The view from Ken and Britton Horne’s large living room windows could easily be mistaken for a depiction from the Civil War, with rolling hills spreading out at the edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains, cows slowly ruminating, resting under huge trees, lonely structures in the distance. The occasional noise of a passing car is the only contemporary interference.
The scene is not coincidental. The Hornes’ homestead is a precious relic in its own right: A pre-Civil War post barn from Greene County, it was deconstructed, moved, and put back together in its current location a few miles from Charlottesville by the owner of Joseph Joseph & Joseph Antiques, Frank Joseph.
The 1839 barn is now a modern, airy family home with open spaces, earthy colors, and a country vibe that’s instantly relaxing. The current barn is also smaller in size than the original, since most of the wood from the missing square footage was not salvageable.
“With a barn, there is a lot of flexibility; the open floor layout was definitely what we wanted,” said Britton, a therapist and social worker.
The project began in 2010, and in April of 2012, the Hornes finally called it home.
“It’s nice to be out here. It’s a slower pace being outside of town,” said Ken. “We love being close to town, yet close to nature.” Nature is right out the door and in the house at the same time. The Hornes have updated the barn to an idyllic retreat with heated wooden floors and modern appliances, but have left some of the uniqueness intact. The staircase to the second floor (the sleeping quarters) is made of tobacco drying sticks, while the banister that runs the entire length of the structure is built with wood from the original structure’s feeding cribs.
The openness is extended to the kitchen, a simple and sophisticated space with a large eat-in island, long black soapstone countertop, professional range, and custom-made cabinets from Saine Cabinetry.
“We had an architect who helped us design the house,” Ken said. “But we were working with the space, where to place the kitchen sink and the oven-range with the exposed beams. How to deal with the beams—that was our biggest issue in the kitchen.”
The wide wooden beams converge diagonally to a focal point that is now hidden by the countertop and a deep white ceramic sink. The beams made it impossible to place an overhead hood for the range and any upper cabinetry. But the lack of wooden shelves fits the minimalist and rustic style the couple was going for.
“What I found myself really loving is the sink in front of the window and looking out to the garden or the sunrise,” Britton said.
For the Hornes, the only downfall of the kitchen is its accessibility. “We end up constantly snacking,” said Britton. “Our daughter, who is 1, opens drawers and gets her chair to steal food off the counter. We are trying to reconfigure where we keep things.”
The stainless steel refrigerator sits along the short wall that divides the kitchen from the mudroom, which is where the Hornes placed the pantry.
The materials were kept local, when possible. Large wood scraps and extra siding from the original barn made the kitchen island stand out from an all-wood interior. Along with the wood, original or reclaimed, the soapstone countertop was sourced locally.
“A few friends had recently put in soapstone and we liked the look and heard it was a good, durable surface,” said Ken. “We liked the idea of supporting the local Alberene Quarry as opposed to foreign sources, like Brazil.”
“Trying to make a house out of a barn can be a challenge,” said Britton. “We definitely had to make some adjustments, tweak some of the design, and open it up to let light in. We wanted to honor the barn, yet needed it to be livable and didn’t want the eye to be distracted.”