New York couple buys old barns, takes them apart then reassembles them at new sites as homes.
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For Liz and Bob Skinner, transporting just one barn and converting it into a home was not enough.
They bought their first barn and corncrib in the 1980s and enjoyed renovating them so much that they added a second barn in 1999. Each building was dismantled on its original location and transported to their land in Southampton, N.Y. Bob, who learned carpentry skills during an apprenticeship before college, was the contractor and master carpenter for the renovation. He did, however, hire additional carpenters and helping hands as needed.
The first barn was built in 1840 and the others between 1820 and 1840. After reassembling the buildings, they found the work had just begun. The timbers were thoroughly scrubbed, 250 new wooden pegs were hand-cut to replace the originals and the slate roofs were taken off piece by piece and replaced.
Liz and Bob kept the original interior wood in order to maintain the rustic quality they adored. They also preserved the built-in ladders used to climb to the haymow as decoration, along with long blacksmith-made strap hinges that serve as bathroom towel racks.
Bob and Liz love how their home continues to surprise them. Just recently they discovered initials throughout the barn, and one is dated 1936. For antique buffs like the Skinners, these buildings are the most impressive items in their collection. There’s nothing like knowing that the space in which you live has so much history.
Low-cost additions like cottage birdhouses and a rustic window box help carry the cottage-garden theme.