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Tidbits – Beyond the Frame: Discovering Timber Frame Styles

New Energy Works timber frame styles
Architect: Holmes King Kallquist & Associates, Architects | Builder: Kevin Rich Construction | Timber frame: New Energy Works | Photo: Don Cochran Photography

When you describe a timber frame home to your friends, what do they immediately picture? We all know what those unfamiliar with the craft see in their minds eye: a log cabin. But ask Mike Beganyi, a designer who works with New Energy Works, and a world of beauty and diverse design appears. In a recent article in New England Home, Mr. Beganyi sketches a brief overview of the different timber frame styles being built today, including traditional, “lyrical,” contemporary, modern-style, and shingle style.

Traditional timber frame homes are, perhaps, a timber framer’s timber frame: the frame is on display throughout the house, and you can often count the pegs and examine the infrastructure of the home in close detail, even after the house is complete. Mr. Beganyi notes that “the structure of the home itself becomes a sculptural element.”

New Energy Works searched for its own name for homes that are evocative of the halls and forests of medieval Europe, and settled on “lyrical.” With soaring arches and curves constructed using glulam that is often fabricated by the New Energy Works team, the lyrical style also incorporates stone into the design, and each home is enhanced with stones uniquely suited to the design.

Contemporary homes are in many ways the polar opposite of traditional timber frames. They are simple but sleek, and often demand a higher-quality wood to ensure a smooth finish. The style tends to be spartan, and many homeowners choose an “industrial” look for their decorative hardware to remain consistent with the style. Mr. Beganyi says also that the roof pitches tend to be far shallower than those we see on a traditional home, and the style lends itself to expansive open floor plans perhaps more than any other type of timber frame.

Modern-style homes are hiding a beautiful secret: they may not appear to be timber frames at all from the outside! However, walk through the door and discover a celebration of traditional wood joinery. The spare frames feature smooth-planed beams (though checks add warmth, and a reminder that these timbers are indeed “of the earth”) and minimal to no bracing or struts. The article notes that the frames, in their simplicity, bring to mind ancient Japanese temples and old barns.

If you’ve traveled in the Adirondacks or visited the Rockies, you’ve likely seen (or stayed in) a shingle style home. These homes marry the grandeur of the lyrical style with the Craftsman sensibilities emergent at the turn of the 20th century. The timbers are frequently painted in earth tones, cedar shingles are added, and stone pillars and other Craftsman features are incorporated to best display the beautiful craftwork done by the builder.

Discover these beautiful timber frame styles by clicking below.

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