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Minimalist Barn in the Countryside

We developed this project from raw land through to completion. When we began, what was once a farm meadow had matured into an un-managed forest. Our goals included: subdividing one building lot from a larger parcel of land, returning the landscape to the farm pasture it had been years before, and siting this barn style home to maximize views and solar gain.

The clean, almost simple form of this home presents a blank slate for its inhabitants to manipulate. The exterior contains lots of glass to the South and West, while protecting the North side with fewer, small windows. The exterior stain was discovered on a working barn in Stowe Village. The translucent finish allows the knotty spruce siding to bleed through, adding a layer of rustic charm.

A barn seemed fitting, because of the agricultural history of this hillside. Barns have seen resurgence in recent years because of the strength, and flexibility their soaring timber frames provide. Similar to the city loft, a barn presents a stunning blank slate, rich with textures of the past.

Inside this barn, we focused on finishes with a minimalist palette. Plaster, stone, and concrete were used because of their historic roots and modest beauty. Three levels of concrete flooring provide substantial thermal mass for the radiant heat, as well as a canvas for the stained concrete. Plaster walls and ceilings present an opportunity for added texture and smooth architectural accents. The upper-level guest bedroom, contains a piece of tempered glass framed into the wall overlooking the cathedral living room below. We plastered a round opening for this window. Plaster’s organic nature lends a sculptural feel to this simple window. We scoured through local Vermont stone yards looking for the perfect counter tops. I knew I had found what I was looking for the moment I saw this rugged soapstone in a Barre, VT “grave yard” where stone goes to die. This non-traditional soapstone looked far more earthen with massive crystalline veins, dark green hues, and the classic soft/subtleness only soapstone can provide.

We were true to Vermont barn vernacular, keeping interior trim details to a minimum. We let the plaster and concrete make interior visual connections, often concealed by many smaller pieces of wood trim. Timeless materials show their age with an artistic patina.

This relatively small structure of 2000 square feet, feels larger because of the proportion and flow of the interior spaces. Smaller rooms were clustered towards the entry, or up-hill end of the house, while large, soaring spaces comprise the walk out end. The walk-out level contains its own bedroom and full bath, lending itself to private guest quarters.
Efficient features of this home include: siting for maximum solar gain, salvaged materials were used throughout (siding, interior trim, plumbing fixtures, hardscape materials) thermal mass radiant heat on all three levels, closed cell foam insulation, low E- argon filled – double glazed Marvin aluminum clad windows.

The 24’ by 24’ garage, deeply seated, not overbearing, brings slightly more detail to the property. The shiplap siding exposure is narrower than that of the main house. Two over two window light division, and handmade red cedar garage doors add a level of craft. Zero fascia soffit to match the house gives the shed dormer a light/minimalist appearance. The small garage apartment maintains a dramatic view of nearby Mt. Mansfield through the large operable dormer window.

Architecture/design: Tektonika Studio Architects – Stowe, VT