Contemporary Farmhouse Vineyard in Minnesota

Contemporary Farmhouse Vineyard in Minnesota

A modern farmhouse may seem like an oxymoron to some people, but also for Bill Costello of Murphy & Co.. Design, the farmhouse feel was appropriate for his client, vintner Billy Smith. Even though the home and land function as a vineyard, historic barns in the region were Costello’s starting point.

“In design, there is always a leap of faith the accomplished form will align with the aims with which it was created,” Costello says. “We as designers are asking the client to spend a lot of money in something we can only represent abstractly. Luckily, my client and I trusted each other immediately.”

at a Glance
Who lives here: Billy Smith and his two sons
Location: Wayzata, Minnesota
Size: 5,444 square-foot
That’s interesting: The house was built on land once farmed for the foxglove flowers, which were processed into a heart disease therapy.

Although not initially evident, Costello utilized the simple geometries of historic farmhouses in the region to make Smith’s house. The idea of getting contrary powers working interdependently in the organic world was introduced in by Smith, who, according to Costello, “embodies the yin and yang principle of balancing opposite energies”

“The program is a very simple cross. Historical farmhouses had simple overhangs to get out rainwater and away from the barn. We played off of the idea by doing a zero overhang on the rear side and doing overhangs around 8 feet over the snowy side,” says Costello.

The biggest challenge for Costello and his design firm: The city of Wayzata’s government staff flocked to the farmhouse’s modern soul. Costello says, “Wayzata is a quaint suburb of Minneapolis, and they have a provision in their code which essentially says they can deny building permits according to architectural style and design. Luckily, my client believed strongly in what we were creating and fought the city for a year to construct what he wanted. He triumphed in the end”

The positioning and order of these windows reflect the yin and yang principle which Smith lives by: On the darkened side of the home, the windows are all aligned and the same dimensions, while the positioning of windows onto the white side (viewed here) appears arbitrary. “What people don’t understand is that the window positioning on the snowy side is actually tactical, most often to frame a specific view,” says Costello.

“We wanted to make a house that reflected the site on which it was constructed — for the house to prevent being the same old suburban home,” says Costello. The farmhouse provides a cozy space for Billy and his sons, Harrison and Parker, to entertain and …

… includes a wine “basement” to showcase his wines. The lower level houses the wine arrangement in addition to an open space for tastings that opens out on the vineyard. Even though Warehouse Winery was founded only five decades back, its offerings have been voted Greatest Minnesota Wine for two consecutive years.

Costello says this room, constructed of stainless steel mesh and glass showcases the “literal fruits of the homeowner’s labour.”

Warehouse Winery is the vineyard of its size that’s situated in a residential neighborhood. Only two rows of vines from Smith’s vineyard were missing in securing the construction permit for his farmhouse.

Murphy & Co.. Design

The railroad, a mixture of industrial and natural substances, was created by Murphy & Co. and custom made by Islero Fabrication.

The architectural lines of these rectangular windows, steps, cabinets and exposed beams are bolstered by the leaning staircase guardrails — albeit at a quirky, angled method.

The dining table top is Italian wood veneer over an aluminum plate using a stainless steel underbody. Costello says that Smith loves galvanized steel, so the opinion was carried into the furniture pieces custom made for him by Costello’s furniture company, Lucero Studio.

Foreground pottery: Billy Smith; green vase: purchased in Peru; ceramic orb: Steve Hemingway

As you can see from the kitchen (previous photo), the hallway cabinets and the stairs flooring padding, the white and black motif runs throughout the home as a representation of yin and yang.

The dangling LED pendants of various lengths have shades constructed of carbon fiber. The pendants’ positioning in the room is based on gathering spots that were anticipated.

Pendant lights: Vibia

Another view of the deliberate positioning of these LED pendants at the usual areas.

The bar stools are a great illustration of the joint efforts of both client and specialist: Lucero Studio did the metalwork, and Smith carved the wood blocks himself out of old telephone pole remnants. “My client uses the kitchen every day. He loves to cook for friends and family as they gather around the staircase,” says Costello.

The bed and floating headboard are made of black walnut, a part of a tree which fell on Smith’s property. Costello had it milled and dried; the sculptural headboard bits were “left a little less dry and mounted on rotatable pins so they can twist.”

Bed frame and headboard bits: Lucero Studio

Murphy & Co.. Design

“We also played off the notion of front porches by having multiple open areas connected to the home to benefit from the perspectives and several fire pits,” says Costello.

For Smith, the home simply works. “The modern farmhouse appeal, the stream of the interior, the use of organic light night and day — the home works. That which is in balance,” he states.

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