Svdesign Bluebarn

New Life for an Old Barn

Nothing says New England like a barn door. Part of an 1892 property on the Rhode Island coast, this space once served as a carriage house, later a garage. After a tasteful renovation by SV Design, the barn doors open to an inviting space for indoor-outdoor entertaining.

This coastal Rhode Island property has been in the same family for generations. With a range of immediate and extended family visiting throughout the summer months the need arose for a communal, spacious, casual “beach living” space where everyone could gather. The old barn, original to the 1892 property, seemed the perfect spot. Situated just to the rear of the house proper and floating in an underutilized sea of lawn, the barn provided terrific opportunity for the desired indoor‐outdoor gathering spot to bring everyone together.

As the design began to materialize it became clear this new room was where kids of all ages would come to have fun. The barn was lifted and a foundation added to stabilize the structure. The original framing, new electrical wiring, and new plumbing are left exposed throughout to add to the rustic and informal nature of the barn. In removing the existing loft space for the renovation additional structural bracing was needed. The team reused beams from the adjacent garage, which was also being replaced. Siding from the adjacent garage was also salvaged and reused, where needed, for the walls of the renovated barn.

Part game room, part place to crash after the beach, a custom snack bar was designed to look like an old workbench complete with a cast concrete top. The modern adaptation includes a built‐in refrigerator for snacks and drinks, and a sink with hot and cold water to rinse things off. A second horse stall was turned into the bathroom and the horses’ trough was lined in copper and repurposed as the bathroom sink. Hanging overhead in the main living space is the property’s original well windmill that has been repurposed into a much‐needed ceiling fan, providing the barn’s only mechanical thermostatic control. If you look up into the rafters you can still see the family graffiti from years gone by.

The renovation team made certain to leave no family member out by even making room for the birds that had made a home in the barn prior to renovation. A hole was cut into the new shingles and the sparrow family is happily back in their "room".