How an Old Barn in Connecticut Became One Family’s Fun Vintage Hangout

Two New Englanders create a country retreat in their own yard.

Architect: Mark P. Finlay Architects. Contractor: Hobbs. Interior Designer: Kerry Hanson Design. Reclaimed Wood Supplier: Pioneer Millworks. Timber Framer: New Energy Works / Photo by Jane Beiles for the New York Times

The Problem

Looking to expand their property, a couple with five kids purchased the bucolic lot adjacent to their Connecticut home. While they loved the charm of the 100-year-old red-and-white barn they inherited with the sale, the building’s deteriorating structure rendered it useless.

The Solution

Choosing to demolish the barn and start fresh, the couple tasked architect Mark Finlay with designing a vintage-style replacement where they could host gatherings and relax with the kids. So Finlay, who teamed up with contractor Hobbs and timber framer New Energy Works, used reclaimed fir, chestnut, and white oak to construct a 1,000-square-foot structure within the existing footprint. Salvaged from centuries-old farms across New England, antique boards also envelop the interior, complete with a hangout-ready loft and open-concept living area.

To prevent the barn from feeling too rustic, the team outfitted the space with modern finishes. In the seating area, for instance, interior designer Kerry Hanson chose a streamlined sofa and leather-and-wood chairs. And across the room, steel cabinetry and cantilevered Lucite shelves mingle with sleek barstools in the kitchen. “There’s tension inside between the furnishings and structure. It’s dynamic,” Finlay says. “It’s a little building, but it makes a big impact.”