Over time, a structure’s function melds with physical signs of use and emotions that filled the space. It’s like a tree limb that extends over a precarious trail. After decades of hands gripping the limb for support, it becomes polished to a velvety hold. Sanded to a fine finish by years of touch, that tree shapes the human experience as much as humans have shaped the growth of tree.
In the renovation of manmade structures, many spaces end up losing the essence of their original purpose. The unique heritage of function and nostalgia tends to receive little more than a nod, in lieu of modernizing a space.
Off in the foothills of the eastern Cascades, in Washington, is a renovated barn that, through maintaining the dignity of its original purpose, has avoided such a fate.
Since 2010, the massive post and beam Canyon Barn has been a three-bedroom house. It was originally built in the early 1900s, and used a barn for the bulk of the twentieth century. When the 3,875-square-foot barn was repurposed into a home, the essence of its origin was maintained – physically and in spirit.
All of the siding, paneling and flooring were repurposed from the original barn or nearby structures facing demolition. The interior doors and the fixtures were scavenged from the property, including the huge steel pipe that is now the primary fireplace. While walls and sliding barn doors were added to frame out bedrooms, the main room is open to the high, raw-beamed rafters that have been in place since the day the barn was built.
The repurposed barn, designed by MW Works Architecture+Design, displays the convergence of form, function and sentimentality in every corner. And in maintaining so much of its history, the Canyon Barn was at once much more than a house. It was a home.
Weekend Cabin isn’t necessarily about the weekend, or cabins. It’s about the longing for a sense of place, for shelter set in a landscape…for something that speaks to refuge and distance from the everyday. Nostalgic and wistful, it’s about how people create structure in ways to consider the earth and sky and their place in them. It’s not concerned with ownership or real estate, but what people build to fulfill their dreams of escape. The very time-shortened notion of “weekend” reminds that it’s a temporary respite.
Photos by Tim Biess