Proving that it's never too late to save a piece of history, an eleventh-hour reprieve gives new life to an old barn.

The fate of this 19th-century Leesburg, Virginia, barn seemed sealed when it was purchased a few years ago as part of a 400-acre horse farm. The new owners were told that it was hardly worth saving and should be razed. They didn't listen. Instead, they called in a pro, architect John Blackburn, and the stunning redo is full of historic character and contemporary comforts. The owners carefully salvaged original gems such as stable doors and floorboards. Then they put their own stamp on it. Down went one wall, replaced entirely with windows. How's the view, you ask? Spectacular.

Salvaged, Saved, and Restyled for Today
"I wanted people to drive up and have no doubt that this was a barn," says John. "I didn't want to lose what made this building special." He achieved this, in part, by concealing the residential doors behind the original sliding barn doors. By adding under-floor heating to the existing floors, ductwork does not interrupt the space above. The original ceiling, really just the underside of the roof, became an important element to the interior. Insulation was laid on top of the original roof before a second layer of roofing was installed, allowing efficiency for heating and cooling but maintaining the look of the time-worn rafters. The barn's single-board walls were restored and now form the interior walls. How's that for recycling? For the new exterior, a Structural Insulated Panel System (SIPS) was applied over the single-board walls. New wood board-and-batten was added over the SIPS.

Window of Opportunity
A spacious, open floor plan gives the barn an almost loftlike feel. On one of the gabled ends John removed the entire wall and replaced it with windows. Natural light now pours into the space. The treatment is modern, but, because the wall of windows stays within the original footprint, it does not seem out of place with the more historical facade of the barn. History certainly does repeat itself, even in design.

"2007 Southern Home Awards: Best New Home" is from the October 2007 issue of Southern Living.