8 Barn Houses For Modern Living

Rooted in the past yet decidedly in the present, these converted barns embrace their history, but take on a modern twist.
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Rescued from ruin, these outdated barns have taken on new life as modern homes, community hubs, and art studios. Take a peek at some of our favorite pastoral abodes that fuse functionality with the comfort of modern amenities.

1. Passive House and "Sauna Tower" Join a 19th-Century Barn in Hudson Valley, New York

Two hours north of New York City, an unusual barn emerges from a hill just off a country road. Its black siding and bright-red window frames hint at the imaginative playground inside. This space, with its rope-railed catwalk and indoor tent, is just one element of the multifaceted getaway architecture and design firm BarlisWedlick Architects designed for fund manager Ian Hague.

This beautiful property has an impressively rich history. Built in 1839, the buildings were used as a fort, watch point and jail house, while some brick and concrete bunkers on the property date back to WWI. The clients hired the Govaert & Vanhoutte studio to transform Farmhouse Burkeldijk into a modern living space and a bed and breakfast hotel with the goal to maintain the heritage of the site intact and find a balance between the two time periods at the same time.  

Though the lofty space that Hannah Smith and Jeremy Witt call home is a converted barn, it’s not hard to imagine it as a cathedral when you’re inside, thanks to its grand proportions, soaring ceiling, and cruciform plan. Originally the farm of a nearby estate, which fell victim to a fire in the 1950s, the abandoned barn was transformed into a contemporary home by David Nossiter Architects, who had also renovated the clients’ townhouse in Colchester, Essex. 

Architect Preston Scott Cohen resurrected an early 1800s barn as a vacation home for a literary couple and their family, calling to mind both the agrarian spaciousness of the structure’s former life and the vernacular of its new function as a house. Transcending both, Cohen created a piece of architecture that is at once porous and opaque, familiar yet otherworldly.

In 2006, Dirk Wynants, owner of the outdoor furniture company Extremis, purchased a circa-1850s farmhouse in Poperinge, a municipality in the Flanders region of Belgium. He spent the next seven years updating it, while staying within the area’s stringent preservation codes.

Lone and Søren Asmusson moved into Posehuset Studio, their country estate outside of Copenhagen, only a few years ago, intending to use the space as a home-cum-art studio. Before long, however, their artistic endeavours expanded beyond the dedicated music studio and artist workrooms inside their home and began encroaching upon their living space. The couple turned to the barn adjacent to their farmhouse, and with the help of the VELUX Group in Denmark, remodeled the existing building into a multi-purpose artists’ workspace.

At Powisset Farm, a 106-acre swath of land that has been cultivated for some three centuries, it’s also about striking the right mix of tradition and technology. Previously owned by Boston Brahmin Amelia Peabody, the farm is now a model of the Community Supported Agriculture movement, provisioning more than 300 member families with fresh fruit and vegetables. In 2014, the land preservation group Trustees of Reservations, which owns Powisset, embarked on a re-novation of its century-old barn, adding a net-positive teaching kitchen and building the lower level into a root cellar. "It was a drafty New England barn with old wood floors, single-pane windows, and doors that didn’t close well," recalls architect Stephanie Horowitz of Boston’s ZeroEnergy Design, the firm hired to reimagine the structure.

When Hannah and Paul Catlett first pulled up to a three-acre chunk of rolling hillside outside Springfield, Missouri, things didn’t look promising. A crumbling old ranch-style house stood caving in on itself, and the land didn’t seem like anything special, either. But when the Catletts saw the sweeping view of the Ozarks from the back door, everything changed. "We walked out and we had a euphoric feeling," Paul remembers. "It was like: ‘Oh, my God. This is it.’" They closed on the property a week later, and in short order had the ranch house razed and its lumber sent off to an Amish community for chicken coops.


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