A Dutchess County Barn House Redefines Modern Design

The home features modern design with an intimate feel.

By Cathy Lara, Houzz

This upstate New York barn house isn’t a radical design by any means, which is why architect Nina Gotlieb is always a little surprised when neighbors stop by to fawn over the property. “I think a lot of people need to actually see modern architecture and design in person in order to understand that a home can be warm and intimate and everything they want it to be, regardless of any prescribed style,” says Gotlieb.

Despite the challenge of securing approval for a new build site, Gotlieb persisted and was finally able to build her dream barn house on stunning terrain that’s dotted with hills and rocky outcroppings — features that endear the house to Gotlieb even more.

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Houzz at a Glance
Who lives here: A weekend home for a Brooklyn, New York, couple who love to entertain
Location: Clinton Corners, Dutchess County, New York
Size: 2,700 square feet; 3 bedrooms, 2.5 baths, den

Actual Size Projects, original photo on Houzz

When your driveway is half a mile long and none of your neighbors are within plain sight, the idea of a front or back door can safely go out the window. “When guests pull up the driveway, they usually use the door at the top of the stairs as the main entrance,” says Gotlieb.

“The barn house fits in with its surroundings more than most of the other homes in the area, which are mostly cookie cutter houses,” says Gotlieb.

Actual Size Projects, original photo on Houzz

A fire pit visible from the interior and the pool area makes summertime night gatherings an outdoor affair.

Actual Size Projects, original photo on Houzz

Gotlieb’s favorite part of the weekend home is the kitchen. She sized the island with wider dimensions to accommodate a number of cooks and handlers working at the same time.

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 Actual Size Projects, original photo on Houzz

The house sees its fair share of weekend and summer guests, so Gotlieb maximized the availability and functionality of public spaces. The most coveted lounging area in the house is the covered porch on the second floor, a lovely spot for watching the rain fall.

Actual Size Projects, original photo on Houzz

Eye-level windows in the master bedroom frame the forest views. Bud vases from CB2 filled with copper BB pellets form the raindrop-like installation above the bed. His-and-her face pillows add a whimsical touch.

Related: Decorate With These Throw Pillows

Bed frame: custom, Jay Brennan Fine Woodworking; face pillows: K Studio

Although the home speaks the architectural vernacular of other barns nearby, there is a whisper of Japanese influence inside: cranes wallpaper by Florence Broadhurst, minimalist furnishings, simple lines and unobstructed vistas.

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Although Gotlieb built the house for weekenders, the house could easily convert into a full-time home. “Right now, the bedrooms are made for crashing, so we made them smaller and the gathering spaces larger,” says Gotlieb.

 Actual Size Projects, original photo on Houzz

Gotlieb uses wooden crates as bookshelves in the guest room and added suitcase racks for easy access to weekend bags.

The windows have a great Underwriters Laboratories (UL) rating and are made just over the border in Canada by Loewen, which employs green practices, including recycling scrap wood. Gotlieb also used a natural spray-foam insulation in conjunction with a fresh-air return system to keep the house tight yet breathable; mold is never a problem.

The labor and materials that went into the house were local. “We looked into doing solar panels but ditched the idea after finding out we’d have to clear about 3 acres of trees — a lesson learned there,” says Gotlieb. “Sometimes what seems green might not actually be the most responsible decision.”

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