Barn style: from rustic to sleek

Modern design ideas from an iconic Western structure, plus simple ways to get the look

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A classic barn silhouette

A classic barn silhouette in Washington features a peaked roof and rustic porches on three sides.

John Granen

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Montana ledgestone chimney

  • Montana ledgestone chimney

    Adirondack chairs flank the Montana ledgestone chimney.

Living and dining areas

  • Living and dining areas

    Rich, ruddy 5-inch-wide floor planks of Brazilian cherry span the living and dining areas, shifting to travertine tile in the kitchen.

Backcountry base camp

When orthopedic surgeons David and Amaryllis Scott want to leave their weekday routines behind, the word "yonder" fits the bill. Their barn-shaped retreat on a silent ridge in Winthrop, Washington, is as remote from their working lives as the surface of the moon.

"First and foremost, it's base camp," David says. "But it's also a place to escape from the stresses of our profession. We can forget it all."

The metal-roofed, cedar-clad structure perches on a mesa amid near-treeless foothills shimmering with golden bunchgrass, sage, and bitterbrush toasted brown by sun and dry wind. Oversize windows face southwest to the North Cascade Range, scooping in hearty portions of nearby Mt. Gardner and a scrabbly terrain with some of the Northwest's best cross-country skiing.

The Scotts wanted a simple weekend home that put them close to the mountains. "At one point, we actually thought we'd just put a yurt on the property," David chuckles. When they decided instead to build a custom two-bedroom, 2,300-square-foot home that would provide comfort and utility, they called in the family expert-David's father, architect Winton Scott. The elder Scott was intrigued by the architecture of Northwest barns and suggested a design that borrowed from the region's buildings.

An open floor plan for the kitchen, dining, and living areas dispenses with walls. The warm-toned wood ceiling soars to a mind-clearing altitude of more than 20 feet above interlaced scissor-shaped trusses of vertical-grain fir, complementing the great room's loftiness while keeping the scale intimate and friendly.

Architect Winton anticipated the seasonal extremes, calculating the path of the sun and the heavy snow loads in determining the strength, slope, and overhang of the eaves. "The monumentality of the view was hard to escape," Winton says. "That was the genesis of the design-that sense of openness and no divisions of space." -Peter Sackett

DESIGN: Winton Scott Architects, Portland, ME ( or 207/774-4811)

Rustic barn style

The Scotts' house is a classic barn-like space: natural, functional, and warm.

Shaker-style kitchen cabinets. "Their simple design doesn't compete with the trusses, which are a focal point of the house," Amaryllis Scott says. Advice for your own cabinetry: Borrow ideas from timeless, utilitarian styles.

Long, deep eaves. A generous overhang offers protection in any weather but allows a connection with the outdoors.

Exposed posts and beams. Overhead trusses establish a repeating visual rhythm and give scale to the main room.

Nuts and bolts in plain view. Real barns show their seams; for an authentic look, display the hardware that holds the house together.


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