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A pair of time-worn cowboy boots casting a late afternoon shadow across the porch, a long-horn door knocker and a faithful cow dog resting on the threshold. What more quintessential scene can we paint with this warm, rustic Texas home? It is a big does of Texas all under one roof, right down to the mesquite sink. What’s more is that it is not the creation of a Texan, but a Middle-East transplant whose love for horses brought him to the Texas hill country.
By Adrienne Breaux Images by Adam Fortner Constructed using methods perfected long ago, focused on craftsmanship, and made of natural, durable materials, these unconventional homes sure don’t look like anything else in the neighborhood.
Farm animals have been sleeping comfortably in barns for quite awhile, but it’s not the sort of structure you often see humans tucking into at night. Unless it’s a reclaimed old wood barn restored by Waco-based Heritage Restorations. Founded by Kevin Durkin in 1997, Heritage Restorations finds old historic barns, mills, cabins, houses, and other buildings from the 1700s and 1800s to disassemble, move, restore, and repurpose into homes. Heritage Restorations has moved barns and old structures mostly from the Northeast (where the oldest and best-crafted ones are located) to over 25 states and international locations like China, New Zealand, and Australia. You can also find them sprinkled around the Hill Country; Durkin estimates they’ve taken on 50 projects in Texas so far. Yehoshua Gutkin’s reasons for choosing a historic barn for his Frederiksburg home were simple: With only about 200 barn homes so far repurposed by Heritage Restorations, it’s a home like no other, with a charm that fits right into Texas Western style. “I came from Germany where we dream of cowboys and Indians,” Gutkin says. “I always wanted to do something very Texas. And this [house] is very authentic. I kept the character of it, inside and out.” Gutkin’s 200-year-old barn was found in New York, disassembled, and brought back to his six acres of land just outside of Fredericksburg, where he trains horses. At 2,200 square feet, his house features an expansive living room and kitchen, sleeping loft, master bath, and a couple of guest bedrooms. The house was finished last May, and Gutkin moved in over Christmas. Living in historic charm doesn’t mean you can’t live in modern comfort: Because these timber frames can be enveloped in insulation, they’re much more energy efficient than traditional buildings. There’s no heat gain in the summer or loss in the winter. And they’re a great base to add your own sustainable elements, like reclaimed materials for hinges or flooring. The price tag for a custom house runs from $150 to $350/square foot and beyond. And though these structures might not be ideally preserved—where they originally stood and for their original use—this repurposing allows for more beautiful buildings to be enjoyed. For Gutkin, pride for his unique barn home translates to complete dedication. “I don’t want anything else,” he says. “If I ever built another home it would look just like this.” Published in Tribeza Austin Magazine(September 2013).