When a fun-loving couple with three kids in their 20s (and two dogs named after American presidents) had the opportunity to purchase the property next to their Ipswich, Massachusetts, home, they snapped it up with plans to build a two-bedroom cottage. Then, inspiration struck: Why not turn it into a party barn? The couple hired interior designer Amanda Greaves and architect John Mitchell Fuller to make it happen.
Rather than start from scratch, the couple sourced an antique Canadian barn through Heritage Restoration. Fuller, who is based on Martha’s Vineyard, modified the 1800s timber frame to accommodate the owner’s vision, which included incorporating a second level for bedrooms. Heritage Restoration erected the frame on site, and local construction company Covenant took it from there. “It came in individual pieces, numbered like a Lego set,” Greaves says.
The barn was finished just in time for the owner’s children to sequester during the pandemic last year. This summer, they are hoping to finally put it to its intended use: hosting parties.
Working off the clients’ desire for a red barn door and predilection for Ralph Lauren inspired décor, Greaves—who is based in Beverly, Massachusetts—devised a sophisticated red, white, and blue color scheme. “We toned it down so as not to be too Americana,” the designer says. “Though once we got started with the red, we embraced it by pulling it all through the house.”
Door color: Benjamin Moore Heritage Red
A steel stair with hefty, oak treads is the focal point upon entry to the 60-foot-long open area. “As the building started to take shape, we flipped the stair 180 degrees, which really allowed the space to feel welcoming with a smooth flow and without any jarring angles,” Greaves says. Repurposed metal hooks and a chunky bench fashioned from leftover timber provide a spot to hang coats and pull on shoes against the whitewashed, reclaimed barnboard walls.
A fireplace made from granite blocks and slabs anchors the seating area, where the ceiling peaks at 26 feet. Hearty leather sofas and a coffee table made from leftover timbers by local workshop Cannon Hill Woodworking sit atop a luxurious Oriental rug from local rug purveyor Landry & Arcari. “They wanted cozy and indestructible,” Greaves says. “The furniture is relatively easy to move, so the space can be used as a dance floor.”
A zinc-topped bar built from leftover barn wood stretches along the far side of the living space. It’s defined by an arbor-like timber structure that lends the sense of a space-within-a-space. “It nods to the portion of a barn that would have been a feed room,” Greaves notes. A large television hangs over bracketed shelves arranged to accommodate the clients’ collection of glassware. “They wanted it to feel like an entertaining environment, not a museum-like home."
Behind the fireplace, a screened porch with a stamped concrete floor extends the living space during summertime.
The kitchen island and base cabinets are painted the same red as the exterior barn door and the hood has a wormwood enclosure. Rather than lean too industrial, Greaves opted for glossy white tiles in a herringbone pattern for the backsplash to keep the space clean and light. The countertops are leathered granite. “Given the rustic nature of the building, the clients wanted a durable, simple, and natural material.”
Greaves slotted a pantry behind the kitchen, where she put every nook and cranny to good use. “We turned the horizontal beams of the structure into shelves by inserting rods as rails,” she says.
A red, sliding barn door leads to the powder room, where the team repurposed a massive granite planter into a trough-style sink. Artwork depicting horse races reference the couple’s experiences at the Kentucky Derby.
A built-in dining bench runs along the wall opposite the kitchen, ensuring ample seating. Touches of plaid offer the taste of Ralph Lauren that the clients love. Cannon Hill Woodworking fashioned the 16-foot-long reclaimed oak dining table. “The clients are big family people who enjoy huge gatherings,” Greaves says.
Inspired by the huge flag painted on a wall at Bingham Lumber (where they sourced boards for the barn’s interior walls, floors, and ceilings), the owners asked Greaves to find a place for one of their own. “We went through an in-depth color-matching exercise to find just the right shades of red and blue,” the designer says. The red fretwork mirrors were salvaged from the property’s prior house before demolition. The asymmetrical chair is by local maker Scott Mulcahey.
Greaves hung a hand-knotted rug as an art piece above the headboard in the primary bedroom to fill the soaring space. The bed, built out of leftover reclaimed boards, features original red markings.
Greaves collaborated with the builders from Covenant to design the bunk room on the fly. There are two queen beds on the main level and two positioned head-to-head on the loft. “We just used whatever leftover barn pieces that were available to make them,” she says.
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