An artisan woodworker's farm-inspired dream house is made to measure
The Coyote Ridge Farmstead in Avon, Colorado, is in many ways the apex of homeowner Mike Farr’s uncommon approach to design and woodworking. The luxury bachelor pad is a 12,000-square-foot hat tip not to the barns of Colorado’s alpine landscape (a logical assumption) but rather to the rural structures of Farr’s native Nebraska. He and architect Andrew James Abraham sketched out the design on a roll of tracing paper one afternoon at a local coffee shop.
“I told Mike, ‘I’m from the Midwest too, so farmsteads come easily to me,’” recalls Abraham, principal of AJA Studio, based in Denver and Edwards, Colorado. “I asked him, ‘How far do you want to go with this idea?’” As it turns out, pretty far: A “grain silo” would act as an entry and foyer; “stables” would house the kitchen, great room and wine room; the master suite would reside in the “farmhouse” wing; and the formal dining room would take the shape of a corncrib, complete with walls angled at a seven-degree pitch. A series of bridges would unify the individual structures.
“I’ve always had a passion for imagining and creating really different things,” says Farr, whose boyhood hobby constructing go-carts out of scrap lumber evolved into a full-fledged artisan studio called Pure Woodworking, which masterfully crafts everything from custom wooden staircases to carved baseboards for private residences all over the country.
Coyote Ridge’s exterior wood siding is reclaimed from old rural buildings in Iowa and Nova Scotia, giving the mountain estate all the charm of a weathered barn. “We wanted the house to feel like it came from the earth, not like it was dropped upon it,” says Abraham. Inside, Farr’s inspired woodwork—much of it also crafted from reclaimed wood—creates a rich connection with the architecture and the land.
The modern silhouettes of Farr’s heirloom-quality works forge a beautiful tension between the wood’s timeworn character and the rustic outdoor landscape, teeming with sagebrush, spruce and aspens. But their elegance comes from the uncommon precision of their measurements: The dimensions of Farr’s masterpieces are all divisible by three-eighths of an inch. “This way, everything is subtly proportional,” he explains.
Farr’s longtime friend Tracie Schumacher, principal of Studio80 Interior Architecture and Design in Eagle, Colorado, attests to the total effect of such exactitude. “There’s definitely a homemade quality to the design, but it’s also very sophisticated thanks to inspiration that came from around the world,” she says. “We wanted to create a space that was at once functional and intellectually stimulating.”
Schumacher helped achieve the farmstead’s “industrial barn” vibe (think soaring spaces, exposed forms and raw finishes) by supplying inspiration for the overall design and the handcrafted furniture, ripping ideas straight from the pages of high-end design magazines.
A fragmented bookcase in the living room, for instance, has roots in Wallpaper magazine. The circular bench-cum-shoe-storage piece anchoring the lofty grain silo was also first spotted in a glossy.
Farr’s metalwork gives the home its industrial shine. The living-room fireplace is a precise arrangement of steel plates that Farr and Schumacher painstakingly planned. In the master bath, Farr capped the roomy shower stall with corrugated metal, in the tradition of old—ahem—outhouses. His bed is another steel showpiece, not just because it appears to float in midair but also because its electric-blue powder coat nods to one of his dream cars: a 1963 Chevy Corvette Grand Sport. The canary yellow that brightens the foyer bench was inspired by one of Farr’s Corvettes, which resides in the 12-car garage (aka the “barn”). And a cherry-red settee located on the bridge connecting the kitchen and master suite takes its cues from one particularly fast Italian sports car. “I don’t actually have a Ferrari,” Farr says, “but I really, really wish I did.”
Farm-fresh Design Tips Interior designer Tracie Schumacher gives us her no-fail formula for creating a successful modern-farm aesthetic in your own home.
DO infuse a dose of whimsy.
Elements of surprise and humor tone down the severity of the industrial aesthetic, which is typically muscular and austere. The Kettal Maia Swing Chair hanging from the rafters in Farr’s living room is a great example—its suspended nature and webbed composition play up the open space in the room. Grupo Kettal, 147 Miracle Mile, Coral Gables, FL, 786-552-9002, kettal.es
DON’T forget to add soft textures.
After all, too many straight lines and hard textures can lead to uncomfortably cold rooms. Schumacher added a fluffy alpaca rug to the living room; it’s a drastic contrast to, say, the found heavy-metal gears hanging on the wall. The Scarab Rugs and Tribal Arts, 201 Main St., Minturn, CO, 877-949-1730, thescarab.com
DO incorporate unique objects.
Explore garage sales, flea markets and salvage yards for one-of-a-kind vintage merchandise that will add depth and character to a lofty industrial space. The gears, which Farr discovered in an abandoned mine, are one example; another timeworn treasure is the trolley-cart coffee table, also a found object.
DO have fun with color.
Farm-inspired décor can be overwhelmingly earth-toned, a perfect environment for bright colors to thrive. From Farr’s custom electric-blue bed to the sitting room’s yellow handwoven rug made from Indian saris, Farr and Schumacher’s color choices here were bold but not clumsy. Also available at The Scarab.
DON’T overanalyze your choices.
Have fun creating something that’s unique to you. A personal stamp is the most important design element. Even if you don’t have the opportunities to design and build your own house and furniture, just as Farr did here, reveal your personality and history through heirloom objects, curiosities and objets d’arts of every price and scale.
ARCHITECTURE Andrew James Abraham, AIA, AJA Studio, Denver and Edwards, CO, 970-376-2575, aja-studio.com INTERIOR DESIGNER Tracie Schumacher, ASID, NCIDQ, Studio 80 Interior Architecture and Design, Vail, CO, 970-337-4770, studio80id.com ENTRY HALL LIGHT FIXTURE Large Hexalux, Fabulux Inc. 718-625-7661, fabuluxinc.com BENCH Custom Design, Mike Farr and Studio 80 LIVING ROOM KETTAL MAIA SWING CHAIR, Grupo Kettal, 786-552-9002, www.kettal.es CHARLES SECTIONAL SOFA B&B Italia, Studio Como, 303-296-1495, studiocomo.com KITCHEN BARSTOOLS Vintage Toledo Bar Chair, Restoration Hardware, restorationhardware.com RADIUS CHANDELIER, Fabulux Inc., 718-625-7661, fabuluxinc.com MASTER BATHROOM LIGHT FIXTURES Vanguard pendants, Fabulux Inc., 718-625-7661, fabuluxinc.com