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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