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A Barn Renovation Rescue Mission

A Barn Renovation Rescue Mission

Written by Christen Hong
Photography by the homeowner
beautiful white barns after restoration
Big Barn transformed into the classic white farmhouse the couple had always dreamed of.

Welcome to Three White Barns! This Ohio property consists of the Big Barn (the main home), Baby Barn (the pool cabana) and a third barn that serves as a garage. These structures didn’t start off as a cluster of rustic and elegant farmhouse style, but as dilapidated buildings in need of a barn renovation.

old red barn
Big Barn in its original location, before the move and restoration.

Humble Beginnings

The owner of Three White Barns is an avid flea market enthusiast, who loves the idea of preserving history. So it was no surprise that when she and her husband decided to build their home, they sought to rescue a barn.

“We were fortunate enough to be in contact with a demolition team that had a barn from the 1840s with timbers in perfect condition,” she says. “Whoever owned the barn had always maintained the roof, which allowed the timbers to stay so perfect inside.”

dilapidated red barn before being moved to new property and renovated
Baby Barn in its original condition and location—it clearly needed some TLC.

About 40 feet away, there was a smaller barn, and despite being built in the 1850s, it wasn’t hand hewn, so it wasn’t considered desirable. “My junking kicks in because no one was interested in Baby Barn, so they were just going to dispose of it,” she says. “It’s like separating a baby from its mama. I couldn’t let it happen.” The last of the three barns is brand new, but designed to match the other two barns.

Old red barn before farmhouse renovation
The homeowner fell in love with the 1840s barns and became determined to rescue the pair of structures.

The Barn Renovation

The barn renovation and restoration took about a year. “The most challenging part is finding a barn and making sure you have the appropriate skillset to carefully take it down and put it right back up the way it was,” the homeowner says.

dilapidated barn before restoration
Big Barn transformed into the classic white farmhouse the couple had always dreamed of.

When looking for her barn, she says, “I specifically looked for one that was hand hewn because those are the ones that have that enchanting character to them.” After taking the barn apart and moving the timbers to their new location, you can only imagine how overwhelming it is to see piles and piles of timbers laying around.

Farmhouse renovated barn exterior backyard
The back of the house features two porches and views over the lush property

The owner emphasizes how important it is to work promptly to preserve the timbers. “Exposure to rain and sunlight is what changes their lovely, rich color and makes them turn gray,” she says. She was lucky not to have to deal with any pest damage either, as the timbers are made up of “beech, walnut and some white oak, which are naturally pest resistant.”

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Barn Inspiration

The inspiration for Three White Barns comes from a set of abandoned white barns in the Ohio countryside the homeowner used to pass. “I sent our architect to where those three abandoned white barns were, so he would understand exactly what I wanted,” she says. “A white farmhouse is so classic.”

dilapidated barn before restoration
Dinning Room before renovation.

As for the interior, she wanted the star of the home to always be the timber frames, which is why she chose ebony floors and a crisp, neutral palette. “This is our forever home and in the end, I just want to inspire people to save barns.”

dilapidated barn before restoration
In the renovated dining room, timbers stand out due to the sharp contrast against the light walls.

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