This home, a rustic barn inspired vacation retreat for a family of four on Spring Island, South Carolina, was designed by Historical Concepts to appear as if it was once an old horse stable. The long and linear form is typical of the equestrian building typology and reminiscent of a simple barn that would have housed horses on a large functioning estate. To make the imaginary transition from stable to home, the design team came up with a playful layout that is unusual and quirky, as if new uses were carved into every niche and cranny of the “old barn”.
On the exterior, sliding barn doors open to reveal an open-air entry, flooded with light from the barn-inspired cupola above. Inside, a mixed palette of materials and barn-inspired details add further embellishment to the fictional storyline. Old Savannah Gray brick, reclaimed floors, exposed timbers and other rustic details appear to be vestiges of the home’s supposed past.
Large barn doors open to the open dogtrot entry area. (A dogtrot is an open breezeway, and dogtrot houses are common in Lowcountry.) Large screens are stashed in pockets so the entire opening can be screened, letting the breeze through without letting in the bugs. The dogtrot provides an open-air entry that receives light from the cupola overhead.
The home is comprised of 2,900 square feet of living space, with 3 bedrooms, 3½ bathrooms plus a 1-bedroom, 1-bath guesthouse.
“A catwalk connects a bunk room to a sitting room/office upstairs. “We kept the catwalk as open as possible so that it did not block too much light from the cupola. The industrial feel is an interesting counterpoint to the barn style.” A large fireplace draws everyone into the dogtrot during cold months. “The owners tell me that the dogtrot is a magnet for people whenever they have parties,”.
The upstairs windows share the light from the sitting room/office with the downstairs living space. The architect used 12-inch ponderosa pine planks, which stand up well to kids and dogs.
The owners wanted the kitchen sink to look out to the dogtrot fireplace; windows share the light and create the idea of a horse stall. Placing the sink on the dogtrot side dictated that the range be placed in the island, and the clients’ range required a commercial vent hood.
In the main living room, wide planks on the walls add more barn feeling. Indigenous Old Savannah Gray bricks give the chimney an aged look. Also carrying the barn theme through are rough-hewn beams meant to evoke a hayloft.
Other parts of the house have concrete floors, including the dining room, screened-in porch and dogtrot area. All the spaces flow in a logical way; a few paces allow the family to choose between the indoor dining room and the screened-in porch at mealtimes.
Tall pine trees and the screened-in porch along the back of the home mitigate the direct sunlight.
At the back of the house is the master suite is at the left; its structure is meant to resemble a stable manager’s office added onto the barn. A glass corridor leads to the main bedroom and a small office. Barn doors create the idea of rooms as former horse stalls. Thanks to telecommuting, the family is able to spend long stints in South Carolina, but it was important for the workspace to also incorporate the beautiful surroundings.
The parental zone also has its own private patio.
More pine planks on the walls, pine countertops and a claw-foot tub give this bathroom relaxed country style.
A cupola and dormers on the roof let in light and create ventilation, important elements in the home’s design; the windows are operational and open via a motor.
The neighborhood required muted colors; the archtect picked a woodsy palette that blends well with the coastal trees and shrubs around the home. He added a touch of barn red on the window trim.
Details like electrified gas lanterns, board and batten siding, a metal roof and exposed vent pipes add to the barn feeling.
Large sliding barn doors and Bahama shutters punctuate the front of the home and also let the owners batten it down when they head home to Princeton, New Jersey. The shutters function like Bermuda shutters but are planked to fit in with barn style.
The thoughtful layout was very important to the way the family lives here, especially when the kids bring friends home. The kids have a two-story zone on one side of the house, the communal areas are in the middle, and the parents have a first-floor master suite off the back of the house. The upper floor is the son’s domain; it includes a bedroom, a bunk room and a small sitting area (at the end of the catwalk) and a bathroom.
This is the upstairs sitting room, which overlooks the living room. All of the great light coming in through the dormers is shared with the first floor. The son’s and daughter’s zones will also work when they grow up, as guest suites where they can stay with families of their own.
Photos: Richard Leo Johnson | Atlantic Archives
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