A timber frame barn can be much more than a space for animals or equipment storage. Thanks to their honest aesthetic and open space, these structures are gaining popularity as party barns and entertainment venues.
What Is a Timber Frame Party Barn?
A party barn is a timber frame structure that looks like a traditional barn—but can easily transform into a space for gathering or entertaining. As a timber frame structure, it has all the essential elements of this type of construction, including exposed heavy timbers, wood-to-wood joinery, and plenty of open interior space.
What Else Can You Do With a Party Barn?
Timber frame party barns are multipurpose buildings. Here are a few ideas:
- Wedding Venue: No matter the size of your wedding, party barns can set the scene for a grand experience or an intimate affair.
- Family Gatherings: Thanks to their cozy feel, party barns also work well as family gathering spaces for anything from a birthday party to a baby shower to a graduation celebration.
- Yoga Classes: With all that open space, party barns are great for meditative, low-impact movement like yoga.
- Car Barn: It might be a good time to invest in iconic vintage cars and trucks. For a long time the auto industry said that electric cars wouldn’t work, couldn’t achieve the range and performance, and even if they did, nobody would buy them. Although reports of the demise of the internal combustion engine may be exaggerated, increasing global wealth means there’s more money chasing a finite number of classic vehicles. Once you’ve begun acquiring your collection of classics, a heavy-timbered car barn is (we think) the most beautiful way to showcase and protect your collection. Finally, the sound of a high performance engine echoing in the rafters of a heavy-timbered barn is a welcome antidote to today’s digital world (and commutes are a lot more fun).
- Man Cave: Whether you place it on the main floor or on an upper level of a party barn, a man cave can be the ideal spot for watching the game or relaxing with friends.
- Rental Space: Not sure how often you’d use a party barn? You might consider renting it as an event venue so others can enjoy the space too.
How Carolina Timberworks Approaches Party Barns
Whether it’s the cathedral-like atmosphere or the honesty of the structure, barns seem to resonate with people. Case in point:
“Buy it.” I asked Jim Becher to repeat what he’d just told me. Then I had to admit we didn’t have enough money in our checking account to buy the antique timber frame barn in Pennsylvania I’d been telling him about. “You’ll have a check by FedEx tomorrow morning.” He told me he was looking forward to working with us and hung up.
My next call was to the architect (Jim Meyer of Meyer Greesen Paullin Benson) to ask if he thought Mr. Becher was serious. After Jim Meyer assured me I didn’t need to worry about Jim Becher’s word, my third call was to my Mennonite friend in Pennsylvania, who that morning had emailed me photos of a spectacular antique hand-hewn Oak timber frame barn he was reclaiming. I told him we had a client who wanted to purchase the timber frame barn and build a party barn on his farm.
So began our involvement with Jim and Betty Becher’s fast track project to convert their existing cattle barn into a party barn. Betty and Jim’s inspiration to build a party barn came from a visit to Blackberry Farm in Tennessee, and the fast track part of the project came from Betty’s approaching birthday party deadline.
The first thing we needed to do was get the 200-year-old Pennsylvania barn to our timber frame shop. The reason? We needed to know if it contained enough timber in the right sizes and lengths to build what the architect had designed for the space. It turned out that there wasn’t enough long timber in the first centuries-old timber antique barn, so we acquired a second post and beam barn – this one a few miles outside Gettysburg. Here’s what the first barn looked like during dismantling:
To fully appreciate this project and the party barn floor plans that go with it, it helps to know that it was completed from start to finish in four and a half months. Here are the before pictures:
Jim Becher’s emailed comments after we finished:
“Your crew to the man was fantastic in every respect. Eric is a gentleman in every respect and what a talent and fine representative of Carolina Timberworks. Thanks for a great job and experience.”
Located on over 700 acres in the rolling mountains of Alleghany County in western North Carolina, Bittersweet Farms is home to over 300 head of black Angus and black Belted Galloway cattle.
New Jersey Party Barn
Don’t have an existing working cattle barn on your property to renovate? Build a new party barn either using a relocated antique post and beam barn or use new timbers and build a party barn like this one. Brandes Maselli Architects selected Carolina Timberworks to fabricate and erect the timber frame for a new Party Barn located on a golf course in Bedminster, NJ.
To keep the cost of building a party barn down, new rough-sawn Douglas Fir was chosen for the timber frame. It’s not easy to replicate the patina of time and weather-worn barn timber. At first glance, a piece of antique timber looks gray. A closer inspection will reveal subtle brown, black, and silver shades. We’ve seen new timber faux finishes in an attempt to duplicate the look of aged timber, but it often falls short of the mark (good from afar, but far from good). However, the finish that Michael Brandes’ painting subcontractor applied to these new timbers is, in our opinion, quite authentic.
Three years later, it was decided that the party barn needed a silo. We built the timber framed domed silo roof from Douglas Fir reclaimed from the San Diego and Arizona Eastern Railway, better known as “The Impossible Railroad.” Built between 1907 – 1919, the construction of this 146-mile long railroad from San Diego to El Centro to the east overcame a series of catastrophes and misfortunes including, but not limited to, the Mexican Revolution, a prolonged legal battle, floods, World War I, labor shortages, tunnel collapses, and a pandemic thrown in for good measure.
North Carolina Mountains Party Barn
Upon seeing the photographs of these party barns, a friend of mine exclaimed, “Everybody should have a party barn!”
How to Build Your Party Barn
There’s something wonderful about breathing new life into an old structure, especially when you transform it into a space that’s bustling with happy experiences and memorable gatherings. Are you curious about how to get started with a party barn project? Learn more about our building process and how we approach timber frame construction.