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Inner Workings

A traditional farmhouse belies its technological advances



John Gruen

For Rafe Churchill, the bright-yellow farmhouse he designed in Sharon isn’t about the sustainable technology that he and his brother concealed when building the home. It’s about the traditional look and feel that you can’t miss. “This being a farm property, we wanted to design a house in a setting that was appropriate because the owners do have plans to develop the property for small farming use and permaculture,” Churchill says. 

Churchill, a third-generation builder who owns Churchill Brothers, LLC, with his brother Seth, modeled the home after an early-1900s–style, center-hall colonial farmhouse. While Rafe runs the design studio, his brother manages most of the construction work. They started building this home in April 2011 and finished just nine months later. 

The brothers have been doing sustainable-building projects for several years, and Rafe says it’s not as challenging as one might think. “If you design responsibly and follow by building responsibly, you’re really halfway there,” he says. Sticking with the original design is something Rafe says is imperative for containing costs and usually leaves clients happier in the end. Staying “on plan,” he says, is something that set these clients apart from others. Having worked with the Churchill brothers on a sustainable townhouse in the Red Hook section of Brooklyn, the family asked them to do their country home. 

“They came to us and said, ‘We want a very simple house, a house for us to use on the weekends and maybe for longer stays in the summer, and we don’t want our kids to have huge bedrooms with private baths. We want the family to spend time together,’” says Rafe. 

With that in mind, Rafe based the design of the four-bedroom, 2½-bath home on a traditional plan, with minor modifications to allow for a little more room in the common spaces because sharing those spaces is important to the family. Says Rafe, “If you’re inviting people to your house to spend time with you, why are they locked away in a thousand-square-foot suite when really they should be in the common areas together?”

In contrast to its traditional layout, the home also has some very up-to-date features. Solar panels on the roof basically offset all of the home’s electricity costs. Geothermal wells and heat pumps allow for radiant heat. Rainwater cisterns provide water for irrigation, filling the fresh-water pool, and flushing toilets. The home is also so well insulated that outside noise doesn’t permeate indoor spaces, nor can even a breeze be felt coming through the windows or doors as it would be in a drafty old farmhouse. 

“These homes are built so tight that we had to provide air systems that bring in fresh air to allow the kitchen hood to actually function correctly,” says Rafe. As mentioned, the house is equipped with all the latest technology, though it is hidden from view. “The house isn’t designed around the technology, the technology is designed around the house,” he adds. 

The simple, modest design seen from the outside is something the family also wanted to replicate for the interior of the home. That’s why they turned to Rafe’s wife, Heide Hendricks, who owns Reservoir, an interior design company and who decorated the homeowners’ townhouse in Brooklyn. Hendricks says the clients clicked with her passion for finding unique and vintage items and liked her design eye. 

When researching with the clients, Hendricks discovered their interest in Shaker aesthetic. “While they really responded to the uncluttered, well-organized flow of Shaker rooms, we strove to appropriate that. But they also loved furnishings with character and a natural patina,” says Hendricks. “Likewise, it was important for them to not source the stuff from across the country.” 

Hendricks says with a few exceptions, she was able to get most of the furnishings from within 75 miles of Sharon. She found wooden cannon-ball beds for the kids’ rooms at an estate sale, and the wrought-iron beds on the porch came from Hob Nail Iron Beds in Pawling. A cabinet in the powder room came from the Millerton Antiques Center, and a New England elk hide hanging over the living-room sofa was produced in Woodbury. (The animal died a natural death, we’re told.)

While most of the rooms in the home have the same textured, plaster walls and sparse furnishings, a couple of others stray from those motifs. One is the television room, which is filled with bright, vibrant patterns. The mudroom, with its pine walls, also stands out. Hendricks laughs as she says it was always supposed to be like a man cave. “You have the massive, worn-leather chair and the wood stove, and typically there’s a giant pile of fire wood.” The floor of the mudroom also contrasts with the rest of the home. Instead of the Southern yellow pine found in a lot of Shaker buildings, the mudroom floor is made of reclaimed bricks.

Like those bricks and many of the home’s fixtures, Rafe says the owners also intend to reclaim the property’s surrounding farmland—a project that will span the next few years. “They didn’t have a landscape company just come in and do a start-to-finish before they moved in,” says Rafe of his clients’ unique vision. “This is something that they want to see evolve, and I think that’s true of the house itself. They want to live in it, they want to adapt to it.” n

 

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June 2017

The Round Hill Highland Games is an annual festival celebrating Scottish heritage and culture, holding traditional professional and amateur highland game competitions. It was King Malcolm III...

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Gunn Memorial Library
5 Wykeham Road
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Telephone: 860-868-7586
Contact Name: Sharon A Morrissey
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The Silo
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Cost: $30.

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Nancy Marine Studio Theatre - Warner Theatre
82 Main St
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Telephone: (860) 489-7180
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Oliver Wolcott Library
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Cost: $200 per child

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44 Upland Road
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Sponsor: The Silo
Telephone: 860-355-0300
Contact Name: kim Prange
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Cost: $195.00 PER WEEK

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ECAD Campus
149 Newfield Road
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Sponsor: ECAD, Educated Canines Assisting with Disabilities
Telephone: (917) 664-8092
Contact Name: Patricia Robert
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Cost: Free

Where:
Gunn Memorial Library
5 Wykeham Road
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View map »


Sponsor: Gunn Memorial Library
Telephone: 860-868-7586
Contact Name: Sharon A Morrissey
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Instructor: Nancy Stuart Young chefs will have 4 days of cooking with Nancy in the Silo kitchen. Learning chopping, mixing, baking and more! Monday, June 26 is all about breakfast...

Cost: $200 per child

Where:
The Silo
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Sponsor: The Silo
Telephone: 860-355-0300
Contact Name: kim Prange
Website »

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Carol Moore is a lifelong resident of Litchfield, currently residing in Bantam. She is well-know in the area for her colorful, energy-charged paintings and pottery. Carol has always been drawn to...

Cost: Free

Where:
Oliver Wolcott Library
160 South St
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Sponsor: Oliver Wolcott Library
Telephone: 860-567-8030
Contact Name: Tricia Messenger
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Heather Gaudio Fine Art is pleased to announce Charlie Hewitt.  Heart of Gold, a mixed media exhibition featuring paintings, works-on-paper, ceramics and sculpture.  The show will open...

Cost: Free

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    With summer just around the corner, Linda Mazzeo and other members of the ECAD team are busy planning all the fun activities for the kids, age 9-13, who will attend the annual Summer Camp...

Cost: $195.00 PER WEEK

Where:
ECAD Campus
149 Newfield Road
Winsted, CT  06790
View map »


Sponsor: ECAD, Educated Canines Assisting with Disabilities
Telephone: (917) 664-8092
Contact Name: Patricia Robert
Website »

More information

Instructor: Nancy Stuart Young chefs will have 4 days of cooking with Nancy in the Silo kitchen. Learning chopping, mixing, baking and more! Monday, June 26 is all about breakfast Tuesday,...

Cost: $200 per child

Where:
The Silo
44 Upland Road
New Milford, CT  06776
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Sponsor: The Silo
Telephone: 860-355-0300
Contact Name: kim Prange
Website »

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Cost: Free

Where:
Gunn Memorial Library
5 Wykeham Road
Washington, CT  06793
View map »


Sponsor: Gunn Memorial Library
Telephone: 860-868-7586
Contact Name: Sharon A Morrissey
Website »

More information

Instructor: Nancy Stuart Young chefs will have 4 days of cooking with Nancy in the Silo kitchen. Learning chopping, mixing, baking and more! Monday, June 26 is all about breakfast...

Cost: $200 per child

Where:
The Silo
44 Upland Road
New Milford, CT  06776
View map »


Sponsor: The Silo
Telephone: 860-355-0300
Contact Name: kim Prange
Website »

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Heather Gaudio Fine Art is pleased to announce Charlie Hewitt.  Heart of Gold, a mixed media exhibition featuring paintings, works-on-paper, ceramics and sculpture.  The show will open...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
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Website »

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Cost: Free

Where:
Oliver Wolcott Library
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Sponsor: Oliver Wolcott Library
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Contact Name: Tricia Messenger
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Cost: Free!

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
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View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Megan Olver
Website »

More information

The Litchfield Historical Society is pleased to announce the opening of a new exhibit Thoughts, Words, and Deeds: Exploring the Litchfield Female Academy, on view April 22 through November 27, 2017...

Cost: Free!

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Megan Olver
Website »

More information

Carol Moore is a lifelong resident of Litchfield, currently residing in Bantam. She is well-know in the area for her colorful, energy-charged paintings and pottery. Carol has always been drawn to...

Cost: Free

Where:
Oliver Wolcott Library
160 South St
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Oliver Wolcott Library
Telephone: 860-567-8030
Contact Name: Tricia Messenger
Website »

More information

Show More...
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Cost: $195.00 PER WEEK

Where:
ECAD Campus
149 Newfield Road
Winsted, CT  06790
View map »


Sponsor: ECAD, Educated Canines Assisting with Disabilities
Telephone: (917) 664-8092
Contact Name: Patricia Robert
Website »

More information

Instructor: Nancy Stuart Young chefs will have 4 days of cooking with Nancy in the Silo kitchen. Learning chopping, mixing, baking and more! Monday, June 26 is all about breakfast Tuesday,...

Cost: $200 per child

Where:
The Silo
44 Upland Road
New Milford, CT  06776
View map »


Sponsor: The Silo
Telephone: 860-355-0300
Contact Name: kim Prange
Website »

More information

Anita Healy’s First Solo Show  “Breathe” June 3 through July 22 in Gunn Memorial Library Stairwell Gallery Reception June 17, 12p-2p Gunn Memorial Library...

Cost: Free

Where:
Gunn Memorial Library
5 Wykeham Road
Washington, CT  06793
View map »


Sponsor: Gunn Memorial Library
Telephone: 860-868-7586
Contact Name: Sharon A Morrissey
Website »

More information

Instructor: Nancy Stuart Young chefs will have 4 days of cooking with Nancy in the Silo kitchen. Learning chopping, mixing, baking and more! Monday, June 26 is all about breakfast...

Cost: $200 per child

Where:
The Silo
44 Upland Road
New Milford, CT  06776
View map »


Sponsor: The Silo
Telephone: 860-355-0300
Contact Name: kim Prange
Website »

More information

Heather Gaudio Fine Art is pleased to announce Charlie Hewitt.  Heart of Gold, a mixed media exhibition featuring paintings, works-on-paper, ceramics and sculpture.  The show will open...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Website »

More information

Sports and recreation are universal experiences. Whether we make it to the big leagues or never leave our backyards, these activities play important roles in our lives. They help us form...

Cost: Free!

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Megan Olver
Website »

More information

The Litchfield Historical Society is pleased to announce the opening of a new exhibit Thoughts, Words, and Deeds: Exploring the Litchfield Female Academy, on view April 22 through November 27, 2017...

Cost: Free!

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Megan Olver
Website »

More information

Carol Moore is a lifelong resident of Litchfield, currently residing in Bantam. She is well-know in the area for her colorful, energy-charged paintings and pottery. Carol has always been drawn to...

Cost: Free

Where:
Oliver Wolcott Library
160 South St
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Oliver Wolcott Library
Telephone: 860-567-8030
Contact Name: Tricia Messenger
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Instructor: Nancy Stuart Young chefs will have 4 days of cooking with Nancy in the Silo kitchen. Learning chopping, mixing, baking and more! Monday, June 26 is all about breakfast Tuesday,...

Cost: $200 per child

Where:
The Silo
44 Upland Road
New Milford, CT  06776
View map »


Sponsor: The Silo
Telephone: 860-355-0300
Contact Name: kim Prange
Website »

More information

Anita Healy’s First Solo Show  “Breathe” June 3 through July 22 in Gunn Memorial Library Stairwell Gallery Reception June 17, 12p-2p Gunn Memorial Library...

Cost: Free

Where:
Gunn Memorial Library
5 Wykeham Road
Washington, CT  06793
View map »


Sponsor: Gunn Memorial Library
Telephone: 860-868-7586
Contact Name: Sharon A Morrissey
Website »

More information

    With summer just around the corner, Linda Mazzeo and other members of the ECAD team are busy planning all the fun activities for the kids, age 9-13, who will attend the annual Summer Camp...

Cost: $195.00 PER WEEK

Where:
ECAD Campus
149 Newfield Road
Winsted, CT  06790
View map »


Sponsor: ECAD, Educated Canines Assisting with Disabilities
Telephone: (917) 664-8092
Contact Name: Patricia Robert
Website »

More information

On July 29 and 30, nearly a dozen Goshen farms including Mohawk Bison will open up their barn doors to the public for a free tour. Explore and  learn about the diverse and special...

Cost: Free

Where:
Various
Goshen, CT


Website »

More information

Heather Gaudio Fine Art is pleased to announce Charlie Hewitt.  Heart of Gold, a mixed media exhibition featuring paintings, works-on-paper, ceramics and sculpture.  The show will open...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Website »

More information

Carol Moore is a lifelong resident of Litchfield, currently residing in Bantam. She is well-know in the area for her colorful, energy-charged paintings and pottery. Carol has always been drawn to...

Cost: Free

Where:
Oliver Wolcott Library
160 South St
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Oliver Wolcott Library
Telephone: 860-567-8030
Contact Name: Tricia Messenger
Website »

More information

Instructor: Nancy Stuart Young chefs will have 4 days of cooking with Nancy in the Silo kitchen. Learning chopping, mixing, baking and more! Monday, June 26 is all about breakfast...

Cost: $200 per child

Where:
The Silo
44 Upland Road
New Milford, CT  06776
View map »


Sponsor: The Silo
Telephone: 860-355-0300
Contact Name: kim Prange
Website »

More information

Sports and recreation are universal experiences. Whether we make it to the big leagues or never leave our backyards, these activities play important roles in our lives. They help us form...

Cost: Free!

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Megan Olver
Website »

More information

The Litchfield Historical Society is pleased to announce the opening of a new exhibit Thoughts, Words, and Deeds: Exploring the Litchfield Female Academy, on view April 22 through November 27, 2017...

Cost: Free!

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Megan Olver
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Instructor: Nancy Stuart Young chefs will have 4 days of cooking with Nancy in the Silo kitchen. Learning chopping, mixing, baking and more! Monday, June 26 is all about breakfast Tuesday,...

Cost: $200 per child

Where:
The Silo
44 Upland Road
New Milford, CT  06776
View map »


Sponsor: The Silo
Telephone: 860-355-0300
Contact Name: kim Prange
Website »

More information

Anita Healy’s First Solo Show  “Breathe” June 3 through July 22 in Gunn Memorial Library Stairwell Gallery Reception June 17, 12p-2p Gunn Memorial Library...

Cost: Free

Where:
Gunn Memorial Library
5 Wykeham Road
Washington, CT  06793
View map »


Sponsor: Gunn Memorial Library
Telephone: 860-868-7586
Contact Name: Sharon A Morrissey
Website »

More information

The Silly Sprout in Litchfield, a unique children’s boutique offering a carefully chosen diversity of toys, clothing and books suitable for birth to ten years old, will add a Little Free...

Cost: Free

Where:
The Silly Sprout
469 Bantam Road
Route 202
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Little Free Library at StoneHill
Telephone: 203-770-4156
Contact Name: Jo Ann Jaacks
Website »

More information

Instructor: Nancy Stuart Young chefs will have 4 days of cooking with Nancy in the Silo kitchen. Learning chopping, mixing, baking and more! Monday, June 26 is all about breakfast...

Cost: $200 per child

Where:
The Silo
44 Upland Road
New Milford, CT  06776
View map »


Sponsor: The Silo
Telephone: 860-355-0300
Contact Name: kim Prange
Website »

More information

Heather Gaudio Fine Art is pleased to announce Charlie Hewitt.  Heart of Gold, a mixed media exhibition featuring paintings, works-on-paper, ceramics and sculpture.  The show will open...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Website »

More information

Sports and recreation are universal experiences. Whether we make it to the big leagues or never leave our backyards, these activities play important roles in our lives. They help us form...

Cost: Free!

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Megan Olver
Website »

More information

The Litchfield Historical Society is pleased to announce the opening of a new exhibit Thoughts, Words, and Deeds: Exploring the Litchfield Female Academy, on view April 22 through November 27, 2017...

Cost: Free!

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Megan Olver
Website »

More information

    With summer just around the corner, Linda Mazzeo and other members of the ECAD team are busy planning all the fun activities for the kids, age 9-13, who will attend the annual Summer Camp...

Cost: $195.00 PER WEEK

Where:
ECAD Campus
149 Newfield Road
Winsted, CT  06790
View map »


Sponsor: ECAD, Educated Canines Assisting with Disabilities
Telephone: (917) 664-8092
Contact Name: Patricia Robert
Website »

More information

On July 29 and 30, nearly a dozen Goshen farms including Mohawk Bison will open up their barn doors to the public for a free tour. Explore and  learn about the diverse and special...

Cost: Free

Where:
Various
Goshen, CT


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Anita Healy’s First Solo Show  “Breathe” June 3 through July 22 in Gunn Memorial Library Stairwell Gallery Reception June 17, 12p-2p Gunn Memorial Library...

Cost: Free

Where:
Gunn Memorial Library
5 Wykeham Road
Washington, CT  06793
View map »


Sponsor: Gunn Memorial Library
Telephone: 860-868-7586
Contact Name: Sharon A Morrissey
Website »

More information

The Litchfield Historical Society’s Saturday morning walking tours are exploring new sites in town. Each tour lasts about an hour—make sure to bring a bottle of water and wear comfortable...

Cost: Free for members; $5 non-members

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Megan Olver
Website »

More information

Heather Gaudio Fine Art is pleased to announce Charlie Hewitt.  Heart of Gold, a mixed media exhibition featuring paintings, works-on-paper, ceramics and sculpture.  The show will open...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Website »

More information

Sports and recreation are universal experiences. Whether we make it to the big leagues or never leave our backyards, these activities play important roles in our lives. They help us form...

Cost: Free!

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Megan Olver
Website »

More information

The Litchfield Historical Society is pleased to announce the opening of a new exhibit Thoughts, Words, and Deeds: Exploring the Litchfield Female Academy, on view April 22 through November 27, 2017...

Cost: Free!

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Megan Olver
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More information

    With summer just around the corner, Linda Mazzeo and other members of the ECAD team are busy planning all the fun activities for the kids, age 9-13, who will attend the annual Summer Camp...

Cost: $195.00 PER WEEK

Where:
ECAD Campus
149 Newfield Road
Winsted, CT  06790
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Sponsor: ECAD, Educated Canines Assisting with Disabilities
Telephone: (917) 664-8092
Contact Name: Patricia Robert
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