Fresh Farmhouse

When Atlanta builder Patrick Sheehan crafted his family’s forever home, he teamed up with Harrison Design to create a modern farmhouse that’s beaming with natural materials, rustic finishes and contemporary ideas that are anything but stark

Patrick Sheehan wasn’t in the market for a new home in 2014. But building is in the blood of the acclaimed Atlanta contractor and owner of Sheehan Built Homes, so when the perfect corner lot became available in his Sandy Springs neighborhood, Patrick did what any man would do: He asked his wife.

“I called Wendy and asked her to lunch, and, without missing a beat, she asked what I wanted,” he laughs. “We’d built a modern ranch with rustic warm woods in the neighborhood a couple of years earlier, but when this corner lot went back on the market, I looked at it for clients. After walking the lot three times, a lightbulb went off. I thought, ‘Geez—this would be great for our family.’ ”

With Wendy, children Ryder (8) and Colbie (4), and golden retrievers Burton and Roscoe on board, Patrick collaborated with architect William “Bill” Harrison, AIA, and designer Frank Heery of Harrison Design to create a modern farmhouse. “This project’s style is more vernacular, rustic and modern, boasting a warm, cabinlike feel but cleaned up with elegant lines,” says Harrison. “Many elements nod to the rustic feel of a warehouse, like exposed beams, modern steel windows and the open floor plan.”

Harrison and Heery note that the sense of balance is very strong throughout the home, even though it isn’t symmetrical. “It’s almost like a symphony decided to mix in some pop music,” says Harrison. “We reconfigured and invigorated elements seen in traditional Atlanta homes.”

To prevent the home from feeling stark, Patrick incorporated five species of wood throughout to add warmth, including hickory floors, African mahogany cabinets and shelving, cypress ceilings, white cedar and knotty poplar.

Interior designer Janie Wilburn of The Jane Group loved the nontraditional components of the project. She has worked with Patrick on nearly 15 homes, but unlike most of their collaborations, this farmhouse was less about fabrics, furnishings and fixtures and more about materials and finishes.

“The interior was dictated by the architecture. It was both minimalist and functional, so we softened the interior with finishes on the materials that felt authentic and added warmth to space,” says Wilburn. “For example, for the steel finishes in the kitchen, we added a patina to the raw, new steel to add some age and warmth.”

Another design decision was the placement of the television. Patrick prefers art over a screen as the focal point above the grand limestone fireplace. But with large windows and limited vertical real estate, his options were limited. Heery proposed creating a floating wall that could also introduce a spot for a butler’s pantry, bar and custom 200-bottle wine rack, adding another layer to the open floor plan without losing the streamlined, ranch-style visual of the main room.

This attention to detail was pivotal throughout the home. From the custom industrial light fixture above the dining table (designed and assembled by Patrick) to the exterior’s classic board-and-batten juxtaposed with modern metal details, every inch of the project was designed to accommodate the family and, in some cases, their four-legged companions.

For the Sheehans’ two dogs, who swim every day in the outdoor oasis-style pool designed by J. Brownlee Design in Nashville, a designated wash station was placed right off the foyer. But this isn’t your run-of-the-mill mudroom. After Patrick and Wilburn’s search for hexagonal slate tiles came up short, Patrick designed his own by cutting the patterns for both the mudroom and foyer floors on site from 12-inch square tiles—a sleek but highly functional option for the well-trafficked areas.

From the tiles to the timbers, the Sheehan family home is a modern marvel; it feels warm and inviting without the weight of stuffy furnishings or ornate, over-the-top details. “So much of Atlanta is traditional two-story homes, many of which I’ve built. But there’s a trend now for this pared-down, ranch-style living,” says Patrick. “That was the catalyst for the project.”

BUILDER Patrick Sheehan, Sheehan Built Homes (770) 329-5431; ARCHITECT William Harrison and Frank Heery, Harrison Design (404) 365-7760; INTERIOR DESIGN Janie Wilburn, The Jane Group (404) 323-0636;