Every person considering a timber frame home has a completely unique vision. This is because each of them experience different moments of inspiration along the way. And, before they ever met with Riverbend, those moments of inspiration were already influencing their future home’s design. This article shares how some of Riverbend’s past clients found their inspiration and how those perfect moments beautifully influenced their timber frame dream home’s design.
For as long as the classic tradition of timber framing has been around, so has the timber frame barn. The quality and design of this age-old style has inspired numerous modern timber frame barn homes. For many people, the inspiration to build a barn style home is quite simple. They spied an old barn and became fiercely determined to recreate its open, unembellished look in their new home. There is no better example than that of Patty’s barn style timber frame home.
“I saw an old barn tucked back in a grove of poplar trees,” says Patricia*, who goes by Patty. “And I just knew that we needed to stop.” Convincing her husband, however, took a bit longer. The couple was amidst an hours long car ride with hundreds of miles yet to travel. But Patty was adamant. “I made him turn around anyway and drive back so I could get a closer look,” she laughs.
It was much more, however, than a turn on a narrow, country highway. It was the turning point in their long-cherished dream of a timber frame home. Patty explains, “We were probably about 50-feet away from this old, weathered barn, tromping through knee-high brush, crickets jumping and who knows what else buzzing around, and we just both stopped and looked at each other. It had suddenly gotten real quiet. And, we just…we just knew this was it for us, for our family. We both had goosebumps.”
Patty says she can’t really explain it any better than this, but her Riverbend Barn style home, based on our Barlow design concept, stands today on its Washington acreage as a timber testimony to the veracity of that single moment of inspiration. And, perhaps she doesn’t need to explain it. After all, little embodies timber framing more than a barn home.
The tall, open spaces with timber framing flowing throughout, iconic cupolas, airy breezeways, and clerestory windows of Barn style homes echo with centuries of tradition. And, each of these unique architectural elements lends a refreshing, natural appeal to barn homes. The result is a particular look and feel that is dramatically different from that of any other architectural style. “There is absolutely nothing I would rather do,” says Patty, “than sit in my kitchen with a cup of coffee in the morning. It’s a huge, vaulted space with tons of light. [It’s] everything I ever dreamed of in a barn home.”
While some are attracted to barn homes, the distinct architectural style and use of timber in the centuries-old homes built in the countrysides and small villages of Europe are what others envision when dreaming of a timber frame home.
After 40 years designing and building timber homes, we have heard plenty of charming anecdotes from those smitten with European style architecture. Sometimes it’s as simple as something seen on television or a treasured memory shared by a grandparent. And, once struck with an affinity for European style, these clients rarely change their minds. The next couple presents a perfect example.
Jack and Lila shared their story via email, and what a story it is. The couple’s three-week European river cruise ended up taking place in the middle of a horrific drought. “We laugh about it now,” writes Lila. “But at the time, at least until we escaped the boat, it was quite a disappointment.”
With the Rhine, and every other river on the itinerary, at or near historically low water levels [i], their small cruise ship sat low in the shallow waters, so low in fact, that they couldn’t see many of the stunning European castles and churches on the banks, and certainly couldn’t dock to tour them. Exactly how then, did Jack and Lila find any joy in their journey, let alone inspiration for a new dream home?
“We got lucky,” writes Lila. “Because we had gotten quite friendly with another couple who had friends spending the summer in the Upper Middle Rhine Valley.” The four disembarked and the rest, as the saying goes, is history. Jack and Lila traveled extensively through the Rhine Gorge and then beyond, falling deeper in love with European style architecture with each passing day. Lila writes they hadn’t yet returned to Ontario before deciding their timber home would emulate the stately, yet warm, country manors of Western Europe.
The enchanting allure of European style homes is perfectly reflected in the stone exterior of Jack and Lila’s home. Accented by decorative gables and steep roof pitches with hints of elegant timber connections, their single-level home rests on a rolling hillside much like those from which they first drew inspiration.
“Jack is retired now,” finishes Lila. “And we sometimes just sit in our courtyard and marvel at what we built. And to think, it all started on the muddy banks of the Rhine.” Jack and Lila’s home was based on the Aberdeen, modified for single-level living, allowing the couple to easily age-in-place.
Sometimes, it is more than a single moment or vacation memories that inspire a Riverbend owner. For some clients, it’s a lifetime of both.
Mountain style home owners have a wide variety of stories about why this style of architecture is the only one for their timber frame home. But one thing they all have in common is this: They love the mountains, and many have a lifetime of memories, just like Tom and Marie.
“We are a family of skiers,” says Marie, a self-described “fit and fiesty” 70 year old. “We all ski, even the grandkids who much prefer snowboarding, humor us old folks now and again and ski with us.” The active couple has five grown children, 14 grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren. “It’s a full house at holidays,” laughs Tom. “But we love it. It’s what we always dreamed of when we thought about building a timber frame home.” And build it they did.
Growing up in the Colorado portion of the world famous Rocky Mountains, the couple were high school sweethearts, married young, raised a family, and worked hard. “Very hard,” Marie emphasizes. “We were always working, Tom put in far too many late nights and I always seemed to be chasing children or volunteering.”
Of course, the family was never too busy for the mountains, traveling to virtually every ski area within a two-day drive of their Denver area residence. After retiring several years ago, the couple worked with Riverbend to design and build their Mountain style home.
Marie says there was never any question as to what architectural style their home would be. “We have spent our whole lives in the mountains,” she says. Would she say that the mountains inspired their Riverbend home? “I would say we have had the fortune of being inspired by the Rockies every waking moment. It was Mountain Style or nothing.” Marie and Tom modified the Mayson.
Those who ski or hike love and appreciate the mountains in which they spend so much time. Those who delight in a book and some solitude feel the same. With such breadth of appeal, it likely comes as no surprise to read: of the 5,000-plus timber homes we have designed and built, a good percentage were Mountain style. For some, however, nothing but a Craftsman will do.
Whether you find your inspiration from an age-old barn, an authentic Old-World manor home, or a mountain hike, your Riverbend designer works with you to capture the moment that first inspired you, encapsulating it and preserving it for generations to come. Make your dream a reality with a design you love– for the home you always wanted.
Are you ready to start your dream? Download or order your 30-page booklet today.
*some names and identifying details have been changed or omitted based on individual owner preference
[i] Read more about how both high and low water levels impact European river cruises, including the 2015 trip that Jack and Lila were on, here.
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