are also staples of early farmhouse style. Traditionally, porches were purely practical spaces created to keep the interior of the home clean, where muddy boots and soiled clothing from long hours working in the fields could be removed before heading inside. Dormers also once served a utilitarian purpose—to increase usable space, sunlight, and air circulation in the steep-roofed top floor of a home.

PRINCIPLE FOUR: INDOOR-OUTDOOR LIVING

Perhaps the most endearing aspect of farmhouse living is the nostalgia it inspires for a time when life was lived in close connection with nature, rather than technology. When siting a Period Architecture home, they pay close attention to environmental factors such as how they can utilize southern exposure to create sun-drenched spaces and the way the wind travels across a property. The Dutch door, for example, originally designed to let refreshing breezes in while keeping farm critters out, is very much still a celebrated feature of today’s farmhouses, both for its aesthetic value and its role as a bridge between the inside and outside. Similarly, open and covered porches, verandas, gardens, and outdoor fireplaces enhance and extend the amount of time one can spend enjoying the fresh air.

PRINCIPLE FIVE: UNITY OF OLD AND NEW

Historic appreciation and reproduction takes the best of the past and makes it work for today’s world. Shutters, for example, which were once used to protect windows and provide security on the first floor (solid or paneled) and ventilation on the second floor (louvered), are mostly decorative features today. Modern composite “woods” have similarly replaced some natural woods in today’s farmhouses, as they lend a comparable look and warmth but are longer lasting, lower maintenance, and rot- and bug-resistant. And where the fireplace was once the chief home-heating element, there are now central and geothermal heating and cooling systems. Combined with energy-efficient windows, insulation, and state-of-the-art home automation technology, modern homes can bring the best of new advances to the farms of yesteryear. 

PRINCIPLE SIX: FAMILY-FOCUSED COMFORT AND LIVABILITY 

The most alluring feature of the farmhouse is also the most fundamental: its inherent comfort, livability, and family-centered appeal. Period modifies and maximize traditional layouts to accommodate modern family living by reworking servant quarters and kitchens into functional mudrooms; modifying traditional center halls and closed kitchens to create convenient, open floor plans; and incorporating master suites with luxurious closets, bathrooms, and views. Laundry rooms and extra storage are added where they never existed in the past. Stair halls, butler’s pantries, and mudrooms become key support spaces.

From quaint, historic stone homes to modern, sprawling country estates, the farmhouse is an enduring beacon of authenticity, family roots, and provincial pride that beats on in the hearts of all who find a sense of home—and of self—on the winding dirt roads of the great American countryside.

Celebrating 10 Years in Business

September of 2020 marked 10 years in business for Period Architecture. Since 2010, they have grown from a three-person practice into an award-winning architectural firm with residential and commercial commissions along the east coast and beyond.

Remarking on the firm’s 10th anniversary, Co-Founder and President Joseph Mackin says, “We’re thrilled to celebrate such a tremendous milestone as a company. With a renewed appreciation for life at home, we’re delighted to remain an advocate for enduring architectural design and create beautifully livable places.”

In celebration of this milestone, Period Architecture would like to acknowledge and extend a heartfelt thank you to their clients and partners of the last ten years. “Our clients and their trust in our vision have been the driving force behind our success throughout the last ten years. Their support has inspired us to design not just beautifully crafted homes, but places to create treasured memories,” says Co-Founder and Vice-President Jeffrey Dolan

With commissions in Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey and throughout the eastern seaboard, Period Architecture has remained a committed steward of the landscape and vernacular architecture since 2010.