Build Your Dream House with 6 Barn-inspired Features

Draw on the rustic architecture of America’s barns when designing a barn-style home with these six features.

by Jodi Helmer
PHOTO: Yankee Barn Homes/Facebook

Just as important as finding a farm you love is finding a farmhouse you love. Many rural folk are gleaning farmhouse inspiration from America’s landscape and building barn-style homes. Barn homes run the gamut from refurbished antique barns to modern homes designed with an agrarian aesthetic, but how exactly do you go about defining a barn home? Whether a barn home was restored or built from scratch, there are common architectural elements that define its unique style. Here are six features you’ll commonly find in barn homes.

1. Post-and-beam or Timber-Frame Construction
Although there are subtle differences between the two construction styles, both are common in barn homes. In timber framing and post-and-beam construction, the timbers are exposed to create a stunning interior architectural feature. In contrast with timber-frame construction, where the timbers are flattened on all four sides, the timbers used in post-and-beam construction are flattened on one side (the side where the framing or joints connect). In most timber-frame homes, the timbers are visible on the interior only; in post-and-beam construction, the timbers can also be visible on the exterior of the home. Both styles use specialty joints to connect the timbers and create a solid frame.

2. Gable Roof
A gable roof is a traditional pitched roof you see in barn construction that looks like a triangle perched atop a rectangular building. A steep pitch was more common on older barns, but is still featured in the construction of barn homes todays.

3. Gambrel Roof
The symmetrical gambrel roof has two sides and two angled slopes on either side that meet and form a point. Newer barns are often built with gambrel roofs because the roofline allows for more storage space. It’s one of the most iconic rooflines in rural America.

4. Vertical Siding
Most barn homes are constructed with shiplap or board-and-batten siding. Shiplap siding is made from wooden boards with grooves cut into the edges to allow the boards to overlap, while board-and-batten siding is a combination of vertical boards with a “batten” or narrow strip of wood that covers the joints where the boards meet. On barns, vertical siding is used to prevent water from seeping between the boards as it runs down the walls, and it’s become a traditional feature of barn homes.

5 Cupola
A Cupola, the dome-like structure on top of a barn (often with a weathervane perched on top), is a traditional element on a barn home. On a barn, the cupola helps vent heat out of the loft area, but on a barn home they serve as decorative elements. Cupolas that adorn barn homes can be made from materials ranging from wood and glass to copper.

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6. Sliding Doors
A characteristic feature of a barn home, sliding doors are often constructed of rough-hewn wood and hung on metal rails that allow them to glide across a doorway. It’s a rustic and practical element of a barn home.


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