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April | May 2015
By moving an old barn from Vermont — transporting, rebuilding and reimagining it as a family lodge in Sun Valley, Idaho — Candace Miller, of Miller Architects, took a dream and transformed it into a reality for her clients.
“I had designed a small barn used as a guest house in Sun Valley which my clients had seen,” Miller says. That, along with some of her other projects in books and magazines, motivated Miller’s clients to seek her out. “They had not chosen a barn when they contacted me, but they had started researching them, taking photos and providing dimensions of available barns. Once we decided what would fit their needs, their vision, and how they wanted to utilize the primary living spaces, we collectively decided on one of these barns.”
When the barn was purchased, the barn contractor carefully dissembled it on site, providing detailed measurements. With “as-builts” in hand, Miller generated a 7,500-square-foot design incorporating the barn itself, which was about half that square footage. The barn was then transported and reassembled in Sun Valley. Added to the reclaimed barn, Miller designed the main entry along with a master suite, an artist studio and a garage. Her design incorporated additional reclaimed materials, including the exterior siding, that were sourced locally.
“A barn is built from the inside out,” she says. “It’s not typical of the usual construction of a house.”
Scheduling the project had to be done with meticulous care so that construction wasn’t ongoing during inclement weather, which, in Sun Valley, can happen almost anytime. “Because the construction method is reversed in building a barn, from the inside out, it becomes more of a time-sensitive challenge to dry-in the shell before weather sets in,” Miller says.
The home utilizes an open floor plan concept with dining, living room and kitchen as one expansive space. “We had three points of access from the main living area to the exterior patios,” Miller says. “A two - sided fireplace was designed, connecting the living room and patio, to provide ambiance for outdoor entertaining during summer and shoulder seasons, as the weather permits.”
With the larger spaces of the barn, Miller created small, informal, seating areas, like in the kitchen where a breakfast nook offers cozy seating for morning coffee. Sleeping berths were built for grandchildren in the loft and an art studio with a window seat can be used as a day bed or a quiet spot to curl up with a good book.
“My clients were very involved with all aspects of the design and, in turn, I enjoy working closely with our clients,” Miller says. “With the need for flexibility in accommodating visiting family and friends, we created sleeping spaces in places that were also used for sitting areas. For example, like the studio, in the library there is a queen-sized bed turned sideways for TV lounging along with a window seat, both of which can be used for additional sleeping space.”
The master bedroom and bathroom on the main level have doors leading out to a small, private patio. The master also houses a small sleeping area in the back for grandchildren (which the owners call the “snore pit”) and two walk-in closets.
“They have a spectacular site,” Miller says. “The property abuts Forest Service land, so it has the feeling of endless space. We were able to orient the house in such a way to focus on the outstanding natural features from the interior spaces and also create private outdoor spaces unseen by neighboring properties.”
From its origins as a dream, through all the work required to blend what is old with what is new, Miller and her clients ended up precisely where they wanted to be. “The barn fits the site beautifully,” she says.