Transforming a BARN into a CHIC & Modern Home with Equestrian Style

Modern Barn Farmhouse Chic Architect Gil Schafer ARCHITECTURAL DIGEST

Photos courtesy of the Barn Inspired Living feature in ARCHITECTURAL DIGEST

Like many people passionate about Design, barns have always deeply fascinated me and captivated my attention on the landscape.  I think this is because of the beautiful clarity of their Design; the combination of function and form mixed with a rusticity and stunning natural patina.  The amazing thing about “old barns” is that regardless of how old they actually are, they always feel very modern inside because of this clarity of purpose in their design.  It is this mix of modern and old, of rusticity and exposed construction that has always drawn my attention… that combined with the soaring spaces and hand crafted beams that tell a story of where we have been and those who came before us.  Like many, I have always wanted to renovate and live in a large rambling barn that sits powerfully in its landscape, nestled into the ground in which the garden that surrounds it is as much a part of the structure as are the beams and boards themselves.

I love the symbolism a barn evokes of a community coming together to build something for the greater good of the community.  That a “barn raising” was about people working together as well as the need for the actual  barn itself.  While a renovated barn’s interior is typically vast and spacious with soaring ceilings and the ability to create massive windows that take advantage of the views, it doesn’t have to be all rough wood, floral prints and traditional styling.  I love the polished, modern sexiness of many of the interiors from the ARCHITECTURAL DIGEST feature on barn conversions.  They are graphic, modern and functional, YET warm and inviting.  Some of my favourite exteriors and interiors from the extensive feature in AD include:

Modern Barn Farmhouse Chic Designer S. Russell Groves ARCHITECTURAL DIGEST

I adore the original finish of these exterior barn boards and how they tell the story of this structure.  This specific barn was moved from Canada to Connecticut and transformed into a 15 room home by Designer S. Russell Groves.  I love the creation of the massive central stone chimney and the usage of the multi-paned windows.  The traditional barn red of the exterior makes the structure pop beautifully in the landscape.  The only thing missing from that lawn are several massive lop eared Flemish Giant rabbits… then it would be perfection.

Modern Farmhouse Barn Chic Architectural Digest

For the interior of the home, Designer Groves kept things spare, modern and edited.  The palette is restricted so that the visual textures of the stone, wooden beams and the view itself would be the star of this home.  The massive stone chimney acts as the heart of the home and opens onto all rooms on either side as it progresses upwards throughout the structure.

Modern Barn Farmhouse Chic Architect Paul F. Shurtleff ARCHITECTURAL DIGEST

This barn conversion makes me feel as if Black Beauty is about to pop out of the sliding doors from the living room at any moment. This stunning home was conceived, in a collaborative effort, by architect Paul F. Shurtleff and landscape architect Douglas Reed.  The style of barn is a Bank Barn in which the raised earth causeway accesses the upper level and the lower levels are accessible via the surrounding sides.

Modern Barn Farmhouse Chic Architect Paul F. Shurtleff ARCHITECTURAL DIGEST media room

The interior of the above home is spacious, warm and inviting (interior by Thad Hayes).  The usage of the beams here are dramatic and compelling.  The fieldstone fireplace grounds the sidewall and gives a lovely visual tension against the reclaimed timber.  My only qualm is the usage of leather in the space…

Modern Barn Farmhouse Chic ARCHITECTURAL DIGEST Bucks County

This conversion in Bucks County, has a more quirky and layered sensibility as well as a usage of more period style furnishings and accessories.  The fireplace is a carved stone piece and not rustic blocks as we have seen and they are leaving more of the wooden structure exposed and in its original layout.  I adore the original ladder opening to the hay loft above just left in the ceiling to show the history of the structure.

Modern Barn Farmhouse Chic Brown Grotta ARCHITECTURAL DIGEST

This barn home is a complete reconstruction using period beams and leaving their beautiful textures and tones exposed to contrast with the modern materials of steel and stone.  The space is very modern yet at the same time very inviting and calm.  I particularly love the usage of the horse style door, and the floating stairs are a sculptural art piece.  The space is by Brown-Grotta.

Modern Barn Farmhouse Chic Architect Gil Schafer ARCHITECTURAL DIGEST

Believe it or not but this magnificent structure is a poolhouse.  Designed by architect Gil Schafer, this stunning beauty takes the shape of a sophisticated barn with stone walls and weathered plank shutters.  The central cupola acts as a light belvedere for the interior and the usage of the massive upward sliding paned windows gives the space a magical sensibility.  This space calls to the viewer like a siren, it is simply spectacular.


While contemplating the delights of a barn conversion I came across the following images of a coach house conversion in the always delightful Style at Home magazine.  The space is the perfect mixture of warmth, wit and equestrian details that would be perfect in a study, library or family room in a barn conversion (or any home for that matter).  I love the playfulness and the quiet elegance mixed with vintage finds created in this space shown below.

Equestrian Style 3I love the usage of the black painted trim and floors in this space, contrasting with the cool neutrals of the walls and the rich pops of colour from the smaller details.  The usage of period equestrian elements gives the space a rich and evocative charm… I especially love the usage of the folded horse quilts and the juicy orange of the throw.  (featured in Style at Home Magazine)

Equestrian Style 2

This exquisite “moment” was created in an original nook in the coach house… the creation of the daybed is inviting, functional and yet aspirational.  I particularly adore the Gothic window floating above the dark wainscoting  giving it an almost ecclesiastical feeling.  This is the perfect spot to read or daydream.  (featured in Style at Home magazine)

Equestrian Style 4

A beautiful display of collections, Art, books and fabrics in the built in wall unit grounds the space and adds the needed pop of colour to add zest and joy to the space.

Further images of inspiration for the Barn conversion theme include the following stunning spaces:

Equestrian Style 1

The exposed reclaimed barn doors on the sliding metal track give this space a beautiful blending of modern and  vintage barn chic.  The bold patterned rug adds a wonderful energy to the space.

Equestrian Style 6

The unexpected pop of fuchsia in this space adds drama, interest and vitality.

Equestrian Style 7

Spare and light… the visual texture and tones of the reclaimed wood doors act as Art in this space, while the play of light on the massive volume of space visually and mentally uplifts the guest.


  1. KariKari01-18-2013

    Brilliant Robyn, One of the most beautiful barn conversions is indeed the contemporary gallery space by Brown Grotta. If you were to walk into the photo, past the stairs you’d find yourself in a contemporary art space. I’ve shown in this gallery! They specialize in international, contemporary, textile arts. (And, it’s about 15 minutes from my house!)