From the October/November 2014 Issue:

Barn Raising

    Writer: Denise DiFulco | Photographer: Katrina Mojzesz | Designer: Irwin Weiner, Professional Member ASID | Builder: Sean Tracy |

A couple transform their Hunterdon County farm into a luxurious retreat for extended family

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enlarge | A formal yet authentic-looking entryway complements the original barn structure.
How do you make a new farmhouse look old?
It helps to start with a barn that’s been around since the mid-1800s. Locating and relocating the best-preserved specimens is the specialty of Sean Tracy of Bucks County TimberCraft, the builder of a 15,000-square-foot weekend home for a client in Lebanon Township.

The client, whose primary residence is in New Hope, Pennsylvania, wanted to build a second residence elsewhere in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, where he and his wife could entertain their large extended family of children and grandchildren. Unfortunately, there were no tracts of land on that side of the Delaware River as sprawling and picturesque as the 60-acre farm he already owned in Lebanon Township. The client purchased the property in 1982, using it to grow corn and alfalfa and to breed Arabian horses. He didn’t see it as a prime site for a luxury retreat until the day Tracy showed up in a pickup truck, set up a step ladder in the bed of the truck and invited him to climb up. “Sean said, ‘I’m going to show you the views you’re going to have,’” the client recalls. That was all the convincing it took.

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enlarge | Hiding a television and making it look natural is always a challenge. What could be more appropriate for a country house than concealing it behind a tapestry with a hunting theme? An attached cord allows the homeowners to pull back the tapestry for viewing.
Five years in storage
The heart of the new home is a stone bank barn (one that is built into a hill or bank) that Tracy salvaged from Berks County, Pennsylvania, about 1½ hours from its new location. Tracy keeps an inventory of barns, and this particular one, which he characterizes as “museum quality,” was in storage for five years before he offered it to the client. “When I heard the size of the structure, this one seemed perfect,” he says.

The barn accounts for 2,000 square feet; the remaining 13,000 square feet of space was designed around it and made to look as if it was part of the original. Tracy conceived the floor plans and elevations through discussions with the client and then passed them along to architect John Wolstenholme, a member of the American Institute of Architects and principal of Wolstenholme Associates in Doylestown, Pennsylvania.

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enlarge | here are plenty of options for sitting and lounging in the master bedroom. The homeowners’ assortment of antiques and artifacts also allows for a variety of table options. In this case, a trunk replaces two woven reed jugs used as tables.
Smooth transitions
Seamlessness between the various parts of the home was critical. “You never feel like you’re leaving the barn and entering into a conventional structure,” Tracy says. The salvaged barn materials were incorporated throughout the house, but they weren’t quite enough. All told, Tracy ordered at least 10 tractor-trailer loads of salvaged wood. “At one point I was worried we were going to exhaust the reclaimed lumber supply in Lancaster County,” he quips.

Once Tracy completed the building, he and the client brought in Irwin Weiner, a professional member of the American Society of Interior Designers and principal of Irwin Weiner Interiors in New York City, to finish out the interior design. Weiner shopped locally with the client and his wife for antiques that would be a natural fit for the farmhouse and complement their impressive collection of rustic furnishings and accessories. They also visited New York City for reproduction furniture.

The idea was to keep the mood airy and the decor somewhat spontaneous, Weiner says. That was especially important considering the heft of the wood framing and the liberal use of well-seasoned lumber in beams, paneling and flooring. “It’s got a country feel, but there’s a freshness about it,” he says. “There’s an updated feel. Not like a museum or a period piece.”

He adds, “A lot of country interiors have a certain gloominess about them.” It helped that this client and his wife have a sense of humor and appreciated the use of drums as side tables, for instance. The kitchen is entirely deconstructed, with a refrigerator disguised as a pie safe. It contains none of the cabinetry typically found in a new home. Instead, everything is stored on open shelving and in a small shed within the barn that serves as a pantry.

Perhaps that’s just as well considering the home’s primary purpose is for the entire family to soak in the country and relax. Entertaining large groups is easy at a custom table in the dining room that seats 14 comfortably. The great room—which comprises the living room, a bar area with pool table and the kitchen—allows for recreation and easy conversation. A lower level contains a wine cellar and a rec room leading to an indoor pool with a wall of windows three stories high. There also are some cozier, more private retreats within the soaring spaces: a reading loft on the upper level, for instance, and a smoking room with a masculine, cabin-like feel.

The client says he made a deal with his wife that if they ever built their dream country refuge, he would have the primary say in the design and decor. Not only was she surprised when that came to pass, but she had to bite her tongue when he and Tracy decided, for instance, to take rusty scraps of metal or other odd items and work them into a room. “I keep joking that we have ‘barnized’ her,” he says.

Denise DiFulco, a regular contributor to Design NJ, writes from her home in Cranford.


Overall: architect, Wolstenholme?Associates in Doylestown, Pennsylvania; contractor, Bucks County TimberCraft in Bedminster, Pennsylvania;interior designer, Irwin Weiner Interiors in New York City. Foyer: dresser, Holly Hunt in New York City; chair, John Ros­selli in New York City; rug and stained glass, homeowners; yellow pot, Marché aux Puces in Paris; over­sized desk bell, Golden Nugget Flea Market in Lambertville; Indonesian necklace sculpture, Two Buttons in Frenchtown; umbrella stand, The People’s Store Antiques in Lambertville. Living Room: lighting, Copper Lantern in Beauford,?South Carolina; chairs and tufted sofa (partially seen at right in photo), Ralph Lauren in New York City; plaid sofa, Apropos in New York City; coffee table, Holly Hunt; tapestry, Renaissance Carpet in New York City; rug, Stark Carpet in New York City; drum, homeowners. Bar/Pool Table Area: bar, Bucks County TimberCraft; flag, horns and pool table, homeowners; lighting, Copper Lantern. Smoking Room: sofa, Hendrixson’s in Furlong, Pennsylvania; coffee table, Modern History in High Point, North Carolina; chair with hide seat, Agostino Antiques in New York City; chair with cork upholstery, John Rosselli; bearskin, stove, spears, furs and side table, homeowners; window treatment, Yes Dear in White Plains, New York. Dining Room: table, Bucks County TimberCraft; chairs, Apropos; wing chairs, Ebanista in New York City; lighting, Copper Lantern; painting and sideboard, homeowners. Kitchen: table, Apropos; chairs, Barton-Sharpe Ltd. in Muttontown, New York; cabinetry and open shelving, Village Handcrafted Cabinetry in Lansdale, Pennsylvania; sink, Ferguson Bath & Kitchen Gallery in Ringoes; appliances, Karl’s Appliance in Fairfield; signs and accessories, homeowners. Master Bedroom: bed, S&L Designs through The Seward Group in Darien, Connecticut; bedding and window treatment, Yes Dear; night tables, Modern History; rug, Stark Carpet; lighting, Copper Lantern; plaid wing chair, The Charles Stewart Co. in Hickory, North Carolina; armchair with spindles, Hickory Furniture in Hickory, North Carolina; desk chair, Astoria Imports in Pompano Beach, Florida; loveseat, Apropos; foot stool and armchair with hide seat, Agostino Antiques; table between chairs, Barton-Sharpe; desk, Ralph Lauren; baskets, trunk and accessories, homeowners. Master Bathroom: tub and shower doors, Glass Castle in Flemington; tile, Ottoman Ceramic Designs in Flemington; lighting, Copper Lantern; rug, homeowners. Guest Room with Plaster-and-Stone Wall: bed, Charles P. Rogers; bedding, Yes Dear; rugs, Stark Carpet; side tables, stove and accessories, homeowners. Green Guest Room: bedding, window treatment and seat, Yes Dear; chair, Pottery Barn; chest of drawers, Henredon; lighting, homeowners. Grandsons’ Bedroom: bunk bed, Bucks County TimberCraft; bedding, Yes Dear; rug, Stark Carpet. Indoor Pool: construction, Bucks County TimberCraft; furnishings, homeowners. Wine Cellar: Bucks County TimberCraft.

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