Triple Play

Farmhouse fever inspired these owners to reclaim and renovate three barns


By Connie Adair

The owner of this property caught the renovation bug in 2011 when he bought their 100-acre property near Creemore, Ontario, and it wasn’t long before he developed a full-blown case of barn fever.

The owner and his wife had lived on the west coast for 30 years and were unsure about how to renovate the farmhouse to provide big windows and a light-filled space they were used to. While pondering this dilemma, the owner bought three barns, had them dismantled and moved to the property.
Not long after, he started renovating his first barn, creating a studio and guest space. Next he dismantled, moved and rebuilt a barn for animals. Then he turned a reclaimed barn into an addition to the original circa 1860s farmhouse on the property.

Architect Jim Campbell of Rockside Campbell Design in Duntroon, Ontario was the one who suggested that one of the dismantled barns should be used to create an addition. The approximately 29X40-foot addition is now a one-bedroom extension that was built using the barn’s timber frame and insulated concrete forms. It has drywall on the interior walls and the exterior is clad in weathered corrugated steel roofing from one of the old barns.

The addition was constructed by Ed Leimgardt of Ed Leimgardt Contracting in Stayner, Ontario. Leimgardt’s company did all of the additions and renovations to the farmhouse, as well as the pergola and gardens. They did not erect the studio barn but did all the finish work on the interior, windows, porch and outdoor shower.

The farmhouse addition includes large panes of glass and an open-concept design to give the owners the bright open space they wanted. When they are in the mood for a cozier space, they can retreat to the farmhouse, which has a library/office and media room on the main floor. It also has a bathroom, two bedrooms, craft room, nanny’s suite and an exercise area on the second level.

Guests enter the house through the original side door, which is off an enclosed veranda. The new, large gallery entrance is an ideal space for hanging art. It can also be used as additional entertaining space. It is spacious enough for a large dining table or can be used as a dance floor, Campbell says.

A 10-foot hall, which links the barn addition to the farmhouse, has a powder room and a laundry room. The main floor of the addition has a kitchen and an open-concept living and dining room. The galley kitchen is designed for the serious cook who likes efficiency and function but doesn’t want the party happening in the kitchen.

The kitchen cabinetry was created by Steve Whitley of Wood by Whit in Avening, just outside Creemore. Whitley also did all of the custom millwork throughout the house.

The living room has floor-to-ceiling windows and a wood-burning fireplace with a sheet metal facade that had been left outside to weather.

Linked to the same chimney there is an upstairs propane fireplace in the master bedroom that is located at the foot of the bed. The beauty of the propane fireplace, aside from not having to carry wood to the second floor, is that it can be turned on at the flick of a switch and can also be put on a timer, the owner says. The second floor also has a dressing room and two bathrooms connected by a shower.

The house relies on cross breezes from its many windows to cool the space. A propane-fired boiler, supplemented by a passive solar system, heats the home.

“The studio barn was in terrible shape,” says the owner. “I didn’t know whether to keep it or knock it down. I called the Mennonites and they took a look. They said it had good bones and that they could take it down and put it back up.”

Instead of putting the barn back on its original location, where a water course ran through it, it was moved to a hilltop location. “In the old days, they built barns with water courses through them. The water was used to cool milk before there was refrigeration. The fieldstone and mortar foundation had been destroyed by the freeze/thaw cycle over the years because the barn was empty,” the owner says, adding that the body heat from animals in the basement keeps the mortar from freezing. Hay and straw on the upper level helped to keep snow from blowing in through cracks between barn boards. “Once left empty, barns deteriorate faster,” he says.
The barn was dismantled, a cement foundation poured and the barn rebuilt using original posts and beams along with a new pine board exterior and a new corrugated steel roof.

When the owner decided to insulate, he called Campbell, who designs one or two barn projects each year and spends the rest of his time creating custom high-end homes.

The interior of the studio barn melds original wood and other reclaimed materials with new locally-milled pine and hemlock. Twenty large windows were installed with the vinyl frames painted red on the outside.

The ground level features radiant heat under polished concrete floors. This level also includes studio space, a woodstove, Muskoka chairs for comfortable lounging and a bathroom. The upper level provides a living room, kitchen, two bedrooms, study and a bathroom.

After completing the studio barn, the owner turned his attention to an animal barn. He found an unwanted 100X60-foot barn on a neighbouring property. His Mennonite crew dismantled, moved and rebuilt the barn on a cement foundation. The simple post-and-beam animal barn has a couple of horse stalls built from locally-milled hemlock.
All of the barn projects feature reclaimed materials – cabinetry is made of old barn boards and door handles were reused – as well as new local materials for a perfect blend of old and new.