Wednesday, January 07, 2009

The Party Barn




My latest fantasy? A party barn. OK, so living in a high rise might be a bit of a hindrance to making this fantasy come true, but a girl can dream, can't she? It seems that when these lucky barn owners create their party spaces, there is an incredible amount of ingenuity, practicality, and creativity that goes into planning them.



I was greatly inspired by the barn at the Norfolk, England farm of garden and freelance designer George Carter (image at top and above). One enters the party room via tall double doors in which only the bottom section opens. There are fanciful console tables, black painted pyramid sculptures (what Carter calls indoor topiaries), and a musicians gallery that looks out over the room. Such a chic space in which to entertain. If I were to have a party barn, I think I would design mine along these lines; for me, it would be a place to throw caution to the wind and to experiment. Oh, and to have fun too!


Bunny Williams and John Rosselli's barn was designed with entertaining in mind, and comfort seemed to be the driving force behind the design of their space. I can imagine that you might arrive there as a guest on a Friday evening, and you wouldn't want to leave the cozy rooms until late Sunday. Add a few good books, some libations, and a little nosh and you've got the perfect weekend.


And the barn that is generating a lot of buzz now is that of Ina Garten. This is a building that was very well thought out, but then again that is what one would expect of a serious cook and an authority on entertaining. But there is nothing cold and sterile about Garten's outbuilding. Garten is fond of the word "earthy", and this is a perfect label for both her food and her party barn as well. It's a simple space- quite down to earth- but warm and inviting too.

(Images of Carter's barn: British House & Garden, Jan 09, photographer Rory Carnegie. Images of Williams and Rosselli's space: "An Affair with a House". Garten's space courtesy of House Beautiful, Nov 09, photographer Simon Upton.)

20 comments:

  1. Such a wonderful fantasy! I tried to find a barn but I'm thrilled with my church and hope to have it in full entertaining mode this year - that's my goal. You've given me great visual stimulation - Thank You !!

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  2. Mary- I'm sure your church will look divine!

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  3. My cousins have a huge party barn at their summer house in New Hampshire. It was purpose built for parties in the 20's. It's an incredible place, looking over the lake and then the mountains. Great place to have cocktails and watch the sun set, as well as to dance the night away.

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  4. Meg- Now that sounds like fun! I bet that barn has seen a lot of wild times!

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  5. That first is my favorite - staggeringly beautiful and dramatic. But for practical entertaining reasons, barn renovations floor plans which also have allocated space for a guest house are huge winners.

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  6. Jennifer - Maybe I should start calling my detached garage a party barn. Much more chic. These are terrific and I hand not seen Carter's so that is a treat. Gambrel also has a party barn in Sag Harbor - a small picture of it is in Dec. 08 WOI. Let me know if you would like the scan.

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  7. p.s. I understand if it takes a while to get back to me as you are likely ironing your napkins. :)

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  8. I actually went to CA (San Luis Obispo) for New Years and went to a party barn...have to say it was one of the best parties/venues I've been to.

    Definitely something you must experience once.

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  9. Not sure how much you know about George Carter but he is a DIY-er of the highest order. I've got tons of pictures of his homes, gardens and projects. Now I see I need to add the new issue of Br. H&G to my shopping list!

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  10. Wow! I like your fantasy! Really cool place to Party the night away!! Great Post!

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  11. What a cool idea! I like the range of possibilities you found. The first one stands out for me, its sophistication is gorgeous. Thanks for posting.

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  12. Anonymous1:13 PM

    Bunny Williams' "barn" has been open during the Trade Secrets Garden Event, which takes place in Sharon, CT during May, and during The Garden Conservancy's Northwestern Connecticut Open Days tour. The "barn" is fabulous--the dining room, in a conservatory, overlooks a formal (but not stuffy) garden. A bedroom is upstairs with potting, storage and kitchen tucked beneath. A porch, too. But the living room/library is beyond special--one woman exclaimed to Bunny (yes! she is always present, accessible, warm and welcoming) that this is her "husband's favorite room EVER!" While decorated impeccably, it has a "lived in" conviviality.

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  13. I had the opportunity to see a lovely home designed by an architect friend. He had created a party barn concept in the 2 car garage. The garage was finished to a high standard, with a vaulted ceiling. It had a large metal chandelier in it, and the side of the garage (the house was U shape, the garage being one part of the U and the master being the other, a courtyard in the middle) had big sliding doors so you could open them to the courtyard if you were having a party. He said he envisioned it being used for children's parties. I thought it was quite a novel concept!

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  14. Great to see you back, Happy New Year! And the last few posts are terrific.

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  15. I'm late to the party today. Been consumed with blogger technical snags. Just wanted to say the Bunny/John barn is an all-time fave. Very iconic.

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  16. I am happy to say that I was in Bunny's barn during one of the Trade Secrets events that Anon. memtioned, and it was FABULOUS! My favorite part was the dining room. The only thing better was meeting Bunny herself!
    I am the proud new owner of my very own antique barn!
    Fun post- thanks! joan

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  17. Great pictures. I agree a beautiful barn room is the best place for a party or more. When I was a younger lad my Uncle Murray had a beautiful barn/guest house where we, with family and friends would have a private Christmas Midnight Mass. I can't think of a better place then a barn for such an occasion. Best, Homer.

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  18. I have caught the Party Barn bug too! These pictures are all so pretty. Ina's is my fave...I love all the natural textures. Thanks for sharing!

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  19. George Carter's decorative twists are wonderfully unusual - I like all that you show, and point out, (the double height doors, the console and the topiaries). And yes, doesn't a barn provide such enviable space, (height)? Like you, with high-rise living, I can only dream at the moment. But that's good too!

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  20. We did a cover story on a great party barn in Leesburg, VA a couple years ago -- amazing. I didnt' realize there were so many out there!

    http://www.washingtonspaces.com/2006/6/articles/an-old-red-barn-gets-a-new-life

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