The Art of the Barn | Period Architecture Ltd

The Art of the Barn

While Pennsylvania’s cities might be known for many things — cheesesteaks, Hall and Oates, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, and a lovable, googly-eyed, orange mascot among them — it’s countryside is associated with one thing above all others: it’s multitude of old, charming barns. So, it’s understandable that many homeowners come to us for guidance on what to do with an old barn sitting on their property or how to design a new one that looks like it’s always been there.

With the help of our project architects and resident barn experts, Brad Kline and Doug Mancuso, we are going to give you a brief introduction to the art of the barn and explain how to design a barn that fits your equestrian, agrarian or entertainment needs.


“The design for horse barns is very modular, which forces a kind of rigidity in the design,” Doug says. The interior layout, in particular, will be determined by three things: the quantity and size of the stalls, the width of the center aisle, and the types of additional amenities like wash stalls and tack rooms. Unless a homeowner has a unique aisle size in mind, they are generally 16 feet wide. The stalls themselves usually measure 12 feet by 12 feet for a single horse and 14 feet by 14 feet for a mare and foal.

From there, “choices need to be made about details that will ensure horse safety and comfort,” says Brad. For example, a lot of times we’re asked to include metal angles on top of the stall partitions, to prevent horses from chewing on them, or use rubber pavers inside the barn, which provides more support to horses’ delicate legs and hooves than brick or concrete flooring.

Our focus for this new bank barn in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania was to create a beautiful but practical barn that prioritized the horses’ safety without sacrificing quality in the design.

No matter what an owner needs in their barn, our mission is to deliver a beautifully practical structure. “We keep the large details like the timber frame, stall doors, offices, and tack rooms well-crafted while ensuring every detail is functional for everyday use,” says Doug.

This 16,800-square-foot, two-story, timber-framed event center in Nappanee, Indiana was designed to accommodate a wide range of event styles from wedding receptions, community gatherings, business banquets, product shows, family reunions, and more.


When we take stalls out of the equation, the design possibilities for a structure become limitless. When it comes to designing commercial event barns, our goal is to find a balance between creating large, open spaces while making sure it still feels warm and inviting.

When thinking about creating an event barn, the two questions you need to ask yourself are: how many people do you want to be able to fit inside, and what types of events do you want to host in the space? Much of the design will stem from the answer to these questions.

“A great example of a recent event barn that we designed is Sammlung Platz,” says Brad. “The owner wanted to utilize it for corporate meetings, wedding events, and as a community center. So we created a global design to suit all their needs.”

However you decide to utilize your event barn, many of these types of spaces will require larger mechanical HVAC systems, a multitude of bathrooms, and possibly elevators and commercial kitchens. While this might sound like a lot to keep in mind, these are all considerations we will guide you through before starting the design process for your project.


Because we are based in Pennsylvania, many of our clients have old barns original to their property that they’d like to make better use of. Transforming these charming buildings from their original farm-oriented design to an entertainment barn allows homeowners to have a separate space to host guests in a variety of ways. “It’s a space where holidays happen, where you host your dinner parties. It’s an extension of the home,” Doug says.

The key to a successful entertainment barn is scale and proportion. “They are not meant to be grand spaces, they’re meant to be intimate,” says Brad. A typical size for an entertainment barn is three bays, or about 30 feet by 48 feet, which allows it to comfortably accommodate multiple seating groups. “Our focus is on not making them so big that they feel lonely. We want you to be able to use it even when you’re just a family of two or four,” says Doug.

This 1873 dairy barn in Chester Springs, Pennsylvania was used as a storage space for several years, but eventually the homeowners wanted to give it a breath of new life and purpose as an entertainment barn. We helped them reimagine this building so that it could once again be full life. It now includes a driving range, putting green, guest suite, full-service kitchen, commercial-grade bar, and ample, spacious seating areas.

Entertainment barns give you the most freedom to have fun with the design. Here are some ways that entertainment barns have been used in the past:

  • Overnight guesthouse
  • Detached office space
  • Workshop
  • Game room for adults
  • Playrooms for kids
  • “Classroom” space for artists and creatives
  • A place to host parent meetings, book clubs, or garden parties.

Understanding how a homeowner wants to use their space is integral to our architectural process because we design with your needs and dreams in mind. One of the first things we’ll do is explore your ideas and guide you through your options so that we can make a space that is tailored specifically to you.


When it comes to barn design, the believability of the structure is always our main focus. We accomplish this by continually looking to history to see how barns were originally designed. Then, we use history to inspire our own design process down to the smallest details. Building in a believable way, rooted in history, is how we successfully create unique buildings that are tailored to their homeowners but still exude a feeling of instant old.

When done well, a barn has the power to transcend time. And when people walk into our barns, their nostalgia recognizes all of the authentic details and they allow their imaginations, if only for a moment, to transport them to another world.