Rejuvenating a North Carolina log barn
High Point, N.C. — ''Revival barn'' is what Pat Stafford's log cabin has been called - and for good reason. She has literally revived the 75-year-old log barn and given it a new role as a residence for herself and her six-year-old son, Kurt.
Any way you look at it, she says, her tiny house is a bargain. It was one of six little barns for which she paid a total of $217.77 when the Greensboro-High Point airport was expanding and required that they be removed. Pat and her former husband dismantled them, log by log, and hauled them by flatbed trailer to a new site four miles away.
It took them two years to reassemble the 20-by-20-foot barn that was to become home; more time was needed to put together a second barn to serve as a shed. They gave one barn away and kept the rest of the logs for later interior use.
Now, four years later (and having become a single working parent along the way), Pat estimates she has invested $12,000 in renovating and furnishing her two-story revival barn with its mini-kitchen under the stairs, living room, dining area, and upstairs bedrooms and bath.
It has been a long process because, she explained, ''I grew up on a farm where we were taught that if you didn't have the money to pay for something, you didn't buy it. So I did the job a little at a time, paying for each project with available funds. An understanding local carpenter and his two sons were doing the work. I would tell them how much I had to spend, and they would work until I ran out of money. Then they would work on other jobs until I had saved enough to tackle the next thing. Just once, when we were closing in a wall and the need was drastic, I resorted to a small one-year bank loan.''
Although she went the more expensive route in choosing hand-split cedar shakes for the roof and copper guttering, she found many of the materials that went into renovating her log house. She salvaged building materials from houses that were going to be destroyed, hauled rock for her foundation from old barn sites, and made regular visits to local trading posts around the area to find old windows and doors and other reusable items.
The enterprising young woman, herself a designer for a photographic studio that services the home-furnishings industry, was determined to make the interior as workable and attractive as possible. So she complemented contemporary seating modulars with antique country pine cupboards, and used Blue Ridge ''mountain finds'' such as the natural willow tables and rag rugs to cover the wide heart-pine floor boards. Almost everything else she found at the auctions and flea markets she visits regularly. The look and feeling that has resulted is updated rustic.
She put stove inserts that burn wood into the rock fireplaces to conserve energy, but she also has a water baseboard backup heating system. ''One thing I have learned from this experience, '' she says, ''is that logs don't insulate well. Once the moisture leaves them they contract and separate from the chinking. So we've had to put up with a lot of cold air seepage.''
Despite her hardships, Pat Stafford entered her revival barn in the ASID/Barcalounger national design competition a couple of years ago. For what the judges termed ''sheer innovativeness,'' she walked away with second prize of
This sum became the nucleus of her present ambitious plan for a new clapboard addition that will add two bedrooms, a dining room, kitchen, laundry room, and sitting room. Building inspectors estimate the new addition will cost about $40, 000, but she claims they little realize how expert she has become with the crowbar and the screwdriver in her salvaging forays. Nor do they realize how much secondhand lumber and how many old doors and windows she has been squirreling away for this expansion.
Pat estimates the new addition will take at least three years to complete because she will do it on her usual pay-as-you-go plan. She admits it is more inconvenient to do it that way, but ''it keeps me free of debt, and that's important to me.''