This is the This Old House’s 2021 Idea House, a building celebrating historic character while transforming it into a rustic modern farmhouse.

Located on a 4.5-acre farmstead in the beautiful St. Croix River Valley of Minnesota is a 130-year-old dairy farm complete with the classic red barn and milk house. Drawing from the original cloistering of farm buildings the new house is a long linear gabled form oriented to capture views and daylight. The house is cut into two pieces connected by a glass link that frames the front door and an airy catwalk on the second floor. This experience connects the house back to the land and leads to a backyard where a natural stream flows through winding restored prairie.

Learn more about This Old House's 2021 Idea House.

The simple gabled form of the house is expressed in galvanized metal roof, natural cedar and shou sugi ban accents. The entry and dining room flow directly into the natural modern landscape.
The Modern Barnhouse is super insulated from the cold winter months and
allows for passive cooling in the summer.
A private front-porch offers a welcoming overlook toward the barn and entry bridge to the property. Three treatments of cedar create contrast and beauty within a rustic setting.
The two agrarian forms are linked together by a steel and glass link. The entry flows through the house to the backyard, while a second-floor link dissolved in the landscape and offers a perch over the backyard from the owner’s suite.
The main level is organized around a monolith of natural white oak. This furniture object holds the open modern kitchen, pantry and wine bar.
The living room is an open entertaining space focused on the massive chimney with linear fireplace integrated into expansive glass and nature beyond.
A glassy dining room creates a seamless transition to the outside. Wood ceilings make warmth in the space.
Natural light penetrates every part of the house. A reclaimed wood tread floats over blackened steel in this minimalist modern staircase.
Rhythmic horizontal windows align with skylights to create patterns of light. Metal and wood details bring rustic warmth in simple white spaces.
A glass link and catwalk transport the owner into another world. A private hotel like suite awaits on the other side.
The owner’s suite features a bright bathing scape of white solid surface and rich wood details. Windows bring in natural light during the darkest Minnesota days.
Rustic grade white oak flooring and exposed beams bring the historic materials of the dairy farm into bright white modern spaces.
The shou sugi ban cedar of the massive chimney runs through the second level exercise room. Activity and nature play a crucial role in healthy homes.
The simple agrarian form and material pallet of the rustic farm inspire the elegant modernism of the modern barnhouse.
An iconic chimney stands in the red pine forest. The front façade blends away into the naturalized modern landscape with expansive glass. The entire rural campus is part of the greater outdoor experience, making the new buildings seamless with the history of the land.
An outbuilding follows the simple agrarian design while providing an open air workshop along with entertainment space and guest quarters.
A construction time-lapse of the Modern Barnhouse project.