Modern Wisconsin Barn House
Images © Werner Straube

Thistle Hill Farm: A Modern Wisconsin Barn Home by Northworks Architects

A well-designed structure often has a story to tell, and such is the case with Thistle Hill Farm, a unique Wisconsin barn home designed by Chicago firm Northworks Architects. Let’s learn more about this architectural firm and the stunning 4,500-square-foot property they built as a second home for a family of four.

About Northworks Architects

Modern Wisconsin Barn Home by northworks architects
Images © Werner Straube

If you have been looking for Chicago architecture firms for modern farmhouse cabins, Northworks Architects is worth considering. Headquartered in Chicago, this firm has offices in Jackson Hole, San Francisco, and Philadelphia.

On its website, the company explains its philosophy:

“Our belief in creating exceptional spaces regardless of architectural style has led to a diverse portfolio ranging from contemporary to historic preservation. Working on both residential and commercial projects, we handle site planning, construction management, building conditions analysis, and interior design services, including custom furnishings. With an in-depth consideration of environmental context and ingenuity for bridging the old with the new, we are re-imagining America’s structural character.”

You will see how this particular talent made the firm the ideal choice to handle the construction of Thistle Hill Farm.

Thistle Hill Farm is an Ode to the Past, With a Nod to the Future

thistle hill farm
Images © Werner Straube

Appreciating Thistle Hill Farm’s design starts with understanding its location and history. The home is situated on 200 acres of farmland in Western Wisconsin which have been in the client’s family for over two decades. The client loved the land, and cared about everything on it, including a dilapidated barn near a hilltop.

The barn could not be converted directly into a suitable home, because its condition was too deteriorated. But Northworks came up with a novel idea for repurposing the barn.

Milwaukee explains, “They had it carefully disassembled in a way that they could reuse the materials in the future. Bickford, of Northworks Architects and Planners, sited the new house just above where the old barn had stood, incorporating the remains of its limestone foundation walls around the pool. Meanwhile, the family made plans to use as much of the old structure as possible for future projects and in some of their furniture.”

Even though the home is technically a new structure, the goal was to have it resemble the traditional barn architecture of the area as much as possible. To that end, the exterior features a tin-coated copper roof and red cedar siding. Even the size and shape of the home (75 feet long x 26 feet wide) resemble the dimensions of the original dismantled structure.

The interior of the rural home is bright, open, and airy. Large glass doors and windows provide views of the Wisconsin countryside. To complement the limestone foundation, the hearth is also made of local limestone. Steel trusses are used on the exterior of the home, while Douglas fir trusses bring a rustic feel to the interior.

Furnishings are largely contemporary or Mid-Century Modern, while an artistic metal staircase offers an almost industrial feel, but actually was inspired by pigpen fencing, making it a fit for the agrarian motif of the home.

Another artistic element is the set of sliding barn doors that lead to the master suite from the upstairs catwalk. They actually are two halves of a huge, salvaged sign. Clearly visible from below, they essentially double as wall art.

All told, Northworks Architects did an incredible job with this project. They were able to help salvage and preserve parts of the past while creating a contemporary home in which the family can create many happy memories in the future. Every detail of the structure complements its setting on a working farm.

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