The Modern Farmhouse
Many of you may know Kim Marvel Harrison and have been following her documentation of building a modern farmhouse in Arvada, Colorado. Here at HH we loved seeing this process unfold and couldn’t wait until its completion to ask Kim a little bit about her new house and how it came to fruition…
Explain a little about yourself?
I’m Kim Harrison. I’m originally from Bucks County, PA, but have lived in Colorado for 17 years. I work in marketing for a food company and volunteer at The Grey Tail benefiting the Baco Fund tack shop in Golden. I’m married to my best friend, David Harrison, and we have 3 rescue pups named Roswell, Chico and Zeke. I’m currently shopping for a new hunter/equitation horse.
How long have you been riding?
I started riding when I was 8 and rode until I went college. After nine long years without horses, I started riding again 6 years ago.
Who do you ride with?
I ride with Debbie Bergman of Rocky Mountain Riding Academy based out of Capricorn Farm in Golden.
Can you tell us a little about your new home and how you decided to take on the project?
We just moved into our newly built modern farmhouse and workshop that sits on an acre and half in Arvada, Colorado. It’s an open concept house with a great room, 3 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, a loft, a mudroom, a dog room and a bonus room that isn’t quite finished yet. We worked with Ken Bridges of BlueLine Architects on the design and Walker Melzer of Walker’s Woodcraft was our carpenter extraordinaire. David and GeoBuilder managed the project. We embarked on this project after my husband, David, went back to school for fine woodworking several years ago and fell in love with it. So the original plan was to turn the garage at our old house in Denver into a workshop. But after running into some zoning and space issues, we realized we were trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. So we started searching for properties just outside the city that had more room for a workshop and some more elbow room for everything else in our lives. From riding at Capricorn Farm, we knew about the Fairmont area right on the Arvada/Golden border, but we just didn’t find an existing home that was right for us. Then we got SUPER lucky and an empty lot went up for sale in the same area. We visited it the very next day and were there for all of 5 minutes before we decided to buy it and build on it.
What was your goal with building your new home?
We wanted to create an inviting, yet modern home. We wanted something that had a good separation between public and private spaces and was great for entertaining. We also wanted a home that fit our life well and had designated spaces for our needs (i.e. a dog room, a walk-in closet with an attached laundry room, space for 2 home offices, a private space for guests, an oversized garage for storing horse stuff, and a workshop for building furniture.)
What was your inspiration?
I grew up in an historic farmhouse and have always loved the utilitarian simplicity to their designs. I also love mid-century modern architecture, so when I stumbled across the modern farmhouse style I obviously got really excited. Thankfully David was on board with the style too! We found aspects of a few different modern farmhouses on Houzz & Pinterest that we liked and we ended up blending together ideas from all of them with the help of our incredibly talented (and patient!) architect.
How long did it take to build?
We bought the property 4 years ago. We spent 18 months coming up with the design. Then it took exactly 2 years 5 months and 5 days from the time we broke ground to when we passed our final inspection for the house and the workshop. There is still a long list of projects that need to be completed, such as landscaping and interior build out, but it feels really good to finally be living here! One of the benefits of the project taking so long is that it gave us the time to really focus on the important details. Along with the craftsmanship assistance from our friend Walker Melzer, he and David were really able to put their own special “woodwork-y” touch on the place.
Can you explain some of your favorite details?
The details in the great room (kitchen, dining, living room) are my favorite. The walls and ceiling are clad in shiplap that took Walker a full 6 weeks to hang. The precision and craftsmanship of his work really shines in this room – it’s truly a work of art! David built the kitchen cabinets and did a great job of adding unique touches like walnut kick boards and a nook for a dog bed in the kitchen island. There’s also a lot of reclaimed materials in the room from Front Range Timber and McPhee & McGinnity, such as beams from old mines, wood from the bed of an old tractor trailer and the front doors from the old Denver Hardware building.
What was the most difficult part of the process?
The design process was really hard! We had an amazing architect to help guide us, but when you’re building from scratch, there’s a lot of pressure to make sure you get things right from the start vs. working things into an existing design or floor plan. Also just the sheer number of decisions that you need to make when doing a custom home gets a little overwhelming and even hard to keep track of at times! But at the same time, it was really fun to get to make all of those decisions too!
What part of designing and building the home was your favorite?
I love how the silo came about. It started as the crazy idea of having a hot tub inside a metal grain silo. Then we ditched the hot tub idea, but incorporated the silo into the plans as part of the bonus room. We couldn’t do a basement because of how high the water table is in the area, so we wanted to add on some additional space for overflow living and dining, and to help balance the structure aesthetically from the exterior. A custom steel worker fabricated the metal skeleton of the silo and once it was framed in, David decided to Shou Sugi Ban the exterior boards, which is an ancient Japanese finishing technique where you burn the wood to seal and protect it. So this meant that poor David had to stand outside in the middle of the summer and burn every board that’s on the exterior of the silo with a blowtorch! Walker then finished the inside with dark beams and trim as well as a tin ceiling. We plan to add bookcases to the inside of the silo at some point down the road to give it a cozy library feel.