Skip to main content

How this 18th-century English barn transformed into a modern smart home

Forget Pottery Barn — this updated second home is known as the Ancient Party Barn. Originally an 18th-century threshing barn (threshing is the process by which cereal is separated from the chaff), U.K. architecture firm Liddicoat and Goldhill transformed the structure into a residence for digital designer John Sinclair and fashion designer Deborah Harvey, who collect salvaged architectural artifacts.

The buildings — the barn, stables, and dairy — on Staple Farm in Kent, England were in disrepair. The firm worked to salvage what they could and turn the barn into a home away from home for the couple. Though they wanted to maintain the “barn’s brooding presence,” according to the architects, they added modern amenities like a ground-source heat pump, LED lamps, and security systems. The lights, HVAC system, and security systems are all Internet-connected, so the owners can monitor their barn when they travel. There’s also a fireplace built into the spiral staircase, that leads up to the mezzanine sleeping area.

The most impressive part of the barn is how it transforms. It has insulated shutters that can be pulled back to reveal a rotating window that goes up and down, sort of like a glass garage door. It’s operated by an adapted chain-lift. There’s also an aircraft-hanger door that flips up to overhang the patio. These features allow the homeowners to take advantage of the farm’s scenery.

“The original green oak framing was in a state of near-collapse at the start of the project,” the architects explain on their site. They had it repaired, and the barn now has a insulated steel exoskeleton supporting the oak framing.

The barn was shortlisted for the Stephen Lawrence National Architecture Award, and the renovation cost over $682,000 (£480,000), according to Designboom.

Editors' Recommendations

Jenny McGrath
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Jenny McGrath is a senior writer at Digital Trends covering the intersection of tech and the arts and the environment. Before…
New HomePod Mini colors expose how stale Apple’s smart home lineup has become
Apple HomePod mini on table

Apple excels in many areas, particularly with regard to its computing lineup. The company produces mobile computing solutions miles beyond what its competition has to offer. The same could be said about its iPhone. Despite this, Apple is lagging behind in the smart home space. When the most exciting announcement about Apple's presence in the smart home space is a few new colors for the HomePod Mini, something is wrong.

HomeKit has the potential to be a major name in the smart home field. Given how prevalent iOS technology is in day-to-day life, it honestly should be already. Instead, HomeKit compatibility tends to be an afterthought for most tech. Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant dominate the playing field. HomeKit has fallen so far behind that it's not even in the same stadium anymore. The development of Thread has the potential to change this, but the end result remains to be seen.

Read more
How to change your smart home settings for fall
Woman with hot chocolate using smartphone.

Fall is officially here, and that means it’s time to make some adjustments to your smart home! Home automation works best if you update a few settings in key devices for the changing seasons. We’re going over the most important changes to make to your smart devices so that they’re prepared for fall and winter -- and ready to help you save money or time.
Tweak your smart thermostat

Smart thermostats are, well, smart -- and if you have had yours for some time, it’s probably adapted to your schedule pretty well. But if your climate gets significantly colder during the fall, then there are a few additional changes you should make to settings.

Read more
Here’s how to throw a killer Halloween party in your smart home
spooky halloween lighting haunted house

With the spooky season just around the corner, you're probably already thinking about how to throw the killer Halloween party -- one that strikes a perfect balance between scary and delightful. Smart home tech can lend a hand and trigger effects that add to the atmosphere -- or even send shivers down the spines of trick-or-treaters who dare to come to your doorstep.

Whatever your goal this Halloween, you don't have to invest in a lot of gadgets to make it happen. If you have a basic smart home setup, you might already have everything you need to add some chills and fun to your next monster mash.
Use motion sensors to trigger spooky sounds
Have a smart home security system? Then you can probably rig up your motion sensors to play a spooky noise. It doesn't necessarily have to be a motion sensor, either -- your smart camera can trigger other devices in your smart home when it detects motion.

Read more