The Versatile Barn Idea

By Dan Gregory

Simple gabled barns -- like the vintage example lit up for a wedding reception, at left -- inspired the design of these house plans.

[This post has been updated.]

I once attended a wedding in a restored hay barn. The spare interior consisted of a long, central, nave-like space flanked by side aisles where the feeding troughs would have been. It was a very moving event and demonstrated the form’s versatility, not to mention the barn’s use throughout history for both secular and sacred purposes. The night view in the collage above shows the barn after it had been transformed from ceremonial space to dance hall. The barn-inspired house plans are clockwise from top right: 1 bed/1 bath Plan 447-1; 1 bed/1 bath Plan 450-2; and 3 bed/2.5 bath Plan 552-3

The barn form is said to derive from the Roman basilica or law court (although it isn’t exactly clear which came first, barn or basilica). The building type that originally served Romans as a public,

commercial, or governmental meeting place, then became temple, then a popular church plan, with its strong central axis, side aisles, and simple gable roof (image above, of a basilica at Pompeii, courtesy Vitruvius.be)

Such forms are perfect starting points for anyone dreaming about a new home, or as a ground-up custom home. In the case of a vintage barn, the warmth of restored wood and drama of a soaring interior can make

such a space very compelling. As you can see in the collection of plans shown here (and at the top of this post) the barn idea can be manipulated in a wide variety of ways: the side aisles can become porches, or one side can become longer than the other, or the single gable can rise two or more floors. In this collage the designs are, clockwise from top: 3 bed/2.5 bath Plan 888-1; 3 bed/2.5 bath Plan 888-13; and 3 bed/3.5 bath Plan 888-15 (both the layout and the elevation).

Ranch house designer and popularizer Cliff May once said “You never see a bad barn. But you see all kinds of ugly houses; that’s because they’re built without considering function. A barn is made to spend not a nickel more than you need to house the horse or the cow or the feed.” The point is that a barn’s simple outline and straightforward yet noble spaces provide a remarkable springboard for the imagination. And they always have.

To browse a collection of barn style house plans click here.

Originally Published in Eye On Design

Sat Jun 10 00:00:00 PDT 2017