A Ramshackle Barn Undergoes A Spectacular Transformation

The stunning barn style house project involved the conversion of an old barn into a modern living space supporting a variety of activities and guests. The design called for an apartment, workroom/kitchen, bathrooms and a bunkroom to be arranged within the existing cabin building envelope. SHED Architecture & Design in Seattle both designed and built the modern barn project, often living on the building site for extended periods. The familiarity with the building site, building and with the client resulted in refinements to the permitted building plans that capitalized on the unexpected potential as well as the execution of several details in responsive to existing conditions.

The designers working within the existing envelope of the barn attempted to imbue each space with its character through the use of natural light and the orientation to the landscape. The primary design interventions of this modern barn were the creation of a utility pass-thru that separates the bunkroom from the main workspace and then carved out the entry that connects the apartment to the workroom. The secondary design interventions include the addition of dormers, skylights and bay windows that developed the relationship of the interior spaces to the pastoral landscape.

Each space in the barn style house was developed around a minimal palette of building materials and color, with extensive reuse of the existing barn building materials. Some of these building materials included reusing the original barn siding for the interior paneling, re-milling the salvaged floor joists for the stair material, countertops and trim. In a very real way, the barn style house was turned outside in and then was wrapped in a new cedar board and batten exterior that would weather and age well. Emphasis was placed on the durability and directness of the design solutions to create unique and practical.

Sustainability. This barn style house re-used the salvaged cedar siding for the interior wall surfaces. The barn style house also uses salvaged wood beams that were milled for the benches and countertops. Salvaged plumbing fixtures were re-used and custom fabricated doors and steel details were designed.

Barns have been around for hundreds of years. Throughout American history, farmers have built barn designs to store their harvest and shelter their livestock. There are a variety of barn styles that can be seen throughout the United States, each suited to the environment where the barn resides. The design of the barn, especially if it is a very old barn, is bound with the weather requirements of that particular area and the cultural traditions of the farmers in the region. One example, a steeply peaked roof, is relevant to the regions that have considerable snowfall since the weight of the snow can bring a barn down. Such peaks only capture the heat in the hotter, humid South regions, so while that barn will still have a slope to the shed rain and snow, the more southerly barns add variation to help with ventilation such as the airy monitor barns that ensure a breeze from the floor to ceiling through the monitor’s vents.