South­ern Charm

A de­signer em­ploys traces of her fam­ily’s past in her home, while stay­ing true to her mod­ernist heart.

Modern Farmhouse Style - - Table Of Contents -

a rented 27-foot truck gin­gerly un­der Sa­van­nah’s fa­mous and his­toric live oak trees. The truck was loaded with salvaged wood she had driven sev­eral hours to re­trieve. “I now have a re­ally good un­der­stand­ing of just how tall 12 feet is!” she says.

The ex­pe­ri­ence was well worth it. The price­less tim­ber in the back of the truck was des­tined for the house Laura Lee was build­ing with her hus­band, John, out­side Sa­van­nah in a planned com­mu­nity called The Ford Plan­ta­tion. She had re­claimed it from her great-great­grand­fa­ther’s home­stead in Oconee County, Ge­or­gia. “He walked home from Vir­ginia when the Civil War ended and built a house by hand,” she says. Retriev­ing and re­fin­ish­ing the wood was a mon­u­men­tal—and pricey—ef­fort. “John jokes that this is the most ex­pen­sive free wood we’ve ever paid for,” Laura Lee says with a laugh. Af­ter re­mov­ing ev­ery nail from the boards, she had them run through a planer to re­move most, but not all, of the an­cient paint. The re­sult: gor­geous, tex­ture-rich ceil­ings above her din­ing and break­fast tables.

Other salvaged ma­te­ri­als con­tribute touches of rus­tic char­ac­ter to the new home: The floors in the din­ing room are made from his­toric Sa­van­nah gray brick, and heart pine beams over­head came from old ware­houses. “I guess I’m just a scav­enger,” Laura Lee says. These rus­tic sur­faces are jux­ta­posed with sim­ple white walls and blunt trim mold­ing, as well as a mix­ture of clean-lined con­tem­po­rary and tra­di­tional fur­nish­ings placed in spare, un­clut­tered group­ings. The 12-foot ceil­ings and ex­pan­sive 9×4-foot win­dows give the house an airy, loft­like feel. “I wanted to make a mod­ern farm­house. I did not want this to feel like a coun­try house,” she says.

A South­erner with deep roots, Laura Lee loves the his­tory of her re­gion. The tabby con­crete over her man­tel is based on pre-civil War build­ings on nearby Oss­abaw Is­land. Framed by square col­umns, the iconic treat­ment, above a seam­lessly plas­tered fire­box sur­round, has a con­tem­po­rary sen­si­bil­ity. “I wanted some char­ac­ter and tex­ture,” she says, “but I’m a mod­ernist at heart.”

op­po­site: Laura Lee’s blend of mod­ern and tra­di­tional style is on dis­play in the liv­ing room, where a for­mal oil paint­ing of hus­band John’s fa­ther has pride-of-place on the tabby sur­face over the man­tel. Laura Lee used 1970s Lucite stands from her mother-in-law’s New York City apart­ment to make a con­sole ta­ble. above: Salvaged ma­te­ri­als are in­cor­po­rated in the ar­chi­tec­ture; here, ware­house beams frame open­ings. The cane bench is a fam­ily heir­loom.

“Oh, this is fun,”de­signer Laura Lee Sam­ford thought as she drove

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