This Cozy Library Used to Be a Ramshackle Barn

·2 min read

At first, they ignored it. “When I bought the house, it was sort of just there,” says textile designer John Robshaw of the old barn a former owner had attached to the side of his 1840s farmhouse in Sharon, Connecticut. “I was using it as a print studio.” He and his wife, Rachel, finished a gut renovation of the main house before realizing their mistake.

Photo credit: WINNIE AU
Photo credit: WINNIE AU

“I had guests coming over, and I didn’t have a bathroom downstairs—which my mother kept complaining about,” Robshaw recalls. So, with the help of architect Colby Wong and decorator Sara Bengur, Robshaw set about transforming the single-floor barn into what he describes as a “library, loungey, everything living space.” After wiring for electricity and heat, it was filled with pieces from his showrooms (like a pair of bookcases inspired by an Istanbul mosque) and extensive travels (he goes to India at least twice a year), and, of course, plenty of one-of-a-kind textiles.

“It’s always fun looking through my warehouse’s excess fabrics—dye lots might be off or we made too much—and seeing what works,” Robshaw says. The added sleeper sofa, powder room, and outdoor shower made it visitor-ready: “My parents can get to this easier than the main house’s upstairs bathrooms—plus, everyone needs an outdoor shower in the country!”

Entryway

Photo credit: Winnie Au
Photo credit: Winnie Au

In the hallway that connects the barn with the main house, Robshaw placed a Syrian inlaid chair atop Tuareg rugs. He collects Indian ancestor paintings, like the one that hangs here. Curtain fabric: Maansi Walnut, John Robshaw.

Main Room

Photo credit: WINNIE AU
Photo credit: WINNIE AU

“I had the walls and floors stained dark as a backdrop for all the bright textiles I knew I’d be using,” says Robshaw. Bookcases: custom-designed by Colby Wong. Sleeper sofa: John Robshaw for Duralee. Table lamps: vintage from Montage Antiques.

Dining Area

Photo credit: Winnie Au
Photo credit: Winnie Au

Robshaw swaps the wool Tulu rugs out for cotton indigo ones in the summer. Chairs: Richard Wrightman. Table: Michael Trapp.

Extra Seating

Photo credit: Winnie Au
Photo credit: Winnie Au

Benches by Robshaw offer hidden storage—and are choice sleeping spots for visiting nieces and nephews.

Powder Room

Photo credit: Winnie Au
Photo credit: Winnie Au

Robshaw used his own Diba Sapphire wallpaper in the petite space, along with a custom chik blind backed in a printed fabric. Sink and antique mirror: Michael Trapp. Faucet: California Faucets Wholesale.

Outdoor Shower

Photo credit: Winnie Au
Photo credit: Winnie Au

Because there wasn’t enough room to fit a full bathroom, Robshaw installed a showerhead in a private area outside. Stools: Michael Trapp.

Follow House Beautiful on Instagram.

You Might Also Like