Hendricks Churchill reborn the Ramshackle Barn as a Chic guesthouse

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Written By Jim J Neal

Chris MottaliniThis 100-year-old Hudson River Valley barn might not have been worth saving for many homeowners. The structure’s soft walls and partially rotted foundation made it unsuitable for storage. The owner stated that the ground floor contained mud and the upper levels were infested by bats.
The barn is located just a stones throw from the main house, which was an 1815 farmhouse that the homeowner had renovated previously with the help Heide Hendricks, Rafe Churchill and Rafe Churchill. Rafe Churchill and Heide Hendricks are the husband and wife team behind Hendricks Churchill, a Connecticut-based architecture and design company. They could save this abandoned barn, which the owner hoped to turn into an entertainment space or guest quarters. The client said that Rafe and Heide respect the historical nature of the old structures, but also bring in some modernity. It’s a great combination.

The barn was more than 100 years old and was in danger of falling apart by the time the designers came across it. The designers saved the barn from certain death and painted it with Farrow & Ball Inchyra Blue. This color was inspired by a historical Scottish manor. After fixing the foundation, he removed the timber frame and started over, adding insulation, plaster walls and radiant floors. He also added more than a dozen windows and a sleeping loft. He kept the barn’s most beautiful original elements, such as the timber posts and beams, which were still covered with old hooks and nails and the weathered ceiling, intact. Churchill says that it is impossible to recreate the beauty of an old ceiling like this. “So we built an entirely new roof structure over it.” (The same was done by the couple for the roof on their 1871 Connecticut home in Sharon. He added a full bathroom and kitchenette to the barn, as well as a garage and sauna.

Michel Ducaroy’s 1970s Togo sofa was the starting point for this large living space. The homeowner actually purchased the Togo sectional in dark brown leather from a vintage Togo before the barn was even demolished. He confesses that he had wanted a Togo sectional for many years, but had never been able to find a large enough space. The interior’s rich earthy colors of pink, charcoal, and caramel highlight the many tactile elements. These include the plaster walls and reclaimed oak floors, as well as the wicker chairs and Japanese boro fabric displayed on the wall. Hendricks points to the fact that the walls are not white pure, as this would feel too stark. She says, “We tinted plaster to give the effect of an aged patina.” She painted the kitchenette’s cabinets a muddy pink (Farrow & Ball’s Dead Salmon) to add a surprising blush to the dining room.

The charming kitchenette is painted in Farrow & Ball’s Dead Salmon. Above the sink is a Calvin Klein scarf that depicts Andy Warhol’s Electric Chair. Chris MottaliniThe raised bedroom loft is accessed via an oak zigzag staircase. The living room can be viewed through a glass railing that has a clear view. Hendricks added a vintage table with stools at the other end to provide guests with a private, cozy work area.
The designers explained that they intentionally cut back on accessories such as built-ins and window treatments. They installed motorized shades instead of drapery. They added a vertical bookcase to replace the traditional one. Even rugs were used sparingly to allow the plain oak floors to dominate. Hendricks says, “As with many other projects, I believe the success here lies within what is left out.” It’s still a barn, after all.

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