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homify 360º: a German farmhouse restoration

Sheila Byers Sheila Byers
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The Munich-based architect Klaus Heidenreich has a lot of experience with the rehabilitation of historic buildings. Today we look at his careful restoration and renovation of a large historic farmhouse in Germany. At the time of purchase, this old farmhouse was rather rundown. It had no foundation and stood directly on the ground so that moisture crept up the walls from below. As a result, the whole upper part of the house was in very poor condition and quick action was urgently needed in order to avoid even greater damage. In addition to the visible damage, there were further defects as a result of the building’s great age. The architect faced the delicate task and helped to make the building the stunning home it is today.


  by heidenreich architektur
heidenreich architektur

Fassade gartenseitig vor Sanierung

heidenreich architektur

The idyllic scene of a rural home can be seen in this photograph as the farmhouse peaks out between the fruit trees. One can certainly understand why the homeowner fell in love with this historic building. At the beginning, the owners wanted to use the farmhouse only as a weekend home, almost as a rural retreat to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Ultimately, however, they decided to move to the country and live full time in the farmhouse. The former city dwellers are now well integrated into the village community.


 Houses by heidenreich architektur
heidenreich architektur

Fassade gartenseitig nach Sanierung

heidenreich architektur

The important goal in the renovation was not to erase the traces of the past, but to bring the historical elements to the forefront of the design. At the same time, the interior of the house should reflect all the present day advances without ignoring the former charm. The proposed plan also convinced the heritage authority, so that the cooperation proved to be particularly straightforward.

A new roof

 Houses by heidenreich architektur
heidenreich architektur

Fassade strassenseitig

heidenreich architektur

Here we see the new roof that was added to the farmhouse. It is now covered with bright red plain tiles. Although the roof has been updated, it was not straightened in order to preserve its former character. The tiles are of a variety said to have originated in the 14th century in the clay pits around Nuremberg. The walls of the house have been plastered with a natural stone that is blended with cement, among other elements, and used for facade design.

The windows

Farmhouses are known to have small window openings that do not allow a great deal of natural light to flow into the interior of the house. However, since there are many windows in the façade, the interior light remains generous. The builders retained the original windows whenever possible, only replacing what they had to.  The original shutters were also kept, but their colour was changed from the older green into a bright gray that looks much more contemporary.

The interior

The house offers a generous 160 square feet of living space, plus a loft with a development reserve of about 120 square meters. The owner kept the original layout of the rooms in the old farmhouse. The ground floor holds a small living room, a dining room and a kitchen. Upstairs is the bedroom of the residents and their library.  The interior presents itself as very cosy, a look that is achieved through details like the honey-coloured wooden floors, the exposed beams and the charming irregularities of the walls. The wood stove promises homey warmth on cold evenings.

Former pigsty

In the location of the former pigsty, a new wing has been added. Here, the ground floor houses a guest bathroom and utility rooms. Upstairs is another bedroom and bathroom. Since no other windows were installed in order to retain the original wall structure, the designers had to come up with a clever lighting solution. The open structure allows lots of natural light to pass up from the ground floor to the next level.

Structural changes

Farmhouses are not known for their great ceiling height, and this building was no exception. Although low ceilings can be quite charming and homey to some degree, they can also be a bit of a hindrance given the taller heights of people today. Using a special trick, the architect reached a height of 2.35 meters after the renovation. The ceiling beams were exposed and cleaned to create a much roomier space. Another structural change was the addition of an insulating base plate. Overall, however, this is a farmhouse that managed to retain much of its original charm and structure while still transforming into a modern home.

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