The word barn derives from combining the word barley with the Old English ern, which meant place of. For centuries the word was bern; it has been barn since the Late Middle Ages. Over the centuries a barn’s uses have expanded way beyond barley storage. Today, a barn can also be a place of tools and seedling, cars and carpentry, hay and animals, play and puttering. Or, once you clean them up, sheathe them, and add a few comforts for creatures of a very different kind, barns can actually make great houses.
Renovating a barn to a living space may not be all that complicated, but creating modern homes from fallow barns involves a lot more than just hauling out the rusty junk, brushing aside some cobwebs and cow manure, and hanging drywall. Still, despite their often derelict condition, there is truly a romance to these rustic structures that makes one yearn to reinvent them as habitable homes.
It is not difficult to see why old barns inspire the imagination. The high-peaked timber shaped beams and the rich patina of centuries-old boards have a quintessentially American feeling, connecting us to our pioneer roots. The appeal of soaring spaces.
Whether you plan to use your barn to keep animals, make a work-shop, or just add storage space for the stuff that has been accumulating in your yard, one general-purpose design can fit many of these varied uses.
An elaborate and rather rigid system for building structures has evolved in our society. All of us who would build are almost obliged to adopt this system as our own. The more obedient to the system we become, the less variety is available, the less creativity is expressed, the less we are able to change with changing times.
Break from the system — use your brains and not your billfolds to create structures that are affordable, individual, and even safer and more efficient than the mass-produced mundanities of the established construction industry.
Take one old barn and call it home!
With the holidays fast approaching, you may be expecting guests in your home perhaps just for a meal or a party or – maybe for a lengthy stay. We all know our homes are never cleaner than when we are expecting guests, but you might want to consider taking it to the next level, preparing your home to avoid any annoying disturbances.
Let’s start with the refrigerator. Even if your thermostat is set to under 40°, it may not be cold enough to keep the contents safely chilled if your condenser coils are dirty. Located at the back or bottom of the appliance, unplug the refrigerator and clean the coils with a coil brush (available at hardware stores).
You also might want to prevent clogs by cleaning the P trap under the kitchen sink. Place a bucket under the trap, unscrew the nuts at both ends to remove it, and dump out the contents. Wash out the trap in another sink, then reattach it.
While you are at it, you might want to clean the grinder in the garbage disposal. Dump two cups of ice and one cup of coarse salt down the drain, fill the sink halfway with cold water, and run the disposal until the water is gone. If there is an odor, throw in some lemon peels to freshen it up.
Okay, now for the oven. Get rid of excess grease by mixing water with baking soda to create a paste. Spread it on interior oven surfaces, let it sit overnight, then wipe it clean. This is less toxic than commercial cleaners and as for self-cleaning ovens, you really shouldn’t use the self-cleaning cycle right before doing a lot of cooking.
Are you ready now?