Homage to Okie
A Malvern farmhouse takes its cues from the famed architect.
Photos by John Lewis
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The setting often dictates the design of a new home. So it was no surprise when a local couple decided to build a farmhouse on their 15 beautiful acres in Malvern. As they sought out information on Pennsylvania farmhouses, they came across the work of famed Main Line architect R. Brognard Okie and were instantly taken by his signature style. Further inquiries led them to Richard Buchanan of Archer & Buchanan Architecture in West Chester. “We’ve designed many homes in the style of Okie,” says Buchanan. “We’re interpreting Okie, and Okie was interpreting the Pennsylvania farmhouse.”
Buchanan’s appreciation for Okie’s work goes back to his childhood. “My father was an Okie enthusiast,” he says. “He was always pointing out examples of his work and explaining to me what made it so unique.”
It was Okie’s attention to detail that makes his designs classic. “A Pennsylvania farmhouse is so much more than just a simple five-bay house,” says Buchanan. “Okie’s homes have a simple image that sticks with you. There is no mistaking [an original] from a knockoff.”
With architect and client on the same page, the next step was finding a builder to articulate their vision. They decided on Paoli-based Martin J. Cappelletti Custom Builders, who boast an impressive portfolio of additions, renovations and new construction. “We consider ourselves a boutique builder,” says Marty Cappelletti. “We get really involved with our projects and always give our clients very personal attention.”
Cappelletti knew Archer & Buchanan would be the perfect collaborator. “If you’re looking for detail and someone who is going to monitor that detail, Archer & Buchanan are your guys,” he says. “They don’t settle for anything that doesn’t exactly match what they’ve drawn. And their absolute attention to detail shows when they finish.”
Before construction began, Buchanan stressed two things to project superintendent Andy Lucas. “He told me the key was that it had to be simple and not overdone,” Lucas recalls.
For the homeowners, there were a number of absolutes. Plenty of windows were needed to maximize views of the gorgeous open acreage. “And we wanted the house to have the details of an older home, but to fit our family with four children,” says one owner.
They sought to avoid some of the elements common in newer homes. “We didn’t want soaring ceilings, a two-story entry foyer or oversized rooms,” she says. “We didn’t want any wasted space.”
Buchanan designed a kitchen that opened up to the family room. “These are the two rooms we spend the most time in together as a family,” says the owner. “I love standing [in the kitchen] cooking and having a perfect view of the fireplace.”
The kitchen’s white cabinets and beaded inset doors were chosen for their easy maintenance and Quaker-like simplicity. Classic white subway-style tiles form the backsplash for the stainless steel oven and hood; the refrigerator is also stainless steel. Black, honed granite tops the counters, which line the perimeter of the room.
“I love the white kitchen,” says the owner. “Plenty of color always fills the room through the food.”