Subverting the traditional, conservatively cozy British barn conversion, Carl Turner created a getaway in rural Norfolk for himself and his friends to visit, repose, and consider the beauty of agrarian minimalism.
By reversing his original OSB cabinet design, which opens onto the kitchen, Turner was able to build vast storage areas for food and crockery. You may have to nip around back to find the Cheerios, but all you see from the rest of the space is a wall of OSB.
The beautiful latticework of metal and wood is over 150 years old and proved costly to strengthen after the damage done by a long-forgotten bash from some farm machinery. Add in the cost of the walls that had to be rebuilt, having the purlins repaired, and tripling the thickness of the wooden trusses, and by the time the scaffolding was down, the pair had laid out $190,000.
Made from pressed tree chippings and resin, oriented strand board is strong and durable and makes a bold design statement. The sheer level of agricultural chic at the Ochre Barn is probably a bit much for most interiors, but the material did come cheap: Turner bought eight-by-four-foot panels of OSB for as little as $24 apiece.
Turner reclaimed most of the timber used for the flooring as he renovated buildings in London. He thought his stockpile was big enough for the Ochre Barn, but the scale of the place defeated him. The solution, surprisingly, was eBay, turning up an old mill’s worth of boards.
Construction-site offcuts comprise the 20-seat table, which Turner made from a birch-core black phenolic-faced plywood, a waterproof material more commonly used to form concrete. The film-coated ply from UK supplier James Latham comes cheap, making it ideal for this kind of experimentation.
The main public space of Ochre Barn is broken up by a full-height OSB pod, which contains a bathroom and a utility room with a view. Up top is the crow’s nest, where Turner can survey his creation and answer any stray emails. Though the bench table, daybed, and outdoor spaces afford plenty of room for the couple to work away from the hubbub of weekend guests, the top of the pod offers dedicated office space.
"It only cost about $48,000 to build, which was incredibly cheap," says Turner of the Stealth Barn. "We got the Timber Frame Company to supply the shell, then we clad it and fitted out the interior and windows ourselves. The idea was to take the archetypal black tar-painted agricultural building and make an almost childlike icon of that."
For a bit of elevation in the overwhelmingly horizontal compound, step onto the deck of the Stealth Barn. A strip of mowed grass delineates a path between the two structures; otherwise the grasses grow wild.