A Rustic 19th-Century Hay Barn - Revived

There is so much to love about this rustic, 19th-Century hay barn renovation. Inside you'll find plenty of American and English antiques that give this reclaimed and repurposed home its look and feel. John Holland has always been drawn to barns, which he calls the centerpiece of pastoral living. Some of Holland's best childhood memories are being on the family farm, remembering summers on his grandparents’ western Massachusetts farm. So, when it came time to build a forever home for his young family, he knew it was going to be a barn. But not just any barn, it would be a preserved 19th-century barn from upstate New York’s Mohawk River Valley. One of the practical considerations for this barn renovation was that this barn was already built for heavy snow loads so he knew it could withstand the winters in Wyoming.

Inside you will find plenty of details that make this barn-style home so beautiful including a 1908 Edward S. Curtis photogravure copper printing plate titled Shot in Hand Absaroke which hangs in the main bedroom’s entryway, a welcoming rustic-meets-modern kitchen that has a large eat-at black walnut island, along with clean, minimalist cabinetry that was constructed in the Wilkinson-Montesano Builders’ cabinet shop. Other features at this stunning barn style home include the reclaimed oak floor that comes from an upstate New York warehouse, Barbara Berry pendants which provide a soft, warm light, the rectangular center bay with its 28-foot ceilings is open-plan.

Inside the home, you will also find a sycamore table (from Holland’s parents’ Nantucket home) which comfortably seats 10, a folk art totem known as a story pole that comes from a coastal tribe in Washington. There is also an antique English chest of drawers which is the first piece of furniture Holland's parents gave him. A stairway leads to second-floor bedrooms where you'll find the dormered owner’s bedroom with its natural wood ceiling. Basketweave tiles give the main bath a vintage look.

John Holland is the founder of Old Growth LLC, and the following are some of the tips and suggestions he offers on renovating on this scale. First, you'll want to decide if you’re planning to use the structure in its entirety as the bones of a new home build or want to reclaim individual elements of the structure to use as rustic accents in an existing home. If using the entire building, then you’ll want to figure out the building’s structural integrity. This means checking for dry rot in the beams or logs and is probably the most important task. An expert on log-and-timber homes or a good builder can help you with this step.

Embrace the history, nineteenth-century America had the most incredible natural resource with a wealth of virgin forests, densely filled with enormous trees. These structures were built by farmers and homesteaders using the building materials at hand. Design interior space creatively, the old structure will not be perfectly square or perfectly plumb. There will be irregularities in the overall design. There will be odd angles, so you'll want to fight any instincts to square things up.

More about this story can be found at: Eliot Goss Architect

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