Reimagining the Classic Barn as a Modern Home

Modern Barn Home

There’s something special about the slow pace at which rural architecture changes. The old tried and true shapes and materials remain much the same as they did for centuries, simply because they work. Why mess with a good thing? When everything else in the world is changing so fast, it’s nice to know you can take a peaceful country drive and see the same kinds of farmhouses, barns and outbuildings that have been present in the area for many generations.

Modern Barn Home side

Preserving local cultural heritage through rural architecture should be a priority everywhere, but that doesn’t mean you can’t play with those typologies and come up with new things. In Australia, Paul Uhlmann Architects demonstrates how a structure as simple and classic as a barn can be adapted into a modern home that still feels deeply rooted in the history of its surroundings.

Located in a suburb of Brisbane, “The Barn” is still made of wood inside and out, with the kind of sturdy metal roof that amplifies the sound of falling rain. But the architects have given the roofline a rounded peak, and used thinner, vertically oriented siding to connect the home to contemporary style. The ground floor features enormous barn doors that open the living space almost entirely to the outdoors.

Modern Barn Home barn doors

Modern Barn Home living area This residence was designed to be a rural weekend getaway for reoccurring clients; a busy city couple and their children. An existing driveway meanders through the property, flanked by sprawling jacarandas that lead to the building. This idea of ‘The Barn’ was embraced in both external form and the interior spaces, as the building was intended to be an escape for the family to go and enjoy their horses.”

Modern Barn Home inside

“The ground floor plan completely opens to engage with the sprawling lawn and grounds of the property. This enables cross-ventilation, and the ability of the family’s young children and their friends to come and go as they please. Cathedral-like ceilings and windows are encapsulated by exposed structural timbers to frame views to the paddocks and bushland below.”

Modern Barn Home upstairs

“Upstairs, the bedrooms have skylights to watch the clouds go past during the day, and the stars by night. A generous bunkroom enables the children to host multiple friends over the weekend while the adults can entertain separately on the ground floor. The design of the building, clad internally and externally in Australian hardwood with a zincalume roof, created a strong singular rural form that sits like a rural shed in a setting of both farmland and bush.”

Modern Barn Home at night

This modern barn home may be distinctly Australian in flavor, but it stands as a great example of how old and new styles can merge into something stylish, highly livable and made almost entirely from sustainable wood.

Former Barn Raiser Makes Miniature Barns out of Eastern White Pine

Eastern White Pine miniature barn

For decades, John Ebersole built big, sturdy barns in the Amish tradition throughout central Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia. You might think that at 81, his barn-raising days would be behind him, but they’re not. They’ve just taken on a different form.

Now, instead of working with full-scale Eastern White Pine lumber, Ebersole has simply shrunken the proportions of his work. He still uses the same kinds of wood and joinery to craft miniature barns, showing off the beauty of the naked framework. They may be much smaller, but these barns are created piece-by-piece in a very similar way to the real thing.

Miniature barn detail

In a feature at Lancaster Online, Ebersole says he lays out all the posts, mark where the holes need to be, drills and then starts assembling. In some cases, where very thin pieces of wood are required for the joints, he uses toothpicks cut in half. Matchsticks stand in for rungs on ladders.

“When I first started building, my uncle, he was a retired carpenter … he taught me a lot of things,” Ebersole says, “and I appreciated that. He said, ‘Now, you keep a diary of all this work,’ and I did not do that. Now, sometimes, I wish I did.”

The construction process doesn’t completely change when building a model, Ebersole says. “If you’re off by a sixteenth of an inch up or down” when building a model, he says, “that really shows in a small scale like this.”

miniature pine barn ladder

Check out the rest of the piece, including lots more photos, at Lancaster Online.

Photos by Suzette Wenger

Country Carpenters: Buildings Steeped in New England Tradition

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With regular features in magazines like Country Living, Cabin Living and Timber Home Living, it’s safe to say post and beam building company (and NeLMA member) Country Carpenters is an attention-getter. Founded in 1974, the Connecticut-based company specializes in beautiful barns, carriage houses, cabins and other structures that carry on the time-honored traditions of New England.



“Every Country Carpenters building has New England written all over it – not in words, but in yankee ingenuity, Puritan resolve, and the American tradition of value that lasts and lasts,” they say. “The first American carpenters, many of whom were shipbuilders, immediately put their skills to use right in their own backyards. These men were versatile enough to build barns and structures that were at first functional, but beautiful in their simplicity and structural integrity as well. So, what we can learn from these ‘founding fathers’ of post & beam is that they adapted – incorporating the truth and beauty of past experience into the lifestyle of the day.”

Combining old familiar aesthetics of the region with the strength of post and beam, Country Carpenters creates unique pre-cut, pre-engineered building kits designed for assembly by professional carpenters. Primarily made of Eastern White Pine, these structures have the humble feel that typically comes with rural architecture and simple materials, but their quality shines brightly – not to mention the classic beauty of all that wood.

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Customers often put their own unique touches on each individual building, making them one of a kind. It’s fun to see the finished results, particularly on the company’s Testimonials page. They really show off the versatility of the kits, which customers use as barns, sheds, hunting shacks, garages, gift shops, pool houses and more.

The goal of every one of our buildings is to find a place on your property, and a home in your heart.


White Pine Architecture: Beautiful Barns by Keystone

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The versatility of white pine lends itself to all sorts of architectural applications, from crisp modern beach houses and complex ceiling designs in gymnasiums to its more traditional uses in rural New England-style farmhouses and barns. Here are some examples of the latter via Keystone Barns, a Pennsylvania company specializing in custom barns with beautifully finished interiors.

keystone barn 1

keystone barn 2

Many of these barns are built using Eastern White Pine, including gorgeous tongue-and-groove boards that give each structure a warmth and comforting sense of simplicity. Some are left unfinished for a more rustic look, while others are just as lovingly crafted as full-scale houses.

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And if you love the look of barns so much you’d like to claim a livable version as your own abode, Keystone also builds homes with barn-inspired aesthetics. Options include car garages, lofts, apartments and lean-tos as well as barns and sheds designed specifically for livestock purposes. See more at