top of page

South Carolina Farmhouse Renovation

**Shortlisted for The Plan Magazine’s Kitchen Design Special Contest, 2018**

Inman, South Carolina


Type: Historic Residential Renovation

2,000 sf

Project Text

The Inman Farmhouse works to achieve a cohesive renovation for an early 19th century farmhouse with primary focus directed toward relocating and expanding the kitchen and baths. The house, which dates to 1842, is a significant vernacular architectural artifact and the design objective is to reveal the historic material layers in effort to celebrate the character and grit of the hand hewn timber construction.  It is an act of progressive preservation, where the peeling paint and rough grain of the past is exposed and left unpolished, while new, contemporary interventions are inserted into the house to frame a new kitchen and bath spaces.  The project started as a subtractive operation whereby the existing kitchen—a 20th century addition—was removed, shrinking the structure back to its original footprint.


The Inman Farmhouse is one of the oldest houses in the upstate of South Carolina.  The structure is an example of a central hall farmhouse with two square rooms flanking the hall and a second floor loft.   Much of the house’s historic features are still intact including the “Bible Doors” brought by wagon from Charleston and the wood mantels.  The house’s structure is made with heart pine 4x4 framing (typical) with mortise and tenon connections into the sills.   The rafters are made of peeled pine poles approximately 4” in diameter.  Sills are large hewn logs.  The first floor joist are made with 8” diameter pine poles.  The original foundations are stacked stone sitting on grade. 


The concept for the renovation was historic cannibalization—slice, cut and dismantled strategic locations of the original farmhouse to create a more flexible and cohesive spatial condition.  The interior of the house is “opened up” at a few strategic locations to allow for continuity between multiple domestic programs. The result is the kitchen now has a spatial relationship to the den, 2nd floor loft, and dining area.


The center piece to this subtractive operation is the table, which forms a seam between den and kitchen. By subtracting the wall that divided the square, southeastern den and the rectilinear southwestern room (used as a kitchen in late 20th century), a common ground for the family is created by the intervention of a long table fabricated from laminated heart-pine salvaged from the demolition. 


This strategy characterizes the mode of operation for the rest of the kitchen as well.  Original ceilings and walls were dismantled at strategic locations to allow for a new volumetric reading of the vernacular house.  The dismantled material was then re-milled into thin slats that were laminated for from the kitchen and bathroom millwork.  90% of the material removed was repurposed into a new domestic form for the historic home. 


Significant spatial and material reconfiguration occurs in two locations: the Master Bathroom and the Kitchen / Dining. These spaces implement clean, contemporary material finishes and details that contrast the original timber structure.  Both kitchen and bath are framed by a ribbon window that connects cooking and bathing to the western fields and sunset. 



Seth McDowell, Rychiee Espinosa



Sam Brannon

Photography and Images: 

©mcdowellespinosa architects

bottom of page