A modern take on America’s most classic structure.
A modern take on America’s most classic home style.
Asymbol of hard work and long-lasting traditions, the barn has long been a steady staple in the great American landscape. But take a look around online or on popular TV shows (think hit programs like Fixer Upper and Barn Hunters), and you’ll quickly
notice that what was once a style used only for housing livestock is now the inspiration behind homes, recreational retreats and even “barndominiums.” (Yes, that’s a barn-style condominium.) “The shape of a barn is so classic and familiar that it’s only natural we are drawn to them,” says Paul Baker, General Manager at Country Carpenters, Inc. in Hebron, Connecticut. “Plus, inside, the wide open spaces paired with the rough-sawn timbers is really warm and inviting.”
Barn structures can blend in with any geographical region, and, in size, they range from miniscule to monstrous. So, what ties them all together? Start with these five essential elements:
A Barn-Style Aesthetic. The exterior of a building instantly makes you recognize the style, and barn structures are no different. “Barns tend to include characteristics like exposed timber frames, large sliding doors and farmhouse-style lighting,” says Chris Skinner, Vice President of The Barn Yard & Great Country Garages in Ellington, Connecticut. As for the structure itself, most are rectangular in shape with a pitched roof, although gambrel roofs are also somewhat common. Cupolas or weathervanes often adorn the roofline of a barn or barn home. “These kinds of accents should be built to match the scale of the barn,” Baker adds.
2 Timber Construction. While not an essential element of barn design, timber-frame or post-and-beam construction is a popular choice for many of today’s barns. After all, the first thing you notice when you walk into a barn is the heavy beam work overhead. “There’s something about seeing those timbers and mortise-and-tenon joinery; it reminds us of where they came from,” says Baker. “That frame also creates the open floor plan that is so popular these days.”
3 Barn Windows & Doors. Many barn companies offer authentic-style window options, including designs with smaller glass panes incorporated into one larger sash. In barnstyle homes, these smaller windows are popular for ground-level bedrooms or bathrooms since they’re large enough to let in light, yet small enough to keep private rooms from being on full display to the outside.
“Doors are also a major focal point in these homes,” says Skinner, “whether the owners opt for authentic sliding doors or a split-slider door with hand-forged hinges and hardware.”
4 A “Great Room.” A great room is a space that almost always features cathedral ceilings for an impressive look, and whose function is to combine living spaces into one central location of the house. These types of spaces fit seamlessly within a barn-style structure. "It's no secret that open floor plans are very popular, and timbered ceilings offer that open feeling," says Skinner. "Hardly ever do we partition off interior walls in our barns. People want a space where everything flows together."
5 Customized Interioer. Depending on the size, a barn can be used as a pool house, garage, woodworking shop, yoga studio — you name it. Another popular option: the party barn, created as an inside-meets-outside recreational space.
Of course, a barn also can function as a living space as long as its insulated and built to code.