A Pair of English Barns Hide Unabashedly Bold and Budget-Friendly Minimalist Interiors

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By Iain Aitch / Published by Dwell
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.

A Pair of English Barns Hide Unabashedly Bold and Budget-Friendly Minimalist Interiors - Photo 1 of 14 - Tucked away in a corner of Norfolk County, England, this pair of barns—one new, one renovated—sit low in the vast countryside.

Tucked away in a corner of Norfolk County, England, this pair of barns—one new, one renovated—sit low in the vast countryside.

Stealth Mode
A Pair of English Barns Hide Unabashedly Bold and Budget-Friendly Minimalist Interiors - Photo 2 of 14 - "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."

"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."

Sitting next to Ochre Barn, this 800-square-foot black structure looks, from a distance, like it could be a tool shed or animal feed store. That is at least partially the idea. It’s only when you approach that the geometric structure reminds you of the shingle cottage where artist Derek Jarman made his home or the fisherman-hut-inspired work of the Glaswegian architecture firm NORD.

Turner, however, saw this part of the renovation as another chance to experiment. He sited the small barn on the foundation of a derelict outbuilding and imagined the space as a kind of blank canvas: ideal as a simple guest room, a studio, or even a rental.

"It only cost about $48,000 to build, which was incredibly cheap," says Turner. "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. We called it the Stealth Barn as it is slightly unsettling, like it is there and not there."

A Pair of English Barns Hide Unabashedly Bold and Budget-Friendly Minimalist Interiors - Photo 3 of 14 - The large windows are set back behind the brick facade allowing the residents to get an additional glimpse of the depth and detail of the original bricks.

The large windows are set back behind the brick facade allowing the residents to get an additional glimpse of the depth and detail of the original bricks.

A Pair of English Barns Hide Unabashedly Bold and Budget-Friendly Minimalist Interiors - Photo 4 of 14 - Long and low, the Ochre Barn began its life as a threshing barn in the 1850s.

Long and low, the Ochre Barn began its life as a threshing barn in the 1850s.

A Pair of English Barns Hide Unabashedly Bold and Budget-Friendly Minimalist Interiors - Photo 5 of 14 - 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.

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.

A Pair of English Barns Hide Unabashedly Bold and Budget-Friendly Minimalist Interiors - Photo 6 of 14 - A wire side chair by Harry Bertoia for Knoll sits outside the bathroom in the Stealth Barn.

A wire side chair by Harry Bertoia for Knoll sits outside the bathroom in the Stealth Barn.

A Pair of English Barns Hide Unabashedly Bold and Budget-Friendly Minimalist Interiors - Photo 7 of 14 - A picnic table in a matching hue to the Stealth Barn rests between the two structures.

A picnic table in a matching hue to the Stealth Barn rests between the two structures.

A Pair of English Barns Hide Unabashedly Bold and Budget-Friendly Minimalist Interiors - Photo 8 of 14 - At a fraction of the size of Ochre Barn, Stealth Barn is just one clear shot down the hall from the kitchen to the bedroom. OSB is an even stronger part of the interior here evoking bales of hay.

At a fraction of the size of Ochre Barn, Stealth Barn is just one clear shot down the hall from the kitchen to the bedroom. OSB is an even stronger part of the interior here evoking bales of hay.

A Pair of English Barns Hide Unabashedly Bold and Budget-Friendly Minimalist Interiors - Photo 9 of 14 - A row of Penguin Classics in the window casts an orange glow on the Stealth Barn's small OSB-clad living room outfitted with more custom furniture from Turner.

A row of Penguin Classics in the window casts an orange glow on the Stealth Barn's small OSB-clad living room outfitted with more custom furniture from Turner.

A Pair of English Barns Hide Unabashedly Bold and Budget-Friendly Minimalist Interiors - Photo 10 of 14 - The two structures are in constant dialogue. Not only are their forms in sympathy, but as they're set at right angles to one another, they are rarely out of view.

The two structures are in constant dialogue. Not only are their forms in sympathy, but as they're set at right angles to one another, they are rarely out of view.

A Pair of English Barns Hide Unabashedly Bold and Budget-Friendly Minimalist Interiors - Photo 11 of 14 - Carl Turner and Mary Martin pose on the porch of the Stealth Barn, a multipurpose structure that plays as a guest cottage, office space, and escape from whatever may be cooking at Ochre Barn.

Carl Turner and Mary Martin pose on the porch of the Stealth Barn, a multipurpose structure that plays as a guest cottage, office space, and escape from whatever may be cooking at Ochre Barn.

A Pair of English Barns Hide Unabashedly Bold and Budget-Friendly Minimalist Interiors - Photo 12 of 14 - Hard to imagine a more appealing (or friendly) guest room than this one in Ochre Barn.

Hard to imagine a more appealing (or friendly) guest room than this one in Ochre Barn.