If you want a spacious rustic abode with an airy yet cozy vibe, it is hard to go wrong with a barn home conversion. Over the past few years, barn conversions have become very popular around the world. In this post, we are going to share some barn conversion ideas and examples with you.
But first, let’s briefly discuss why barn homes are such a big deal.
What are the Benefits of Converted Barn Homes?
Rural charm. If you love all things bucolic, you will love the rustic look and feel of a converted barn house. The fact that the home was previously an actual working barn also adds authenticity.
Spacious, open floor plans. The space inside a barn is wide open, so if you want, you can keep that layout. You will appreciate how airy it is inside your home and how interconnected your living spaces are.
Flexibility. If you want, you can always partition the space inside a converted barn home, creating more privacy and a stronger division between rooms and their uses. In fact, a converted barn can even make a great shop house.
Increased property values. If you already own the land the barn is located on, just by converting it, you can raise the value of the property. If you have another home on the land, you could always convert the barn to serve as a workshop, man cave, guest house, or so forth.
Eco-friendly. There is no reason to let a structure fall into disrepair when you can improve it and give it many years of additional life. Just by making the decision to convert an old barn instead of neglect it, you are reducing waste and being environmentally-friendly.
Spectacular views. Barns usually are located in rural areas, which means that their surroundings are often picturesque, unobstructed by city life. When you convert a barn, you can take advantage of the tall sides and the open floor plans to put in huge windows to look out on those views. As a bonus, this also brings in tons of natural light. Having that natural light might even reduce your energy bills during the day.
Honor the history and spirit of a place. The barn you are converting may have stood on the property for decades. It could have a rich history behind it, as could the land itself. By now, the barn may feel like part of the landscape—like it belongs to the land. Converting it into a home is a wonderful way to respect that connection. And if by any chance you inherited the land and your forebears were farmers, you are also honoring their agrarian tradition by retaining and upgrading the barn.
5 Beautiful Barn Home Conversions to Inspire You
Now that you know the benefits of an old barn converted to a house, let’s take a look at some striking examples.
1. Canyon Barn by mwworks
Among the Cascades in Cashmere, Washington is the Canyon Barn by Seattle-based firm mwworks.
The barn dated back to the “turn of the century” (we presume the 20th). The architect used materials from the site itself wherever possible in refurbishing the barn and transforming it into a liveable space.
Other materials came from salvage yards.
Ultimately, the 3,875 square foot structure won an AIA Honor Awards for Washington 2013 Merit Award. The look is largely rustic thanks to the use of salvaged materials and some old-fashioned furnishings, but the open layout does contribute a hint of modernity.
Here is a striking barn home conversion by Specht Architects, commissioned by a couple to serve as their weekend retreat in Wilton, Connecticut. The property used to be a dairy farm. After a fire damaged the barn, the couple wanted to repair it and turn it into a liveable space.
The process of converting the barn involved making some structural changes to the space.
The architects write, “We restored the exterior volumes of the barn and silo to remain contextual with the other farm buildings on the site. At the same time, the design team radically restructured the interior of the barn, removing the entire second floor and adding exterior buttresses to create a free volume within. What was formerly the lower level of the barn is now the main social space of the house.”
The outside of the barn home still looks quite traditional, as was the plan. But stepping inside, the space is entirely modern. Specht Architects writes, “Simple and durable, yet elegant materials such as polished concrete, second-grade oak flooring, and maple plywood are used throughout. Interior and exterior connect visually through a wall of glass doors to the garden and fields beyond.”
In the main living area, you will notice some interesting architectural choices. The structure features a cathedral ceiling, but a set of slats runs horizontally across the ceiling at a lower level. So, the interior has a feeling of openness and airiness, but at the same time, the vertical space is not overwhelming.
What is also intriguing is the placement of the master bedroom. It is located inside that wood and glass “cube” that is in the middle of the main living space. Underneath the cube is the kitchen. So, the cooking space features a significantly lower ceiling than the main living/dining area.
The bedroom itself has a simple, elegant look. The wall is recessed behind the bed and above, where the slats add interest. A row of windows offers a view to the outdoors—and of course it is possible to look through the glass on the other side down into the rest of the home.
Something else we like is the metal piping forming the chimney for the fireplace. It extends up through the slats, drawing the eye upward to the full ceiling’s height. While the slats keep most of the focus down on the levels of the kitchen and bedroom, it is cool how the chimney serves as a continuous reminder of the vertical openness of the space.
Here you see a century-old barn that was converted into a lovely home for a couple in Quebec by La Firme. Originally, they actually just wanted the barn to serve as a guesthouse. But when they saw the result, they realized they wanted to live in it themselves full-time.
On its website, La Firme refers to the home as a “pastoral symphony” (in translation). The interior features a blend of open and closed spaces, offering the ideal balance of communal and private living. Large windows bring in natural light and offer incredible views of the rural surroundings. Exposed wood beams contrast with white interior siding to draw emphasis to the structure of the barn.
Fascinatingly, the barn originally was standing on another part of the property. The firm took it apart and then rebuilt it in a better spot. The goal, however, was for it to still be the same barn to as large a degree as possible. So, the team numbered all the hemlock siding pieces, noting where they belonged. When they rebuilt the structure, they put the pieces back where they came from.
We can characterize the interior style as “modern farmhouse.” Mixed in with the rustic elements are some modern touches, including light green cabinets and stainless steel appliances (these actually give us almost mid century vibes).
Another beautiful example of a barn with living quarters is this property belonging to Arnold P. and Elise Simon Goodman and designed by architect Preston Scott Cohen.
The home is situated on 164 acres of land. From its elevated location, it offers splendid views of the surrounding fields and trees.
Prior to buying the land, the clients had stayed in a converted barn home. They loved the experience, and wanted something like that for themselves.
Similar to the Quebec barn transformation project above, this one involved disassembling an existing barn and then rebuilding it on the site.
To Cohen, preserving the character and values of the barn while merging old and new was important. He explained that buildings such as barns “establish conventions that are rooted in social practices we can understand. Contemporary architecture can elaborate on that, so that the new is brought into a dialogue that has collective values embedded in it.”
The exterior of the structure features narrow cedar planks in gray. 48 windows in assorted shapes and sizes are dispersed in an unlikely configuration around the barn. Cohen noted the “free facade makes it impossible to identify how many levels there are, or even to tell the difference between a door and a window.”
As for the interior, it is characterized by wide open space, white walls, and contrasting exposed timbers. Cohen expressed it as a “pure tectonic experience of architecture.” You can read more about what he has to say in the linked article by Marc Kristal.
The house you see here is actually barn-inspired, rather than being a converted barn itself. But some of the materials in the home were reclaimed from an actual barn.
Owners Vincent Herbert and Laurence Verbeke purchased the house in Remsenburg, New York. Their friend, Francis D’Haene, happened to be an architect. The couple wanted their home to have a more minimalist vibe, so D’Haene set about transforming the barn-inspired home to suit their vision.
Originally, the home’s siding consisted of cedar planks. Since they were in poor condition, they replaced them. The siding on the home today came from a real 200-year-old barn in Canada. D’Haene also redid the home’s interior, replacing existing materials with more interesting ones and simplifying and streamlining the spaces to capture a modern minimalist look. White is the predominant color with red and pink as prominent accent colors.
Move Into Your Own Converted Barn House
Do you want to move into a barn home of your own? You can check listings for barn homes for sale, or even shop for a barn to convert yourself.
You also could consider building a barn-inspired home from the ground up.