It seems I cannot escape from barns! Granted, I live in Vermont. However, there seems to be a resurgence in the romance of the barn. Old barns, new barns, “wedding barns”, working barns. There is a trending fascination with this agrarian building type. But let’s face it. Barns really are pretty cool.
My earliest barn memory is of the time when my next-oldest brother and I built enormous forts out of hay bales with the Shelley girls in the loft of the barn by their house. The experience had a magical impact. (Although that might have something to do with the “Spinning of the Bottle”!) Slivers of light shown through the cracks in the walls, forming razor-thin sheets as they illuminated the hay-dust suspended in the air. I can still see it today.
I designed my first recreational barn some ten years ago. It is a handsome structure, inspired by the ruins of a stone silo I came across not far from where I live. The owner wanted a retreat from his spectacular, if not precious home, where he could put his feet up, have a cigar and relax, while watching a game or playing pool. It is an elegant reaction to the concept of the “man cave”.
I recently designed a guest suite conversion of the hayloft in a modern horse barn. The final scheme was a study in contrasts. My client and I sourced and repurposed materials from a barn on her family’s soy bean farm, bringing both patina and provenance to lend warmth to the clean, modern design. HGTV recently sent a crew up to film this project for their show , “You Live in What?”
I am currently working on my second “wedding barn”. Apparently, city-dwellers are fascinated by the romantic idea of being betrothed near a manger. While the space and light are suggestive of a rural cathedral, the reality of donning one’s finest frocks amid the silage and manure of a working farm dose not jibe with the notion of a symbolically virginal espousal. Not to mention that the bacchanal banquets associated with these events require stealthily operating staff and support space.
Also on the boards these days, is a hybrid remodel of a fabulous horse barn. The program combines an apartment for a family of four, and offices for a farm manager, as well as stalls and associated areas for up to four horses. And while the family is delighted to live in “the Hayloft”, there is a need to bring some of the comfort, scale, and refinement of home to the project.
Having spent the better times of my childhood in the company of horses, I think I will always love a good barn.