Passion for old barns as exotic living spaces has exploded in recent years. It’s not difficult to see why old barns are so desirable. Barns with lofty volumes of space, aged timbers, and massive posts are the perfect choice for an addition to a house or a completely new repurposed living space with Americana charm, history, and mystery.
1. Finding the best barn candidate
Desirable barns will be those that have maintained the rough-hewn beams and posts of their 19th century origins. The rich patina, acquired through centuries of use, provide a magnetic appeal that harkens back to our pioneer heritage.
What is your vision? Will the barn structure be dismantled and moved to a new location? Will the barn and surrounding property become the new family home? Or, will the barn be re-sited on the property for a better panoramic view and more convenient access?
There are a growing number of resources available for barn renovators. Look for architects and contractors who have experience in barn renovations. This is a specialty where experience counts! Experienced barn contractors and builders will frequently have a extensive inventory of extra timbers and siding that is period perfect for 19th century structures.
2. Planning the interior space
People are drawn to old barns because of the open and lofty spaces they offer, often dwarfing even the largest great rooms in conventional houses. Dividing the space to allow for the necessary rooms of a home is a complex challenge. Consider what is needed in a typical modern home: great room, kitchen, bathrooms, laundry, bedrooms, family room, recreation room, and more.
Many barn renovation projects plan a great room at one end with a staircase or fireplace, bedrooms and bathrooms upstairs, kitchens and other common areas can fit under the loft. Successful floor plans will assign one third of the space for the great room or recreation room. Consider using walls of glass to extend the open feeling of first floor spaces. Add windows to the second story spaces that overlook the great room below.
3. Office space or living space
Barns can be an exciting opportunity for large offices. There is space to let your imagination run wild with a private working space for you, workstations for associates, private bathroom, conference room, and media viewing theater?
Plan ahead for media connections, local area networks, Wi-Fi communications, intercom, audio systems, or video surveillance while the new walls are open. Plan for future office growth also. Large areas of windows can bring the outdoor vistas inside and will make the office space seem larger.
4. Party barn or ultimate family room
Many renovations attach the barn to an existing house or structure to create a party barn or a cathedral like family room. Open timbers and exposed beams are impressive by themselves.
Adding a floor to ceiling wall of windows can open up the space even more. Hanging chandeliers at each end would provide dramatic interior lighting. The second story could incorporate guest rooms and private quiet areas for intimate personal lounging.
5. Create a car collector’s dream garage
Vintage car collectors, race car mechanics, or car enthusiasts can have a barn as the dream garage you have always wanted; a showroom for your car collection, with dramatic lighting, and a turntable for the prize of your collection. Barns with high volumes of space can accommodate powered car lifts to increase the collection capacity. Mechanics would have the room for a service area, and lounge areas. While the walls are open, run compressed air lines for air powered tools.