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before and after

Before & After: A Ten Barn Farm Renovation

by Annie Werbler

On the organic, family-run in Ghent, NY, designer helped transform a rustic goat barn into a comfortable home for humans. Not only do people and animals live together here, but the homeowners get great joy from sitting in chairs watching the kids play outside. “It’s the country equivalent of reality television,” Meghan says, who would admittedly sneak treats to the goats on breaks from the job site. An aptly-named property with ten working barns (including an old farmhouse built in 1790, an enormous barn from 1789, a corn crib barn, a potting barn, a chicken coop barn, a garage barn, a garden and tractor barn, a smokehouse barn, a converted artist studio barn, an old outhouse barn, and lastly, the goat barn), the farm is run by Julie and Roby Harrington and their three adult children, Matthew, Peter, and Andrew. They have plenty of space in which everyone feels free to explore their various interests. Julie makes cheeses with the milk from her goats, while Roby has a large coop with free-range chickens to which he tends. Matthew and his mother started a bakery together, and Peter plants and grows organic vegetables and runs the farm’s CSA and farmer’s market stand. The two brothers reside in the 1790 farmhouse on the property. Andrew, the eldest son, is a fine wine specialist and hosts dinner events on the farm. His partner Meghan — the designer — was tapped by the elder Harringtons to oversee this barn renovation project three years ago, and she has been working on it ever since.

Meghan’s task was to create a residence for Julie and Roby in a barn above the goat habitation. The buildings at the farm are filled with history, and Meghan’s main goal was to reuse as much as she could from any demolition. She painstakingly salvaged and transformed every piece of wood and beam that was taken out into something that could be put back in. A hay door became a headboard, barrel rings became chandeliers, and beams became a bunk room. In addition to sorting through the demo debris, Meghan went to salvage yards, countless antique stores, and even abandoned buildings to find and create all the things that fill the three-story renovated barn home. Roby and Andrew share a passion for wine, and the old horse stalls on the first floor of the barn proved the perfect spot for a wine cellar, which is clad in 98% reused materials. Meghan spent countless hours removing thousands of old nails and screws, powerwashing, cleaning, and curing a mountain of wood for the room.

Despite some mishaps along the way — like the time Meghan’s hand-drawn design plans were devoured by a goat, or the utter lack of straight lines and 90-degree angles to be found anywhere in the building — she managed to create a space that is at once elegant and rugged. It is a working farm, after all, so utility is as important as beauty here. Meghan challenged herself to take old things and fashion new and meaningful details from them that will last a lifetime. The trust and support she had from the entire Harrington clan allowed her to create an appropriate home for a unique and remarkable family. —

Photography by

Before & After: A Ten Barn Farm Renovation, on Design*Droits-Humains
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In a renovated farmhouse filled with reused finishings, designer Meghan Gifford devised an entryway console table from weathered porch columns and a salvaged slate mantelpiece, and paired it with a mirror framed by an old barrel ring.
Before & After: A Ten Barn Farm Renovation, on Design*Droits-Humains
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A view toward the guest bedroom and third-floor hallway gallery. The fiddle leaf fig tree is potted in a reclaimed galvanized metal grain bin.
Before & After: A Ten Barn Farm Renovation, on Design*Droits-Humains
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The farmhouse's second-floor kitchen features a pharmacy counter island with a marble slab countertop and milk glass inserts. Copper pots hang from a rack Meghan fashioned from the old barn's sliding door mechanism.
Before & After: A Ten Barn Farm Renovation, on Design*Droits-Humains
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The original barn interior with a 35-foot ladder to the top.
Before & After: A Ten Barn Farm Renovation, on Design*Droits-Humains
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Sitting in front of floor-to-ceiling glass windows, these lounge chairs offer the best views in the house overlooking the goat pen, fields, and meadows.
Before & After: A Ten Barn Farm Renovation, on Design*Droits-Humains
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A wood-burning stove and cozy seating nook are located off the dining area. The ottoman is made from an antique Oushak rug.
Before & After: A Ten Barn Farm Renovation, on Design*Droits-Humains
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Meghan built the bed in the guest room from salvaged oak barn beams and joists, and upholstered the headboard with wool felt. The bedside tables are made with leftover pieces of slate and hemlock.
Before & After: A Ten Barn Farm Renovation, on Design*Droits-Humains
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In the guest bedroom, Meghan upholstered the family's old dresser with antique woven French straps from Red Chair in Hudson.
Before & After: A Ten Barn Farm Renovation, on Design*Droits-Humains
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The second-floor bunk room is fitted with leftover hemlock beams and barn siding, and the bottom bunks have a window view through frames from the original structure.
Before & After: A Ten Barn Farm Renovation, on Design*Droits-Humains
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A former barn stall was transformed into the home's mudroom, and the entry hall's weathered siding was salvaged from the oldest barn on the property. The one-drawer table was originally used in the first child's changing room 32 years ago, now modified by Meghan to suit its new location.
Before & After: A Ten Barn Farm Renovation, on Design*Droits-Humains
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Looking from the third-floor gallery onto the second, a 16-foot-long slab wood dining table takes center stage in the barn. The family had kept hundreds of wine bottles over the years that are signed with notes from guests and dated for significant events worthy of opening a good bottle. Meghan turned the collection into chandeliers with the help of some old metal barrel rings and barn pulleys.
Before & After: A Ten Barn Farm Renovation, on Design*Droits-Humains
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The third-floor upstairs hall and landing are new to the barn and built above the original rafters. Most of the original hemlock barn beams and joists were kept, and new windows were put in place of the barn's old hay loft door.
Before & After: A Ten Barn Farm Renovation, on Design*Droits-Humains
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The bookshelf was constructed with salvaged hemlock beams removed during the renovation. Meghan made the decorative objects on top with barrel ring and pieces of wood found elsewhere on the property.
Before & After: A Ten Barn Farm Renovation, on Design*Droits-Humains
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A family picture gallery hangs on one side over a view of the kitchen behind a glass and oak railing. Wooden crates below were found stacked in the old barn and now hold wine bottles.
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The third-floor master bedroom features a reworked headboard made from the barn's original hay loft door.
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Meghan took an existing painted pine dresser and upholstered it in an embroidered wool fabric.
Before & After: A Ten Barn Farm Renovation, on Design*Droits-Humains
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The original barn stairs were renovated and a raw mahogany railing was sourced from an architectural salvage in Albany.
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In the first-floor wine cellar, an old horse stall wall was previously used for tackle equipment. The table is made from a 200-year-old marble sink that had been forgotten in the basement of the farmhouse for a century. The sink hole allows the homeowners to drop corks into a cube of glass underneath.
Before & After: A Ten Barn Farm Renovation, on Design*Droits-Humains
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The back entry to the wine cellar, showing more of the original horse stalls. Meghan salvaged all the wood and metal from the farm and surrounding barns. Even the floors were salvaged from a nearby ill-fated job site.
Before & After: A Ten Barn Farm Renovation, on Design*Droits-Humains
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The wine cellar sits behind a hand-hewn beam-and-glass wall, and wood trim is salvaged from a mushroom farm. Vintage leather loveseats and an antique rug were Brimfield finds.
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The well-stocked glass-and-beam encased wine cellar, lit by LED Waves in Brooklyn.
Before & After: A Ten Barn Farm Renovation, on Design*Droits-Humains
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The original wine cellar ground well under the floorboards.
Before & After: A Ten Barn Farm Renovation, on Design*Droits-Humains
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Inside the refrigerated wine cellar, Meghan kept the ground well as part of the plan, covered by glass and lit with LEDs. She handmade the racking shelves and drawers out of American chestnut salvaged from the barn in a design reminiscent of the original horse stalls. Certain bottles hang from old leather horse reins in keeping with the historical theme.
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The original outside view of the "Old Big Barn" and the red barn that was renovated.
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Goats Claire and Coco share the family's home and reside on the first floor of the barn when not outdoors.
Before & After: A Ten Barn Farm Renovation, on Design*Droits-Humains
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The autumn sun setting over the farm's field and meadow.

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Comments

  • One can see that Meghan has a professionally trained artist’s eye as well as a design background in her many creative applications applied to the transformation of a barn to “home”. It is truly an original work of Art!

  • Quite a remarkable transformation. I love that every piece of wood and beam that was taken out was salvaged and transformed into something that could be put back in. It takes a special “eye” and vision to accomplish what Meghan did in this renovation. Her use of the wine bottles in making the chandeliers and the 200-year-old marble sink as a top for the coffee table are so creative. The sink whole is cleverly used to drop corks into a cube of glass underneath! Really top notch, professional result!

    • Whoa. That is STUNNING. So much creativity here – the wine cellar alone has some incredible work, in the wine display and that cork-display table. Really amazing!

      I’d love to know the make of the leather sofas in the wine cellar, if anyone recognizes them :)

  • What a fantastic renovation. Megan used so may of the original parts of the barn in such a creative way to bring the barn to life for the owners. They must love it! Job VERY well done Meg!

  • I love the simple designs that Meghan was able to use in a comfortable, stylish manner. Using sustainable objects is what we should all be aware of in this “throw away” society

  • oh swooooon
    I think I died and woke up in heaven…..love love love salvage and this project is so special.Who would want new when so much history, character and love is to be found on property like this. Well done all and I envy your lifeSTYLE.

  • WOW!!! This is absolutely amazing. This takes such a creative mind. The transformation is unbelievable. I think it all looks so organic and natural. The new use for so many old things is so neat to see. This is definitely a favorite :)

  • I live in this renovated barn and wake up every morning in disbelief of our good fortune. Meghan has created an amazingly beautiful, comfortable space taylor made for us, the clients. Meghan oozes talent!

  • I live in this renovated barn and wake every morning to the disbelief of our good fortune. Meghan has created an amazingly beautiful, comfortable space that was tailor made for us, her clients. Creative talent gushes from Meghan, it won’t be held back.

  • My gosh. Meghan nailed this renovation. She is one of the most talented designers I’ve seen in this venue. Super cool fresh vibe. Love it.

  • Beautiful in every way and then to think it was all done from reclaimed materials. Meghan is so talented and I can’t wait to see her next project.

  • Wow! Amazing. The only thing better than the source of the materials is how great they look. Barn esthetic in a fresh, sophisticated, human feel.

  • Meghan’s work is truly unique. Where every home design seems to include that same IKEA dresser or terrarium or wall tapestry, Meghan product is ahead of her time.

  • Wow!!! This is an amazing renovation… I love how many beams are still exposed! The decor is perfect, too. The whole package is fabulous!

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