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Design

Wait, What Are You Doing To Your Barn? The Kids Clubhouse/Art Barn/Flex Progress And The Plan For The Space

OKAY DOKAY. If you are following on social you might have seen that we are quickly turning 1/2 of the barn into a summer kids’ “clubhouse” (you know, like a treehouse but on the ground surrounded by farm animals). Our kids aren’t really in camps anymore (outside of a few) and we have a great property for lots of neighborhood kids to come over all summer and play. But since Gretchen and I still work from here many of the days they can’t really be running around our house making noise. We always knew that an outbuilding would be where we would eventually work, but the other outbuildings are full six-figure renovations and the barn is a fun/fast fix. So we are tackling it first in hopes of creating some distance between us and our nutty neighborhood kid gang. Elliot had the wise comment, she said “Wait, since you are only two and there are so many kids why don’t you work out here and all us kids get the big house?” and I was like, “Uh…er…” So while we are calling it the “clubhouse,” there is a 30% chance that this will be where I work when kids are over if they aren’t playing outside and an 80% chance that we will work out there in the fall when the kids get home from school. All I know is that it was an empty space that didn’t need a ton of work to make it super functional, so I’m designing it to be a kids clubhouse this summer and flex space long term.

I attempted the clubhouse last year (thus the posters and the crafting stuff) but without electrical and with all the spiders, understandably the kids treated it like a garbage fort (which is fine, but they really could use a place to do crafts and listen to loud music). Our contractor quoted us $5-$10K to add insulation, make the window bigger, add paneling, lots of outlets, add some pendants, and redo the flooring.

It’s pretty dang cute and has a lot of potential. I am being VERY un-precious about how we are doing it mostly to save time and money because we have bigger fish to fry. If Brian were handy or if I had the time we would TOTALLY do this ourselves, but my days are so full as-is, and adding this to my DIY plate would be actually absurd.

I should point out that there is a huge second half of the barn that is big enough for all our feed, hay, and where the animals sleep. It’s one of the reasons we went so basic, rustic, and cheap in here is because if we decide to make it more of an actual working farm then this would be a barn again. That’s why we didn’t want to put up drywall or lay down new flooring.

Update! And Where We Are Now

Ok, we had a carpenter add insulation and clad the walls with basic pine paneling we bought from Home Depot and Lowes (1x6x10). It cost about $2k in materials. This photo was taken yesterday and I’m just now noticing the framing around the windows which I might have them change to be mitered edges, but overall I’m loving how it looks (think Scandi mountain houses full of all pine and that’s kinda it).

OOH I’m getting SO EXCITED. In the back there I want to do a big craft/work table with some basic benches that we are hacking to fit. Then maybe an articulating sconce and some cute chairs.

We also want a seating area (the kids are obsessed with jamming to AJR, Imagine Dragons, and Olivia Rodrigo) and you know what there won’t be out here? SCREENS OF ANY KIND (except MP3 players for podcasts and music selection). We are STRUGGLING with the whole YouTube and video game obsession (which we feel like we don’t do a lot of, but my god it’s a daily battle that we are not going to engage in this summer). Hell, I might even get them a CD player so they can play all our old Death Cab For Cutie and Modest Mouse CDs. Maybe we’ll have a mini fridge so they don’t bug us for snacks/drinks so much. The plan is that they have to be either outside or in the clubhouse from 9 am-12 pm (when we take most of our calls) and then they can come in to make their own lunch and then back out.

Now I haven’t fully flushed out the design plan (it hasn’t been a huge priority TBH) but here are a few things I’m loving that feel both kid-friendly and cute for us if we work out there. Nothing will be too permanently installed because every space in my entire life has to be a possible shoot space as well, and who knows, we might have a client who wants us to turn this barn into a bathroom with a big tub or a winter wonderland for the holidays:)

More to come soon. And yes it is rustic with lots of seams and knots. This is intentional because it is still a barn (and we didn’t want to spend the dough on clear pine). I think once it’s all done (and the floors are sanded and restained) it’s going to be so pretty, simple, and fun for kids (and basic enough for us to transform in the fall).

Thanks to Ken and JP for helping manage this tiny project while they are so busy doing other projects (like, say, the River House). And no, they typically don’t do this small of scale, but if you have a whole house renovation in Portland I can definitely recommend Sierra Custom Construction (and ARCIFORM obviously for more restoration jobs).

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KD
2 days ago

Love it, including the window trim!

E.W.
2 days ago

Put in a water fountain! I’m serious. A mini fridge for drinks means those drinks will likely need to be packaged. Instead, do what my sister-in-law did and install a water fountain. She installed one of the ‘school’ style water fountains and refused all further conversations about thirst. Kids who were smart brought their water bottles and the rest visited the water fountain frequently. It worked through three very sporty, rowdy, boys and all their friends. Highly recommend.

Aimee
2 days ago
Reply to  E.W.

Oh my gosh, I love this! I (a married adult without children) have been talking about how much we could use a water fountain in our house. I strongly feel that this is a commercial item that should be made residential as much as possible. Also such a good point about the extra waste/trash that can be associated with pre-packaged beverages.

Kat Selah
2 days ago
Reply to  E.W.

Obsessssssed with this idea. Such a more environmentally friendly option, you can get ones that chill the water so it will taste as good as bottled, and not to mention we have some of the best tap water in the country!

Carmen
2 days ago
Reply to  E.W.

I agree with this!
We installed a water bottle filler (chilled water) during our home renovation we undertook last year and it is hands down one of the best choices I ever made. We also had separate refrigerator drawers installed and both were installed out of the way so when my kids have their friends/cousins over they can help themselves and my kitchen stays relatively free of the constant barrage of children coming in and out for snacks/water etc.

Kate F
2 days ago
Reply to  E.W.

DO IT. We rented a bananas house way up north in Maine for a month of the summer of 2020, and the owner had built it using lots of salvage from the old middle school in town. He has a drinking fountain (chilled) at the entrance to the kitchen, and a stainless steel sink w built-in drinking fountain on the corner in the primary bath. Amazing for rinsing after brushing teeth or just having a sip of water in the night!

Kate F
2 days ago
Reply to  Kate F

(Important non-drinking fountain addendum: He used the old nurse’s office door for the entrance to the first floor bathroom so it said “Health Room”!!)

KD
1 day ago
Reply to  E.W.

I was ALWAYS jealous of a family in our neighborhood who had a water fountain in their kitchen. BRILLIANT suggestion.

Jamie
2 days ago

This sounds like my childhood from the ’50s. My mother sent us on our merry way to play outside and build forts. We were allowed back inside at lunchtime. I applaud you for providing your children spaces for creative play and dance parties! What a fun summer to look forward to.

Tarynkay
2 days ago
Reply to  Jamie

This is how my childhood was in the 80s/90s was as well- outside all day, drink out of the hose if you’re thirsty, come in for lunch, go back out, come back in when the street lights come on.

Patricia
2 days ago

How fun! And what is that headless poodle-looking animal in one of the photos????

Stephanie
2 days ago
Reply to  Patricia

I wondered this, too, Patricia! 🤣

Amy
2 days ago
Reply to  Patricia

That’s one of the alpacas they have 🙂 Must have just gotten a summer haircut!

Deborah
2 days ago

That is such a good suggestion E.W.!
My grandparents in Tucson had one in their backyard and it was so handy and fun to use,! My grandpa made it out of rocks in a cylinder of some sort of metal mesh about 3.5-4 ft high (as I recall) and at the top was a type of water fountain you’d push or twist to make water flow out to drink. Kept us, the neighborhood kids and grandpa out from under my grandma’s feet in the kitchen! 🙂

Donna J
2 days ago

I’d be so tempted to add a mini wood stove so it could work for 4 seasons when the kids get old enough to handle it

Gretchen
2 days ago

This is looking great! Lots of summer fun ahead. And I love the water fountain idea!!

Sarah
2 days ago

Ooo so many possibilities! I vote for adding that LED tape lighting the kids love so much around the perimeter up by the ceiling and hanging a huge disco ball from the middle of the ceiling. Also love the water fountain idea!

Jenn
2 days ago

Are you not worried about critters getting in since it shares a wall with the actual barn? I’d be worried about mice, especially if the kids have snacks/drinks out there.

Julie
2 days ago

This sounds like a great summer plan, and it’s a wonderful space – no over designing happening which is as it should be! I love the inexpensive pine planking and I don’t think the window trim style is a problem for a barn.
As for why the kids have to go to the clubhouse when there are so many more of them than you two… the answer is because it’s Mommy’s name on the title for the house, not theirs (or you paid for it, they didn’t, etc). No need to feel like there is anything unfair happening here!

Lynn
1 day ago
Reply to  Julie

Exactly! You’re the adult and don’t have to negotiate. Besides, they will enjoy having a space they don’t have to clean up as much as they would in the house, and you’ll enjoy the mess staying out of the house!

MKP
2 days ago

LOVE the water foundation idea! Also, did any of you ever make fan forts? I didn’t do it as a kid but learned it from my husband when my kids were little. You take a big king size sheet and get underneath it with a box fan. You hold the inside edges down with books and then turn on the fan. It becomes a giant dome with fantastic air flow on about summer day. You can bring in comfy pillows to sit on and spend the day in the fort. Great for reading, drawing, playing games, etc. My kids loved this in the summer.

Karen
2 days ago

I suggest rethinking the articulating light. Way too tempting to swing from.

Felicia
2 days ago

This is brilliant! Question, have your children always been so close (ie like each other enough to always play together)? What is their age gap?

Meredith
2 days ago

Go for the CD player!!! Our kids have loved theirs for years, first with storytellling CDs at bedtime, then cute kids songs, and now it’s fun watching our oldest start to dig into our college music. They love being in control of changing the CDs, and I kinda love that they experience listening to an album front to back, just like my good ole days. An excellent $30 buy, to the point where we often give one as a gift to parents of toddlers, along with some kid CDs.
(Also now my husband’s eight bajillion CDs that he has INSISTED come with us through three moves are finally getting used. After 15 years of being in an unopened box. We’re going to have the only 9 year old on earth who listens to Pavement…)

V
9 hours ago
Reply to  Meredith

Same. My kid has one we got from the thrift store for $5 (there are always a few players at the thrift store) and she loves it. She checks out audio books from the library and has my old cd collection which is quite a ride–from Dave Matthews to all my Lillith Fair CDs, Boyz II Men (and she gets newer music from the library). It has been a big hit and a way to avoid negotiating over the ipad “for podcasts”

SARAH
1 day ago

why not add a door to enclose the sunroom so it’s a sound isolated office space? I don’t think I’d want lots of gremlins running around my house. Isn’t it better if they just run around outside and in the barn?

Lane
1 day ago

I like the water fountain idea. My grandparents had a water well outside with an electric pump. They had animals so it was important to have water outside. That way there was always a way for us to wash hands or have a sip of water. I don’t know how you provide water to your animals, but if quality is good then you can create an access point for your kids. If you have a well then there’s no need to chill because it comes out at a perfect temperature. I don’t really like the fridge idea because it’s perhaps too much convenience and too many packaged foods. Because you have a lot of land, I would suggest planting (with them) things they can pick themselves. Sweet peas, cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, raspberry, currants, gooseberries, strawberry, apples etc., all can be eaten without the need to go inside. That way they have healthy snacks at the perfect temperature available all summer long. If needed they can pick their own and wash as needed. Sandwiches they can make at home or you can prep in the morning and they can grab later. Love the cabin vibe of the barn/clubhouse. Such a fun… Read more »

JenMarieB
10 hours ago

Something about the space made me think it cries out for a Fogo Island Inn design feel (I was lucky enough to stay there about a decade ago…). Rustic + Clean + Playful.
https://fogoislandinn.ca/ourinn/rooms/

Sarah
9 hours ago

SO cool! What a dream space for a kid. We got a 3 gallon RTIC water dispenser that keeps cool and is perfect for avoiding the constant “i need water” and coming in and out of the house.

Mira
2 hours ago

I love the bright feel of the space and all the wood! It’s going to be such a cool space.

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