How To Turn an Old Barn into a Luxurious House

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Everyone has likely heard of Cottagecore, the design aesthetic that took over social media feeds worldwide in recent years, emphasizing blending the home with the natural world. But what about more recent trends? Anyone wanting the cutting edge of fashionable home design may want to look for an even more pastoral type of abode, namely a luxury rehab of an old barn.

Old barns have become an increasingly popular rehab choice for those looking for a luxurious living space in an unexpected locale. The process of rehabbing a barn to live in need not be arduous. In fact, with a suitable barn, it can be a relatively straightforward process. Curious how you can convert a barn yourself? Follow the five steps below, and you’ll soon find yourself in the luxury barn of your dreams.

Why Convert an Old Barn into a Luxury Home?

At this point, you may be wondering why anyone would choose to convert an existing barn into a luxury home. Unfortunately, the history of the trend is a little convoluted.

Old barns have been in demand for as long as hipster bars in Brooklyn have raided upstate New York’s stock to strip them for the look their perfectly aged wood could lend their decor. But unfortunately, the farmhouse-chic trend has taken a dark turn in other parts of the country, such as Kentucky.

Lately, however, the trend has been towards converting these barns into living spaces instead of mining them for materials. While this may seem like novel reuse of space, in reality, converting former industry or commercial spaces into homes has been happening all over the country.

Think of condos being retrofitted into old warehouses in Chicago or even the conversion of former stables into a home outside of Boston in New Hampshire. Of course, such modifications often aren’t as simple as new construction. They can be costly endeavors. It is especially true with issues discovered along the way. So why go through a barn rehab?

There are a few reasons why many individuals find rehabbing an old barn attractive. First, many fall in love with the details and craftsmanship found in older constructions that are often impossible to replicate. Others are attracted to the general style of a classic barn. Finally, some may wish to convert an old barn to protect and preserve the history that it represents.

How to Convert an Old Barn into Luxury Housing

Not sure where to start in converting your old barn? Follow these five steps to ensure a successful barn conversion.

Choose Your Barn Carefully

As noted above, choosing the wrong barn to rehab can be a costly mistake. Unfortunately, there isn’t a home inspector near you specializing in these particular structures, unlike purchasing a home. Therefore, find a contractor to partner with if you aren’t technically savvy. The right partner will help you avoid barns that will be money pits while also offering access to valuable experience that you can use to help save money in the long run.

Worry About Foundation and Framing

If a barn was built within the last fifty years, you might be lucky enough to have one that already has a foundation – saving you a great deal of money. In addition, a foundation is necessary if you are considering converting a barn that doesn’t have one into a living space as it keeps the building secure and from shifting over time.

Now is also an excellent time to look for framing issues, and bowed or leaning walls will need replacing. An engineer should inspect joints to make sure they are structurally sound enough to handle an increased load – this is especially important if you have an older barn.

Reroof As Necessary

The roof is one area where barns often reveal their industrial nature. Depending on the type of construction, the roof of your barn is likely not up to par. For example, it may not be suited for year-round use due to a lack of insulation or weatherproofing.

You can get a good idea of the condition of your roof by inspecting it on a sunny day. If you see sunlight filtering through cracks in the roof, you know that it probably will require replacement soon. Furthermore, mold and mildew found anywhere in a barn can often signify a leaking roof. You should look into this immediately and proceed accordingly.

Bring in Modernity

If you’re working with a barn that already has basics such as electricity and plumbing, you’ll have a great head start for this step. However, most won’t be so lucky since finding a barn with existing electrical work can be a struggle. There wasn’t much need for such basic amenities for most barns.

Luckily, most barns don’t have a finished interior, so there should be plenty of room for all the internals that your living space will require. Local regulations may dictate how often things such as outlets need replacing or other similar details. Just one more reason why proper planning is important. Ensuring all electrical, plumbing, and HVAC work is up to code requires specific knowledge – creating an emphasis on partnering with a contractor you can trust.


Most barns have minimal insulation, if any at all. Therefore, most farmers have little need for an insulated barn unless they have sensitive crops or livestock that may require more protection from external temperature shifts. However, for barn conversions, the initial task of insulating will still have to be done. What this requires in terms of cost and materials will largely depend on the location of your barn.

This is why it is important to partner with someone who will understand the local conditions your barn will face. After all, pole barn homes in Kokomo, IN, will have much different insulation needs than those in other locations.

Interior Design ‘Till the Cows Come Home

Once the more utilitarian aspects of your barn conversion are handled, it’s finally time to focus on the fun stuff; how you want to design and finish your interior space. Depending on your earlier design choices, you can choose to leverage your barn’s rustic interior to create a simply inimitable one-of-a-kind space. You may choose to lean into this look by retaining some exposed rafters or converting a hay bale (or lofted) door into a window or balcony.

You may also want to play up the pastoral atmosphere that a barn invites by incorporating natural fabrics and animal prints into the furnishings. Old farm equipment can be easily repurposed to create creative design focal points that also help to remind visitors of your home’s industrious origins.

Plan Ahead to Make the Most Out of Any Old Barn

By now, we hope you’ve come to agree that good planning is key to ensuring that any barn conversion is a success. Planning will let you maximize your budget by minimizing mistakes and helping to keep aspirations grounded. By having a good plan and following the five steps outlined above, anyone can enjoy the converted barn of their dreams in no time!