A Greenwich Barn Fit for Holiday Entertaining

A rebuilt barn becomes an entertainment destination for a Connecticut family.

Photographs by Jane Beiles

When an old barn on a couple’s Greenwich property proved absolutely inadequate for any kind of living, the owners had one thing in mind: Rebuild it as barnlike as possible, but make it an entertainment destination. They enlisted architectural firm Ike Kligerman Barkley, who then brought Connecticut designer Terri Ricci on board to make this dream a reality. “The barn was from the early 1800s. The beams were termite infested, and it was not worth saving any of it, not even the horse stall doors. It was dangerous to have the structure there, so we had to do something,” says Ricci.

With the structure demolished, the clients and their four children wanted a place where both kids and adults could hang out. From the existing footprint, the architects and designer carved out an open living space (with room above for the husband, a musician, and his band to practice), game room, caterer’s kitchen, dining area, private quarters for bedrooms, and a yoga studio. “The back of the yoga studio is a full wall of glass and overlooks a meadow,” says Ricci. Outside, there is an indoor/outdoor fireplace and a pizza oven. “They really wanted a destination on their property that was an escape,” explains Ricci.

The clients also had one more very specific request: The barn must have a red exterior. “We went through sample after sample. It had to be perfect—not too fire engine and not too burnt. We [architect and designer] wanted a black barn, but the client was adamant,” notes the designer. “In the end, everyone was happy, and seeing a peek of red from the main house is really nice.” Inside, Ricci wanted to use as many barn details as possible. The floor is reclaimed and treated with a water-based sealer to preserve an unfinished look. Rustic barn doors separate various zones of the living spaces.

“The main house dates from the 1800s and has had years of renovations and additions, so there are a lot smaller rooms. Since the barn is an open space with fewer constraints,” says Ricci. “we were able to get more creative. It wasn’t the clients’ everyday space, so we could push the envelope a little bit more. They didn’t want it to be fussy, and the only requirement was deep sofas that you could climb into.” Ricci selected a 36-inch-deep Verellen sofa covered in a Romo wool blend in the living room. Vintage French factory lights hang from the ceiling, and a vintage polished steel and glass coffee table sits on a hand-knotted Iranian rug that is layered over a simple sisal. “I always like to add a surprise element to my interiors,” says Ricci. “It’s fun to insert some midcentury touches. Glass felt right to keep the space open and not feeling too clogged.”

In the dining area, a custom white oak dining table is surrounded by motorcycle leather–covered chairs. “I loved the rocker vibe of the leather. It contrasts with the floors and grounds that area, plus it is very forgiving,” says the designer. “I like to mix modern with vintage. It gives a more lived-in feel, and it allows the client to add on after we have gone so pieces fit right into what we have created.”
Perhaps the ultimate luxury, though, is that the couple can fit a giant tree in the barn at Christmastime. Ricci added her signature minimalist chic touch to decorating the barn for the holidays. “We like to keep everything fresh: wreaths and flowers. I stay classic and then alternate my bow style and color year to year,” she explains. “I love exterior hurricane lanterns with simple white lights. I want guests to smell the holidays when they enter the house: lots of paper whites and a balsam and cedar fragrant candle gives an extra blast of holiday on arrival.” Here, Ricci placed tons of lights on the tree and went earthy and chic with gold, bronze and mixed metals. She adds, “There is no way this tree could fit in their main house, so they loved this. It’s the perfect setting for a family holiday.”

A version of this article appeared in the December 2019 issue of CTC&G (Connecticut Cottages & Gardens) with the headline: Merry + Bright.