A Rustic Retreat

This barn house strikes the perfect balance between a relaxed

feel and rich sophistication.

Written by Vicki Johnson     Photography by Beau Gustafson

For this homeowner, horses are a way of life. “I started riding when I was 13, just fell in love with it and have never really been able to get it out of my system,” she says. Once she got married, she and her husband wanted to live a more rustic life. After they dreamed up their ideal barn and house, living with horses became a reality as they now raise their two daughters in their custom-built barn house on 30 acres of farmland.

When her husband took a job working for the family business in Birmingham the couple decided to move from their farm in Anniston and searched for two years to find the land they could call home. They finally found it in the town of Leeds and purchased 30 acres of an 80-acre plot to build on.

Because of their unique wishes, the homeowners approached Dick Pigford of Architecture Works to help with the build. “We knew some of the work he’s done, and his wife rides,” she says. “And we knew they had kind of a barn house, too. So he was familiar with what we were looking to do, and he was familiar with horses.”

The original idea was to build the barn portion first, so they could bring their boarded horses back to their own barn, and then create an additional living space by building a connected apartment portion to live in while the separate house structure was being built. The build took 18 months, and the family finally moved into the “apartment” house in January 2005.

“We ended up moving in here and loving it,” the homeowner reflects. “Right now we just really don’t feel like we have a need for a house. We’ve just enjoyed it so much.”

While building the barn, the homeowner’s spent a lot of time with Pigford going over their wants and needs. Through the process they learned what they liked and disliked about barn structures. “I took pictures of barns and houses everywhere,” she says. “We go down to Wellington, Fla. some and they have a lot of barn houses down there, and then I’d go to some of my friend’s barns also.”

The heated and air-conditioned portion, which includes the tack and feed room part of the barn and the house, comes in at 3,755 square feet. The barn has eight 12-by-12 foot stalls, four on each side, flanked by a 12-foot space between. On opposite ends of the barn are two wash stations. The tack room, which leads off the main house, is a rich, wood-paneled room with space for saddles, bridles and other equipment, and with show ribbons and awards on the walls.

A utility room also houses the fly spray tank and closet space for medicine and other items. A separate shed across from the barn structure stores hay and shavings for the stalls. The 23-foot ceiling and dark, wooden beams showcase the barn’s rich, warm look, and the shutters and curved clerestory windows give it Old World charm. A large cupola in the middle helps to draw the hot air up and creates a nice breeze. “It is as well ventilated and well lit as possible,” she says.

The lived-in portion of the house is approximately 2,025 square feet, which includes the upstairs bedrooms, baths, kitchen and den. Downstairs has an additional den with a bar area, office, a half bath and laundry room. The upstairs living area is divided into two suites; on one side, the master bedroom and bath, and on the other side, the two girls’ rooms and shared bathroom. A large open kitchen and den area divide the spaces, a feature the homeowners wanted to incorporate into their new house.

The house evokes a naturally rustic feel. The homeowners wanted to keep the color palette neutral and tried to incorporate new pieces into their existing furniture and overall design look. Much of the furniture was found by the homeowner’s mother-in-law and sister-in-law. “It turned out a lot nicer and really just what we wanted,” she says.

Wooden beams and a stained concrete floor downstairs mix modern and organic elements. Upstairs, more wooden beams, hardwood flooring and large windows create an old, traditional feel. A rich tapestry hangs on the wall flanked by two candle sconces, and a custom 10-foot tall by 11-foot wide dark wood cabinet houses the entertainment center and a small library collection. The stained concrete farmhouse kitchen sink and island blend well with the mosaic backsplash and custom cream cabinetry. In the master bathroom, more stained concrete, scooped his and her sinks and a tub and shower surrounded in slate give the space a relaxed earthy feel.

Salvaged Bessemer grey brick, found all over the Birmingham area, was used for the exterior of the house, and the large porch that spans the front of the house is great for lounging and enjoying the scenery that surrounds it.

Incorporating horses and the equestrian motif is evident in the design aesthetic, and art is also a vibrant part of the décor. Two large, striking paintings can be found in the house—one, a five-foot by three-foot commissioned canvas painting of a cowboy farm scene, done by local artist Thomas Andrew; the other, a large horse on a painted canvas by artist Meredith Keith. A LeRoy Neiman print of the 2010 World Equestrian Games in Lexington, Ky. gives the downstairs den a punch of color. Other items, including lamps, pillows, small sculptures and figurines placed around the house, help bring the feel of the barn inside.

Although the house was built only six years ago, the décor and architectural details convey a timeless look and feel that showcases a farmhouse charm with a mix of industrial and organic elements. For the homeowners, it’s the house they’ve always longed for, and it’s given them the opportunity to live the lifestyle they’ve always wanted. “It just looks like it was meant to be here,” she says. •


•Architect: Dick Pigford, Architecture Works, LLP.

•General Contractor: Aztec Building

•Paint Colors: Benjamin Moore “Carrington Beige”, master bedroom in Benjamin Moore “Abington Putty”

•Furnishings and Accessories: carpeting by Hiltz-Lauber; bedding, sofa, mirror from At Home in Homewood; rug from King’s House; custom built cabinet by S& H Cabinet Works; a mixture of family heirlooms and select pieces picked by the homeowner’s mother-in-law and sister-in-law

•Concrete flooring: Jeffco Concrete Contractors in Tuscaloosa-downstairs concrete stained in Sonora tan

•Landscape Architect/Design: Greg Sawyer from Earth Works Landscape Supply, LLC

•Horse ring and driveway: Chris and Michael Glenn from Glenn Contracting and Paving Co., Inc. in Birmingham

•Barn doors, stall fronts and windows: Lucas Equine Equipment in Kentucky

•Lighting Fixtures/Backsplash: Crossville Stone and Tile in Mountain Brook

•Kitchen Design/Appliances: custom cabinetry, GE Stainless Steel appliances

•Stained concrete surfaces: Urban Earth in Birmingham- kitchen sink in mocha, kitchen island in baked oyster, tack room counter in Betsy Brown, and master bath counter in Willoby with scooped his and hers sinks

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One Response to “A Rustic Retreat”

  1. C. Walker says:

    This barn turned out beautiful! I love the rustic feel to it. Great article!

    – C. Walker

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