The Barndominium Revolution: A Fusion of Elegance and Functionality

The Barndominium Revolution: A Fusion of Elegance and Functionality

In recent years, a new architectural trend has emerged that challenges traditional notions of home
design: the barndominium. Combining the utilitarian nature of a barn with the modern amenities of a
condominium, barndominiums have captured the attention of the American public, especially in states
with agricultural roots like North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and in the Midwest.


Karl Nilsen, a real estate developer from Connecticut, is credited with coining the term “barndominium”
in 1989. Nilson had wanted to create planned communities around the idea of raising horses. Like how
country-club homes are built around a golf course, Nilsen decided horse-lovers might enjoy a similar
concept. He believed these homeowners should have space for their living quarters and horses in one

More recently, barndominiums found their modern popularity through reality TV. In a 2016 episode of
the popular HGTV show Fixer Upper, Chip and Joanna Gaines converted a barn into a contemporary
home in the Waco, Texas area. This unique blend of design was then further popularized by social media
influencers and the influence of the Gaines’ brand, Magnolia Home, released in Target.

What Characteristics Make a Barndominium:

Barndominiums blend the agricultural heritage of barns with the contemporary comforts found in
condominiums. The exterior maintains classic barn architecture, featuring a steep-pitched roof, large
doors, and large porches. Internally, the space is divided just like any other living space typically
highlighted by the addition of workspace and a seamless transition from indoors to outdoors.

Open Concept Living:

A hallmark of barndominium design is the emphasis on open concept living spaces due to the exterior
walls being the only load bearing walls, allowing the interior walls to be customized to fit the need of the
homeowner. The interior typically features expansive, unobstructed areas that allow for versatile
furniture arrangements and ample room for hosting guests and family.


Barndominiums often incorporate a mix of traditional and modern materials. Reclaimed wood may be
used for flooring, beams, and accent walls, maintaining design aspects and textures of an old school
farmhouse. Meanwhile, materials like steel and concrete incorporate the emphasis of durability and
livability in these designs.

Energy-Efficient Features:

Sustainability is often a consideration in Barndominium design as they are most suited to rural lifestyles
that are on the grid in a more limited way than houses in the suburbs or urban areas are. Sustainability
needs to be incorporated into these designs as a plumber or electrician may be over an hour away. The
main ways that barndominiums focus on sustainability in their designs are through large windows
strategically placed to capture natural light, energy-efficient appliances, and well-insulated structures
contribute to reduced energy consumption. Some Barndominiums even integrate solar panels or
rainwater harvesting systems to further enhance their eco-friendly footprint.

Embracing outdoor living:

The connection between indoor and outdoor spaces is a crucial element in barndominium design.
Expansive porches and patios provide opportunities for outdoor living, allowing residents to enjoy
nature and fresh air. Because the garage and workspace are typically integrated into the interior, the
transition from outdoor to indoor becomes more blurred, making barndominiums the perfect
architectural opportunity for the rural homeowner who works the land they live on.

Barndominiums represent a utilitarian approach to residential architecture, redefining the concept of a
what comprises a contemporary home. By combining the charm of barn aesthetics with the convenience
of modern condominium living, these unique homes are a blend of tradition and innovation. As
homeowners seek more personalized living spaces, Barndominiums that can come as shells and kits are
poised to remain at the forefront of affordable architectural trends, inviting us to reconsider the
possibilities of contemporary living.