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Westport Barn

Westport, Connecticut

Photography: Eric Piasecki/OTTO
Stylist: Helen Crowther

This long-time client commissioned MPF Architects to design a destination structure on their newly expanded property, one that could provide a private getaway only steps from their main residence. The initial program consisted of a livable structure that could be a gathering spot for the clients’ grown children and friends to use while visiting, the aesthetic wanted to clean and cozy. The challenge for the architect came while configuring the layout to flex from an intimate two-person retreat to a gracious venue suitable for a party of 60 or more. The architect’s design inspiration was to play on the interaction between positive and negative forms, simple and solid barn volumes juxtaposed with oversized windows. There was also a focus on transparency and traveling sightlines throughout the buildings. 

At the building’s center is the main living area, a two-story open-air space that connects kitchen, dining, living and bar functions. Directly off this space is a large glass enclosed sunroom, lofted sitting area and second floor bedroom with en suite bath. The barn has a partially finished basement that includes a laundry room, wine room and storage. The structure’s proportions were critical for the architect to establish both comfort and a delineation of spaces. 

The building materials played a large role in crafting the experience of the barn, the client sought an historic and worldly aesthetic, as opposed to woodsy and rustic. The timber frame was a primary consideration, constructed of white oak that was bleached and sealed. Incorporated between the timber frame are plaster walls, which establish a more residential environment. The timber beams are punctuated with hand forged iron strapping, which match the craftsmanship of the custom railings and balustrades. The floor to ceiling fieldstone fireplace addresses the first and second floor sitting areas, both of which feature antique French mantels. 

The exterior spaces are of equal priority to the client. The pedestrian approach along a herringbone brick path passes by a structured garden, in the center of which is a serene fountain complete with blooming lily pads. That same path leads to the front door and connects to a terrace that wraps the entirety of the north side of the structure. On its east corner, directly outside the sunroom, is an L-shaped outdoor kitchen equipped with wood fired pizza oven. The family enjoys a fully functional cooking space with room for outdoor dining and games. Around the corner is a fieldstone water feature, behind which a hidden TV lifts for prime outdoor sports viewing. 

The interior decoration was a collaboration between the owner and architect. The clients collected all the found pieces during their extensive travels. From the furniture to the lighting to the limestone mosaic kitchen floor tile, the family has a deep personal connection to each item in the space, which brings an added layer of comfort to this brand new ‘old’ barn.