A Modern Farmstead


Bobby McAlpine went for a long walk one afternoon with Teresa and Myron Palmer. The architect and the homeowners ambled the four hundred acres of the Tennessee farm that had been in Myron Palmer’s family for generations. The three of them passed gravestones of Palmer’s distant ancestors who had worked the land, while taking in views of the green hills, the meadows. McAlpine saw—and sampled from—the fields growing with heirloom tomatoes and peppers, lettuces and beets, herbs and wheatgrasses, and other organic-certified crops.

Soon thereafter, architect McAlpine returned with drawings for the new home the Palmers wished to build on the land. “He brought us the plans, we took a look, and we changed nothing—inside or outside,” says Teresa Palmer. “It was the most pain-free design process I had ever been through.” While she would go on to furnish the three-bedroom house with a mix of antiques and decidedly modern pieces, the architecture and all other permanent parts of the structure are solely McAlpine’s designs. The finished house was akin, as McAlpine says, “to a church in the beautiful countryside. It has that kind of reverence.”

McAlpine is noted for his ability to foster contradictions, but in such ways that the oppositions harmonize. From the front elevation, for instance, the house he designed for the Palmers appears almost closed, restrained, with few windows, while on the opposite side, the multi-gabled residence appears wide open with carefully proportioned and positioned multi-paned expanses of glass. “I like to call this house style Modern American Gothic,” says McAlpine. “It’s a very edgy American farmhouse. The owners are very stylish people, and they loved the idea of crisp, austere, minimalist interiors. They wanted some big, thunderous design notes, but not too many.” Palmer echoes those sentiments by adding, “Bobby automatically knew I love modern, but that I didn’t want to go too modern on the farm.”

This story appeared in the Winter 2021 issue of MILIEU. To read the complete story or to see all photos, visit the MILIEU Newsstand to purchase this issue in print or visit Zinio.com to purchase this issue in digital format.