This project represents a collaboration with a colleague and friend, AD100 interior designer Penny Drue Baird. Over the years Irwin and IWI have worked on many projects together. When working together, IWI focuses on the structural and space aspects and Penny focuses on the decorative elements: furniture, accessories, and lighting.
This Buck County, PA barn was conceived by the home owners to be used as an additional space for entertaining and occasional guests. The small rooms of the main house didn't lend themselves to large family gatherings. IWI created the architectural layout and design (from the space planning and window layout to the balcony design), the lighting plan, and the furniture layout.
This original and untouched old Pennsylvania bank barn (it's built on an embankment) is part of an original estate with a classic Bucks County stone house that Penny designed a few years before. The property is on the shore of small lake. One side of the barn is not visible from the road and has a view of the lake. That side has been designed with large windows and a deck to maximize the view. The opposing side of the barn was restored close to how it originally appeared, with minimal openings as it faces the road and is less private.
Typically, a bank barn had three floors and a basement. The animals were herded into the basement and the floor above was where most of the indoor work was performed. The first floor was the main floor and the center of that floor was known as the the threshing floor. The second and third floors were for storage.
A challenge of the project was not to have the focus on a fireplace, staircase, or TV, but rather to focus on the outdoor view while still being able to have the interior work well.
By eliminating the second floor, the main floor was doubled in height, to approximately 14 feet. And by eliminating the center portion of the third floor, the area above the threshing floor is open to the roof.
There are two upper/attic loft areas; one with a bathroom and two sleeping areas and one with a den/TV/meditation space. The den/TV/meditation space is accessed via a secret staircase that's concealed behind a French Limestone mantel bought in Paris by Penny. The bedroom area is accessed by a stairway parallel to the kitchen.
IWI designed the kitchen; the cabinets and the Sub-Zero refrigerator are faced with reclaimed barn boards. Stained glass windows were recycled and used in some of the decorative display cabinets. We also took end-grain wood "cobblestones" and used them for the basement flooring, at the base of the staircase featuring a stand-out custom railing made from old farm implements.
Click here to read the Architectural Digest feature on the space, New Rustic.