18 Brilliant Barn Conversions That Merge Past and Present

Despite their humble origins, these converted barns are anything but ordinary.
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Adaptive reuse projects that reclaim and transform old buildings are often sustainable in their repurposing, but they also have a patina and history that makes them hugely evocative. Read on as we go through some of our favorite barn conversion projects.

A New England Farm Is Reborn as a Community Hub

Situated on a 106-acre swath of land in Dover, Massachusetts, Powisset Farm provisions more than 300 member families with fresh fruit and vegetables. In 2014, the land preservation group Trustees of Reservations renovated the 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. Today, the state-of-the-art kitchen hosts public classes on everything from jam-making to food security.

Situated on a 106-acre swath of land in Dover, Massachusetts, Powisset Farm provisions more than 300 member families with fresh fruit and vegetables. In 2014, the land preservation group Trustees of Reservations renovated the 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. Today, the state-of-the-art kitchen hosts public classes on everything from jam-making to food security.

In 2006, Dirk Wynants, owner of the outdoor furniture company Extremis, purchased an 1850s farmhouse in Poperinge, a municipality in the Flanders region of Belgium. He spent the next seven years updating the structure to serve as a full-time residence for his family of five, all while staying within the area’s stringent preservation codes. The house features two separate guest apartments downstairs. "If you want to respect the old, the contrast should be brutal," Wynants says. "I want to be very clear what is old and what is new."

In 2006, Dirk Wynants, owner of the outdoor furniture company Extremis, purchased an 1850s farmhouse in Poperinge, a municipality in the Flanders region of Belgium. He spent the next seven years updating the structure to serve as a full-time residence for his family of five, all while staying within the area’s stringent preservation codes. The house features two separate guest apartments downstairs. "If you want to respect the old, the contrast should be brutal," Wynants says. "I want to be very clear what is old and what is new."

The eponymous founder of London firm Carl Turner Architects transformed a barn in Norfolk, England, into a rural getaway inspired by the form of the original structure. Turner reclaimed most of the timber used for the floors from the firm’s renovations of buildings in London. Oriented strand board (OSB) was also used to create furniture, walls, and other features within the home. 

The eponymous founder of London firm Carl Turner Architects transformed a barn in Norfolk, England, into a rural getaway inspired by the form of the original structure. Turner reclaimed most of the timber used for the floors from the firm’s renovations of buildings in London. Oriented strand board (OSB) was also used to create furniture, walls, and other features within the home. 

Govaert & Vanhoutte Architects transformed a group of 19th-century buildings formerly used as bunkers and barns into a family home with an attached bed and breakfast in West Flanders, Belgium. A subterranean concrete passage connects the wood-clad wing, which is home to the private living spaces, to the former barn with the renovated guest rooms.

Govaert & Vanhoutte Architects transformed a group of 19th-century buildings formerly used as bunkers and barns into a family home with an attached bed and breakfast in West Flanders, Belgium. A subterranean concrete passage connects the wood-clad wing, which is home to the private living spaces, to the former barn with the renovated guest rooms.

The Great Barn is a heritage family home set within the greenbelt and conservation area of Beaconsfield Old Town in Buckinghamshire, England. Gresford Architects restored and redesigned the former barn using the original timber structure to frame the home in a way that enhances the historic essence of the building. 

The Great Barn is a heritage family home set within the greenbelt and conservation area of Beaconsfield Old Town in Buckinghamshire, England. Gresford Architects restored and redesigned the former barn using the original timber structure to frame the home in a way that enhances the historic essence of the building. 

Architect Lee de Wit worked with his relatives to create a family getaway in his grandfather’s old farmhouse northwest of Johannesburg. The original barn became the footprint for the renovated kitchen and living space. The kitchen island is anchored by massive boulders sourced on-site, and the walls and ceiling are clad with wood from fallen logs found on the property.  "We gave ourselves the task of reusing every available material possible," says the architect.

Architect Lee de Wit worked with his relatives to create a family getaway in his grandfather’s old farmhouse northwest of Johannesburg. The original barn became the footprint for the renovated kitchen and living space. The kitchen island is anchored by massive boulders sourced on-site, and the walls and ceiling are clad with wood from fallen logs found on the property. "We gave ourselves the task of reusing every available material possible," says the architect.

In the Bohinj Valley, an area in northwestern Slovenia surrounded by the Julian Alps, local firm OFIS arhitekti transformed an old cattle barn into a 1,507-square-foot family retreat. While the original exterior composed of a rugged stone base with a timber-truss framework and wooden walls was kept intact, the architects built a new internal wooden shell using locally milled spruce to freshen up the interiors. 

In the Bohinj Valley, an area in northwestern Slovenia surrounded by the Julian Alps, local firm OFIS arhitekti transformed an old cattle barn into a 1,507-square-foot family retreat. While the original exterior composed of a rugged stone base with a timber-truss framework and wooden walls was kept intact, the architects built a new internal wooden shell using locally milled spruce to freshen up the interiors. 

Designer Ralph Germann inserted a partially glazed box into a 19th-century barn to form the main living space of Christine Bonvin’s home in Switzerland, which has been in her family for four generations. Soft light enters through original arrow-loop windows. Throughout the space, contrasting elements pay tribute to the spirit of the barn. The raw stone, visible through the interior’s glass walls, is tempered by the warmth of the century-old larch wood, which was salvaged from the original side wing and taken to a carpentry workshop in the mountains to dry before being reconfigured into furniture and kitchen fixtures. 

Designer Ralph Germann inserted a partially glazed box into a 19th-century barn to form the main living space of Christine Bonvin’s home in Switzerland, which has been in her family for four generations. Soft light enters through original arrow-loop windows. Throughout the space, contrasting elements pay tribute to the spirit of the barn. The raw stone, visible through the interior’s glass walls, is tempered by the warmth of the century-old larch wood, which was salvaged from the original side wing and taken to a carpentry workshop in the mountains to dry before being reconfigured into furniture and kitchen fixtures. 

David Nossiter Architects transformed a crumbling barn complex in Sussex, England, into a full-time residence comprised of farm buildings laid out in a cruciform plan with a courtyard in the middle. With cathedral-like proportions, the converted building is complete with exposed brick walls and wood rafters from the original structure. The concrete worktops and sinks in the minimalist kitchen were designed by the homeowners.

David Nossiter Architects transformed a crumbling barn complex in Sussex, England, into a full-time residence comprised of farm buildings laid out in a cruciform plan with a courtyard in the middle. With cathedral-like proportions, the converted building is complete with exposed brick walls and wood rafters from the original structure. The concrete worktops and sinks in the minimalist kitchen were designed by the homeowners.

British furniture designers Russell Pinch and Oona Bannon kept many of the original details of the 300-year-old cow barn they turned into their second home in Charente-Maritime, France—including its terra-cotta roof tiles. The primary structural change took place on the front facade, which they tore down and rebuilt, opening space for a traditional oeil-de-boeuf window.  

British furniture designers Russell Pinch and Oona Bannon kept many of the original details of the 300-year-old cow barn they turned into their second home in Charente-Maritime, France—including its terra-cotta roof tiles. The primary structural change took place on the front facade, which they tore down and rebuilt, opening space for a traditional oeil-de-boeuf window.  

A gray Moreau sofa and Willo table from the couple’s furniture line, Pinch, are paired with vintage yellow side tables near the Saey fireplace in the living room. The couple laid some 20,000 pieces of reclaimed oak to create the floor’s herringbone pattern.

A gray Moreau sofa and Willo table from the couple’s furniture line, Pinch, are paired with vintage yellow side tables near the Saey fireplace in the living room. The couple laid some 20,000 pieces of reclaimed oak to create the floor’s herringbone pattern.

Architect Preston Scott Cohen resurrected an early 1800s barn as a vacation home for literary couple Elise and Arnold Goodman and their family. The exterior boasts 48 windows that subtly reveal the new steel structure supporting the house. "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," says the architect.  

Architect Preston Scott Cohen resurrected an early 1800s barn as a vacation home for literary couple Elise and Arnold Goodman and their family. The exterior boasts 48 windows that subtly reveal the new steel structure supporting the house. "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," says the architect.  

The interior calls to mind both the agrarian spaciousness of the structure’s former life and the vernacular of its new residential function. In keeping with the Goodmans’ desire for enough subdivision in the home to establish rooms to sleep and work in, Cohen inserted a two-story volume into one of the barn frame’s side aisles. An additional mezzanine over the kitchen serves as a play area for the grandchildren.

The interior calls to mind both the agrarian spaciousness of the structure’s former life and the vernacular of its new residential function. In keeping with the Goodmans’ desire for enough subdivision in the home to establish rooms to sleep and work in, Cohen inserted a two-story volume into one of the barn frame’s side aisles. An additional mezzanine over the kitchen serves as a play area for the grandchildren.

Christian Élie and Marie Guillemette called in Hilaire Gagné, a company that specializes in moving and restoring buildings, to rescue a barely standing 100-year-old barn located in the back of a farm they bought in Mansonville, Quebec. A wood bridge leads to the second-floor entry of the 4,500-square-foot converted residence. The cladding is local hemlock spruce—the same type of wood used to build the original barn.

Christian Élie and Marie Guillemette called in Hilaire Gagné, a company that specializes in moving and restoring buildings, to rescue a barely standing 100-year-old barn located in the back of a farm they bought in Mansonville, Quebec. A wood bridge leads to the second-floor entry of the 4,500-square-foot converted residence. The cladding is local hemlock spruce—the same type of wood used to build the original barn.

A grand space greets visitors when they first enter the home. The living room and kitchen are tucked on either side of a central dining area, which features a 35-foot-high wall of glass. Timber beams from the original barn were repurposed throughout. 

A grand space greets visitors when they first enter the home. The living room and kitchen are tucked on either side of a central dining area, which features a 35-foot-high wall of glass. Timber beams from the original barn were repurposed throughout. 

Swedish architect Karin Matz and Italian architect Francesco Di Gregorio remodeled a former hay storage barn into a cozy rental apartment on the island of Föhr on the German coast of the North Sea. 

Swedish architect Karin Matz and Italian architect Francesco Di Gregorio remodeled a former hay storage barn into a cozy rental apartment on the island of Föhr on the German coast of the North Sea. 

The duo covered the interior walls with 3,200 ceramic tiles used in traditional Frisian homes. Each of the tiles has a hand-drilled hole that reveals the blue-colored paint of the cement underneath it. The same shade of blue is used for the polypropylene ropes employed as staircase rails, which add to the maritime feel of the converted unit.

The duo covered the interior walls with 3,200 ceramic tiles used in traditional Frisian homes. Each of the tiles has a hand-drilled hole that reveals the blue-colored paint of the cement underneath it. The same shade of blue is used for the polypropylene ropes employed as staircase rails, which add to the maritime feel of the converted unit.

Two hours north of New York City, BarlisWedlick Architects designed an eclectic compound for fund manager Ian Hague with a shou sugi ban main house, a green-roofed garage, and a 19th-century barn brought in from a nearby farm that was reimagined as a hub for entertaining. 

Two hours north of New York City, BarlisWedlick Architects designed an eclectic compound for fund manager Ian Hague with a shou sugi ban main house, a green-roofed garage, and a 19th-century barn brought in from a nearby farm that was reimagined as a hub for entertaining. 

Using technology to design a home as energy-efficient as possible was a priority for Hague, both from a financial and philosophical standpoint. Along with Passive House certification for the main house, a solar array on the roof of the barn keeps energy use near zero. In fact, the entire property was Net Zero before the addition of the pool, and it may soon generate an energy surplus with the addition of a second solar array at the main house.

Using technology to design a home as energy-efficient as possible was a priority for Hague, both from a financial and philosophical standpoint. Along with Passive House certification for the main house, a solar array on the roof of the barn keeps energy use near zero. In fact, the entire property was Net Zero before the addition of the pool, and it may soon generate an energy surplus with the addition of a second solar array at the main house.

At the foot of the Western Carpathians in the Czech Republic sits an inviting, two-story holiday home that dates back to the 1800s. Known as Mezi Lukami—which is Czech for "between meadows"—the historic barn was restored by Czech designer Daniela Hradilová and her partner, Petr Hradil, to serve as the fifth guesthouse for their nearby boutique hotel, Mezi Plutky.

At the foot of the Western Carpathians in the Czech Republic sits an inviting, two-story holiday home that dates back to the 1800s. Known as Mezi Lukami—which is Czech for "between meadows"—the historic barn was restored by Czech designer Daniela Hradilová and her partner, Petr Hradil, to serve as the fifth guesthouse for their nearby boutique hotel, Mezi Plutky.

The dining area is located in what used to be the passageway between the house and the barn. A Moon luminaire by designer Davide Groppi hangs above the table, with tall, sliding glass doors extending the space to the enclosed yard.

The dining area is located in what used to be the passageway between the house and the barn. A Moon luminaire by designer Davide Groppi hangs above the table, with tall, sliding glass doors extending the space to the enclosed yard.

Seattle architecture and design studio Mwworks renovated a working barn in the eastern foothills of the Cascade Mountains in Washington. 

Seattle architecture and design studio Mwworks renovated a working barn in the eastern foothills of the Cascade Mountains in Washington. 

Siding, paneling, flooring, even fixtures, and doors were sourced from the original building or salvage yards.

Siding, paneling, flooring, even fixtures, and doors were sourced from the original building or salvage yards.

Architects Tom Powell and Sam Nelson rehabilitated a dilapidated barn in the Devonshire countryside of southwest England for an older couple who just needed living space for themselves and the occasional guest.The aluminum roof is a material that recalls the typical use of corrugated metal on agricultural buildings, yet it subtly contrasts with the historic form. "It’s not quite what you’d use on a normal barn," says Powell.

Architects Tom Powell and Sam Nelson rehabilitated a dilapidated barn in the Devonshire countryside of southwest England for an older couple who just needed living space for themselves and the occasional guest.

The aluminum roof is a material that recalls the typical use of corrugated metal on agricultural buildings, yet it subtly contrasts with the historic form. "It’s not quite what you’d use on a normal barn," says Powell.

In keeping with preservation goals, no new openings were created in the building, and the existing openings were fitted with simple oak and glass pivot doors, so as to keep the views clear and the detailing unfussy. The architects balanced the exposed stone and Douglas fir trusses with pale sycamore, lime plaster walls, and bespoke metalwork by a local blacksmith. 

In keeping with preservation goals, no new openings were created in the building, and the existing openings were fitted with simple oak and glass pivot doors, so as to keep the views clear and the detailing unfussy. The architects balanced the exposed stone and Douglas fir trusses with pale sycamore, lime plaster walls, and bespoke metalwork by a local blacksmith. 

London- and Oslo-based architectural practice Studio Bua turned a battered 1930s farm building into a 1,959-square-foot live/work space in Iceland’s remote Breiðafjörður Nature Reserve. To contrast with—but not distract from—the rugged outbuildings and surrounding landscape, the team built a low-impact timber insert that allows the existing structure to maintain its distinctive character while adding another level to the home. The architects meticulously restored the original concrete structure, which was "fragile in some places," Sumarliðadóttir says, and lined the existing barn floor with a reinforced concrete raft. 

London- and Oslo-based architectural practice Studio Bua turned a battered 1930s farm building into a 1,959-square-foot live/work space in Iceland’s remote Breiðafjörður Nature Reserve. To contrast with—but not distract from—the rugged outbuildings and surrounding landscape, the team built a low-impact timber insert that allows the existing structure to maintain its distinctive character while adding another level to the home. The architects meticulously restored the original concrete structure, which was "fragile in some places," Sumarliðadóttir says, and lined the existing barn floor with a reinforced concrete raft. 

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