Country Living

Main Line Today

Tara Behan

25 January 2011

Dotting the magnificent landscape in East Fallowfield Township, Chester County, are farmhouses that date back to the mid-1700s. Set among these historic gems, there’s also one that’s a mere four years young. And thanks to architect Richard Buchanan and builders Robert Griffiths and Wayne Rowland, it’s a challenge to discern new from old. 

The owners wanted the house “to feel as if it had grown there” over the centuries. In fact, it appears as if it could’ve been an 18th century farmhouse that was expanded from three bays to five. 

Buchanan, of Archer & Buchanan Architecture in West Chester, has an unrivaled reputation for similar projects in Chester County and beyond, as does Griffiths. “We specialize in good construction,” says Griffiths. “We do quite a bit of this period work just because of where we are. There’s a high call for this sort of thing in the Chester County area.” 

Formerly of Bryn Mawr, the owners never had any desire to buy a farm — that is, until they got horses. “My neighbor moved out to this area,” says the owner. “As far as I was concerned, he may as well have moved to Iowa.” 

Soon enough, though, they found themselves making the drive to East Fallowfield every weekend to ride. “We looked forward to coming here, and I finally said, ‘This is ridiculous. Let’s buy a country house,’” says the owner. 

With that, the search for the perfect stone farmhouse on just the right piece of land ensued. What they found was a remarkable 33-acre property with a less-than-remarkable house — one loathed by neighbors. Built in the 1980s, the stucco home was a startling “Pepto-Bismol pink.” “When people asked why I bought the pink monstrosity, I showed them the view,” says the owner. 

The home overlooks two valleys of uninterrupted farmland open to the occasional fox hunter or fellow horse enthusiast. “I’d argue that they have the best view in Chester County,” says Rowland. “It’s absolutely spectacular.” 

At first, the home looked to be salvageable. But then came some honest advice from an architect: “Someone is going to knock this down; it might as well be you.”

Starting fresh, Buchanan designed a home with an authentic feel of an old Pennsylvania farmhouse, but with all the modern amenities. A priority was the use of old materials, including fieldstone reclaimed from a demolished Lehigh Valley barn for the home’s façade. 

The trend continues inside. Mantels in the dining and living rooms came from 19th century homes in Chester County and South Carolina. Many of the interior surfaces were hand-planed for an antiqued look, while wood panels and floorboards salvaged from old barns were used throughout the home. “Finding all these materials was a team effort—from the homeowners and Richard, to myself and the interior designer,” says Griffiths.

The responsibility for maintaining the period integrity of the interior spaces fell on Kirsten McCoy, partner at Meadowbank Designs in Wayne. “My partner, Laura Buchner, and I have worked on restorations of several of the Okie houses on the Main Line,” says McCoy. “Homeowners are usually willing to do what it takes to get it right.”

McCoy needed a clear understanding of the time period and a sound idea of how best to interpret that for today’s lifestyle. “You can have references to the time period, but it has to be livable,” she says. 

The proper selection of paint colors and furniture helped to achieve that. “The colors are more vibrant than the drab, traditional period colors of that time,” she says. “And if we filled the house with furniture from that time period, it wouldn’t be practical.”

The home’s kitchen comes by its rustic aesthetic through the use of reclaimed unfinished hardwood floors and exposed barn beams on the ceiling. Distressed green-blue cabinetry from Waterbury Kitchens in Kennett Square adds to the look. “I love that the cabinetry has a unique finish,” says McCoy. 

A large center island with a soapstone surface provides plenty of prep space for cooking. It would have been impossible to disguise the stainless-steel, professional-grade oven. Instead, McCoy opted to “hide” the refrigerator behind wood paneling, making it look more like an armoire than anything else.

The kitchen opens up to the dining room, which was designed around an antique, cornflower-blue corner cabinet from Philip H. Bradley Antiques in Downingtown. “We had it before we built the house,” says the owner. “The architect knew to work that into his plan.” 

The open hearth-style fireplace is gas, “so we can regulate it when we have dinner parties,” the owner says. 

Also in the dining room, a long harvest table can handle both intimate and larger dinner parties. The chandelier, various sconces and hardware came from Heritage Metalworks, a Downingtown company licensed to reinterpret or copy original designs from Winterthur Museum in Delaware. “The owner and I toured Winterthur several times,” says McCoy.

The home’s lower level boasts a workout area, a wine cellar, an office and a home theater room. Upstairs, the master bedroom has a fireplace with an antique mantel, plus built-in cabinetry and drawers for storage. In the master bathroom, the lady of the house requested a custom-designed washbasin vanity and a claw-foot tub. Elsewhere, the third-floor bedroom suites can accommodate overnight guests.

Wayne’s Jonathan Alderson designed the landscaping, which complements the existing natural surroundings. Outdoor living spaces aren’t limited to the back porch. A wide path leads to a natural-form, in-ground swimming pool surrounded by a flagstone terrace. 

“My wife and I saw this project as a four-legged stool: Archer & Buchanan, Griffiths, Meadowbank and Jonathan Alderson,” says the owner. “If there had been a weak leg, the whole stool would have fallen.”

Houzz Pro Spotlight: How Rural Regulations Can Enrich Your Country Estate

A West Chester architect shares ways to turn land and building restrictions into design opportunities - 27 March 2017

Archer & Buchanan Projects Win National Awards

AIA Philadelphia - 25 November 2013

50 Years of Stuckeman Works

Archer & Buchanan Architecture Feature - 1 May 2013

AIA Small Projects Structure Winner

Architectural Products
 - 1 July 2008

Please Vote for ABA's Cor-Ten Cattails

Architizer - 3 March 2015

Far from the Shire, a Hobbit House in PA

Associated Press - 12 December 2012

Far from the Shire, a Hobbit house in PA Country

Associated Press Video - 12 December 2012

Digital Underground

Bucks Life - 1 September 2013

On the drawing board

Building Design + Construction - 1 July 2013

Estates of Excellence

Chester County Town & Country Living - 1 October 2001

Bucolic Beauty, Classic Charm

Chester County Town & Country Living
 - 1 June 2005

Preserving Land and History

Chester County Town & Country Living
 - 1 April 2005

An Epic in the Making

Chester County Town & Country 
Living - 23 October 2008

Unique Homes - A House fit for a Hobbit

CNN Money - 28 November 2011

Vision Becomes Reality for Tolkien Collector

Collector’s News - 1 October 2006

Fit for a Hobbit

Cottages & Bungalows - 1 February 2009

73rd Tour of Tours

County Lines - 1 September 2013

Kimberton Sanctuary

County Lines - 1 September 2012

72nd Tour of Tours

County Lines - 1 September 2012

Arts & Crafts Inspiration

County Lines - 1 February 2010

71st Tour of Tours

County Lines - 1 September 2011

Home of the Month

County Lines - 1 March 2013

All Around Farm

County Lines - 1 February 2013

Preserving & Celebrating History

County Lines Magazine - 31 January 2017

Mercer Hill Farm

Covertside - 1 December 2007

Ground broken for Lenfest Center

Daily Local News - 24 May 2012

The return of an old favorite is brewing in Greenville

Delaware Community News - 16 August 2009

Lenfest Center at the ChesLen Preserve dedication planned

Delaware County News Network - 1 June 2013

Archer & Buchanan's Cattail Fence Wins Design Award

Dexigner.com - 20 September 2012

Soundproof Theater Fits Country Lifestyle

Electronic House
 - 1 May 2008

Adirondack, Shingle Style

Fine Homebuilding - 1 April 2005

Sounds as Good as it Looks

Fine Homebuilding - 1 March 2005

A cottage fit for a hobbit

Fine Homebuilding - 1 May 2007

Arts & Crafts and Automobiles

Fine Homebuilding Magazine - 1 March 2017

Mud Room's the Name, Organizing's the Aim

Fine Homebuilding Magazine - 24 September 2015

Swarthmore's New Greenhouse

Garden Design - 24 February 2010

On the Fence

Gardening Australia Magazine - 1 June 2015

Scott's new Wister Center receives Green Building of America Award

Greater Philadelphia Gardens - 20 August 2009

Old-fashioned Entertainment

HD Living - 1 January 2008

"Home Sweet Home" in a Barn

HGTV - 23 February 2017

5 Houses Where You Can Pretend to Be a Hobbit

HGTV Front Door - 9 December 2013

Can't go wrong with...

HGTV Magazine - 1 April 2013

Converting an Old Horse Barn in Pennsylvania

Hooked on Houses - 5 September 2013

15 Dream Closets to Admire

Houzz - 23 January 2017

14 Gardens Straight out of Fairy Tales

Houzz.com - 31 January 2015

8 Fireplaces to Feed Your Kitchen's Style

Houzz.com - 21 January 2013

Sample Bright Color in the Kitchen

Houzz.com - 27 February 2012

Beauty Goes Beyond the Eye of the Beholder

Houzz.com - 28 August 2013

9 Ways to Boost Winter Curb Appeal

Houzz.com - 28 November 2013

25 Most Bookmarked Houzz Tours of 2012

Houzz.com - 1 January 2013

25 Dream Homes to Satisfy Your Soul

Houzz.com - 17 June 2012

Help Your Stair Landing Take Off

Houzz.com - 6 June 2012

4 Hobbit Houses Bring Charm to the Landscape

Houzz.com - 1 December 2012

Renovation Detail: The Transom Window

Houzz.com - 3 May 2012

Fall in Love with Lacquer

Houzz.com - 7 January 2016

Staircase Landings Worth a Linger

Houzz.com - 10 November 2012

Groom your Rooms with Kentucky Derby Decor

Houzz.com - 29 April 2012

Academy Attic Hearth Uncovered

Lower Merion Historical Society Milestones - 1 April 2009

Archer & Buchanan Architecture, Ltd.

Luxury Home Quarterly - 1 April 2011

Mod Men

Main Line - 1 October 2009

A Celebration of Preservation

Main Line Suburban Life
 - 1 September 2010

Artsy Elegance

Main Line Today - 1 June 2008

Element of Surprise

Main Line Today - 22 January 2010

Going to The Whip

Main Line Today - 1 March 2008

Custom Cozy

Main Line Today - 1 December 2003

Peeling Back the Layers

Main Line Today - 1 December 2003

Country Living

Main Line Today - 25 January 2011

A Newtown Square Home with German Inspiration

Main Line Today - 5 February 2016

Handmade Marvel

Main Line Today - 1 December 2006

Homage to Okie

Main Line Today - 14 January 2009

101 Reasons to Love the Main Line and Western Suburbs

Main Line Today Magazine - 1 March 2015

Music Recording, Down on the Farm

Mix - 1 August 2002

The New Hampshire House

Montco Homes, Gardens, & Lifestyle - 1 November 2016

Take a Tour of the Lenfest Center…

Natural Lands Spring/Summer 2013 - 1 June 2013

Chester Co. Hobbit House Belongs to Lifelong Tolkien Fan

NBC 10 Philadelphia - 14 December 2012

Okie Inspired

New Old House - 1 April 2009

Starry Night Farm

New Old House - 1 January 2008

Fluid Forms

Period Homes - 1 September 2006

Equestrian Lifestyle

Period Homes - 1 May 2013

Palladio Through the Years

Period Homes - 1 January 2011

Small Comfort

Period Homes - 1 July 2007

Built to Last

Period Homes - 1 January 2007

Pure and Simple

Period Homes - 1 November 2009

A Place in the Sun

Period Homes
 - 1 March 2006


Stable R&R

Period Homes
 - 1 July 2005

Great Expectations

Philadelphia - 1 June 2009

Making New Look Old

Philadelphia Business Journal - 8 June 2007

Finding an Architect

Philadelphia Home & Garden - 1 January 2007

Safe Harbor

Philadelphia Home & Garden 
 - 1 June 2006

Cool Rooms

Philadelphia Home & Garden 
 - 1 October 2003

A Newfangled, Old-Fashioned Mash Up

Philadelphia Inquirer - 6 July 2013

Decorator unleashes the potential of her own home

Philadelphia Inquirer - 24 July 2011

Born to Love Barns

Philadelphia Inquirer - 24 June 2011

Come Along To See Their Party Barns

Philadelphia Inquirer - 24 May 2014

The Stunning New Farmhouse on Historic Ardrossan Estate

PHILADELPHIA MAGAZINE - 14 June 2017

Jawdropper of the Week: Nirvana in Devon for $8M

Philadelphia Magazine - 9 February 2017

Back to the barn

Philadelphia Style - 1 November 2007

Archer & Buchanan Student Activities Center Opens

Press Release - 1 October 2012

Archer & Buchanan Projects Win National Awards

Press Release - 1 November 2013

Archer & Buchanan Names New Senior Associate

Press Release - 1 August 2012

New Life for Water Works Building

Press Release - 1 November 2011

Archer & Buchanan Receives Best of Houzz 2014 Award

Press Release - 4 February 2014

Archer & Buchanan Receives 2014 Palladio Award

Press Release - 10 March 2014

Archer & Buchanan Bring on New Principal

Press Release - 1 June 2012

Architectural Portfolio "Outstanding Designs"

Press Release - 1 November 2008

Christian Activities Building

Press Release - 1 May 2009

Wister Center Wins GOLD

Press Release - 1 November 2010

Archer & Buchanan’s Land Preserve Wins Design Award

Press Release - 23 September 2013

Archer & Buchanan Architecture Wins First Outstanding Firm Award

Society of American Registered Architects, Pennsylvania Council honors firm and new project - 30 November 2015

Remaking History

Suburban Life - 1 March 2012

Big Building Projects at Grove City College

The Business Journal - 9 February 2011

Down on the Farm

The Hunt - 1 April 2008

The Custom Home - Five Trends to Watch

The Hunt - 1 December 2012

Modernizing an 18th Century Farmhouse

The Hunt Magazine - 20 June 2017

A Barn For all Reasons-- Especially Parties

The Hunt Magazine - 4 May 2016

Hillandale Farm Provides an Oasis for Empty Nesters

The Hunt Magazine - 12 August 2016

Giving Antique Objects a Second Chance

The Hunt Magazine - 19 January 2017

The Custom Home: Five Trends to Watch

The Hunt Magazine - 1 December 2013

Lenfest Center Opens at the ChesLen Preserve

The Hunt Magazine - 22 July 2013

Hillandale Farm Provides an Oasis for Empty Nesters

The Hunt Magazine - 12 August 2016

The Wister Education Center and Greenhouse

The Journal of Green Building - 1 April 2010

Pet Projects

The Philadelphia Inquirer - 11 December 2015

A 'modest proposal' could save Eastern's log cabin

The Suburban and Wayne Times - 13 March 2008

Stars Align to Spotlight Preserve’s Latest Addition

The Unionville Times - 18 June 2013

Complementing History

Traditional Building Magazine - 23 June 2014

Planting Ideas

Traditional Building
 - 1 October 2010

All-Around Adaption

Untacked Magazine - 4 May 2015

Happy Days

Veranda - 1 January 2013

Loading tweets...