Gallery: PREFAB FRIDAY: Michelle Kaufmann’s mkHearth

sleeping porch & stairs of mkHearth
sleeping porch & stairs of mkHearth

We always love seeing hot designers come out with their next hit– and Michelle Kaufmann’s new mkHearth is the latest in must-have prefab design. The home pushes the principles of green building, as her previous green homes have always done, and combines it with some countryside nostalgia to produce a prefab farmhouse. Her new prefab is both contemporary and inviting, with a slightly more traditional aesthetic which will likely prove popular with the masses. Kaufmann is responsible for many advances in green building, as well as an updated gingerbread house. Although this house is larger than most of her other designs at 2,820 sq ft, it smartly fits many rooms into that area, and even provides some flexible space with a cozy and sunny loft.

With a simple, straightforward facade, high-pitched roof, and sliding barn doors, this 3-bedroom, modern farmhouse took inspiration from traditional rural architecture. The name, mkHearth, refers to the center of the home, the hearth, from which all activity revolves. The living room and fireplace reside at the center of the bottom floor, surrounded by stairs, kitchen, office and entry. Homey details are found in the additional spaces such as window seats, reading nooks, built-in storage and screened-in porches. A flexible, loft space located on the top floor can be used as an office, playroom, workshop, studio, media room, or even an extra bedroom.  We all wish we had such a snug loft to write our posts from!

As always, this Kaufmann prefab is designed to be sustainable, energy efficient, and low-maintenance. For minimal environmental impact and to create a healthy living space, the mkHearth includes high-performance insulation and mechanical systems, passive solar design (with proper orientation), dual pane low-E glazings, low-VOC paints and finishes, eco-friendly furnishings, solar pv options, water-conserving fixtures, and rainwater collection.

Kaufmann also hopes that someday these homes will be developed into a sustainable neighborhood. Check out the videos for a walk through of the homes.

+ Michelle Kaufmann Designs

+ Michelle Kaufmann Blog


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  1. antkm1 October 27, 2008 at 11:45 am

    I’ve been following Mk for some time since the debut of the MkLotus. I’ve also noticed a distinct similarity between this house and one of the alternative West Coast Green houses (design by the Lawrnece Group) (page 8 of this PDF).

    I’m not claiming anything here but i just find is a bit strange how similar these two house designs are. Mk’s version is a bit bigger and some of the spaces have been re-arranged but it’s essentially the same design. Here is the link to the LG design as well.

    So R2D2, if you want a smaller version of the MkHearth, just check out LG.

  2. dan October 26, 2008 at 2:46 pm

    dont know about you guys..
    but that room with the double bed in wich you cannot walk aorund it looks awful in blueprints.
    thats where you will put the son or the daughter you dont like?
    the nearby space does not have much natural light, so thata means..the owner will switch a lightbulb early in the afternoon. (very green,,.im impressed.)
    this is a luxury home and i can single out very basic design mistakes that will make this very difficult to market. (a lousy southamerican architect with only a few years of experience) ,


    single family houses are not green. remember that!

  3. The Revolution Corporation October 26, 2008 at 12:32 pm

    This is some of the best work I’ve seen Kaufmann do so far… See what happens when a designer looks outside of their back yard? Looks like she did her homework and referenced some Nordic architecture… Which is a good thing.
    These are *not* “farm houses”, though… LOL … A gable roof does not = farm house ; )
    The farm house *is* one of the best references for true ‘…form ever follows function’ though …
    So, I guess the only issue everyone will have with these (and rightfully so), is… 2820 SF for a three bedroom ???
    This house really wants to be two stories… The third floor is not necessary. My guess is that it’s an aesthetic/proportion thing… The house will look squat if it’s two stories.
    My guess is that – maybe not in the advertising, but at the end of the day – this is another $250/sf design, so… we’re talking +/- $700K !
    So, while the aesthetic is more digestible for the average Middle American, the cost is not.
    When (when when) will the Kaufmanns and Lazors and Marmol Radziners and Brad Pitts of this movement realize that systems-built housing is supposed to (at least I thought so) bring good (practical) modern design to the masses (without looking mass produced) ?!??

  4. R2D2 October 24, 2008 at 4:51 pm

    Beautiful house, like I’d design for myself. I agree with the previous comment though, a 2br version would be great. Maybe 1800-2000sqft.

    Sometimes I (out of envy) think of Kaufmann as a self promoting tart, but I have to appreciate that she’s doing more to make prefab and environmentally acceptable building a reality than almost anyone else. It seems the green media has created a celebrity and she’s proving they are right to promote her business.

    Another thought on prefabs like these is that they don’t have/accommodate basements. Basements make good storage, playrooms, etc. If people in urban settings buy expensive land to build on, they’re going to want (New Orleans exempt) basements or crawl spaces.

  5. theokobox October 24, 2008 at 8:32 am

    If the space was cut abomut half down or a little more, i would really like this design for myself. More space always means more resources, and way more to clean up!

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