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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  • Simple board-and-batten siding inside and out connects in an honest way with the surrounding region.

    Kitchen

    Art Gray

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Backyard

  • Backyard

Wine Country retreat

The Carneros region is one of the least-developed areas of the Napa Valley, its rolling hills dotted with barns and sheds and water towers. When real estate developer Keith Rogal, founder of Napa Valley's two-year-old Carneros Inn, began work on a new phase of development - 24 single-family homes on-site for those "who check in and don't ever want to check out," he says half-jokingly - he sought a design that would reflect these surroundings. He hired William Rawn Associates, a Boston-based architecture firm known for thoughtful, place-driven projects, and matched it with Napa-based duo Kimberley Nunn and Dan Worden of Shopworks, creators of the playful interiors for eight W Hotels.

The resulting homes (including Rogal's own, pictured here) take their cues from the rural setting while simultaneously updating the barn form. Vaulted 16-foot ceilings soar over large, open-plan rooms. Nothing is embellished; instead, the construction details provide the decorative flourishes. Simple board-and-batten siding on the exterior "connects in an honest way with agricultural buildings," says architect Douglas Johnston. Shopworks used the material indoors to line the walls of the great room and define a more intimate scale. "We updated it by making it lighter and thinner, more appropriate to interior application," Worden says. "Matching its height to the top of the doors also gives the space some breathing room."

The airy interiors provide a gallery-like backdrop for furniture and objects chosen by Rogal and Shopworks for their sculptural, tactile qualities. "We picked a shaggy wool rug that everyone wants to lie on, and a chair threaded with leather strips that kids can strum like an air guitar," Rogal says. "That's part of the charm of an interesting space-that it can attract idle play, that it provokes fascination." -JAIME GROSS

DESIGN: William Rawn Associates, Architects, Boston (www.rawnarch.com or 617/423-3470)

INTERIOR DESIGN: Shopworks, Napa, CA (www.shopworks.com or 707/258-1924)

Sleek barn style

Melding traditional barn forms with modern finishes and colors requires a subtle hand. The key is to draw inspiration from the rural setting without making it kitsch.

Roof deck. The upper level includes an open-air gazebo (far left) modeled on the region's water towers.

Restrained mix. The loftlike living area contrasts straight-from-the-farm materials (board-and-batten siding, cabinet fronts with simple casework, walnut-colored floor planks) with stainless steel appliances and objects in a neutral palette.

Light sources. Inspired by barn roof vents, a clerestory-lined monitor pops open the great room's ceiling, washing the room with sunlight. The oversize mirror further brightens the space.

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