Specht Hapman was approached by a Manhattan-based couple to reinvent a historic gambrel hay barn that had suffered severe damage in a catastrophic fire. The barn was one of several buildings on a 10 acre dairy farm located in Wilton, CT, and the couple where hoping it could be turned into a weekend escape from the hectic pace of their lives as Broadway producer and fashion editor. The final result was a mega modern 4500sqft masterpiece now called the Charnin Residence.
From the outside, the barn keeps its traditional gambrel appearance complete with the pre-existing grain silo. By doing this, the new home keeps its contextual link with the surrounding buildings and also adds a touch of fairytale whimsy to the otherwise modern home.
The entrance to Charnin Residence is via a flagstone walkway, which leads up to a covered porch contained within a void of the facade. Flanked on either side by a pair of trees and surrounded by a natural rock fence, the weekend retreat offers an instant sense of relaxation and quiet repose.
The grain silo is located at the back of the home and a covered walkway connects it with the main building.
On the interior, Specht Harpman removed the 2nd floor to create a large and grand double volume social zone. This main level includes the kitchen, dining and living room, a private office, a suite for a live-in maid and a seed-starting room for the garden. The upper floor is where the master suite is located as well as a library, another private office, wardrobes and access to the gardens and swimming pool on the north end of the site.
While the dining and living room are within the double volume space, the kitchen is contained within a more intimate space with its single story ceiling. Layering into this more intimate feel is the natural wood cabinetry and the dark countertops.
Taking a cue from the original purpose of this historic gambrel hay barn, the kitchen also features a farmhouse sink with exposed apron.
Above the kitchen is the master suite. Here, the bedroom is fitted with windows that look out and down to the dining room – while the ensuite overlooks the living room.
The master bedroom has a unique architectural detail that connects the headboard wall with the ceiling. Without the recessed white niche and the exposed white beams, the bedroom would have felt too mute. Now, instead, it has a dynamic in keeping with the social zone below.
with a large soaker tub taking center stage, the ensuite is as comfortable and elegant as the rest of the residence.
With its beautiful polished concrete floors, exposed maple framing and custom woodworking, it’s hard to believe this lower level was once used for hay storage. Now, it’s a warm and cozy modern weekend retreat, perfect for living and entertaining. Photography by Michael Moran