A Look at Barn-Style Restaurant Architecture


An Overview of Barn-Style Restaurants in America

There’s just something unique – something special, even – about enjoying a meal in a cozy barn-style setting. Perhaps it’s the naturally welcoming atmosphere that lends an inherent, unmistakable charm. Whatever it is, there’s really nothing like a rustic retreat, a place to go to relax and escape the fast pace of the modern world, even for just a few hours.

External view of the Smythe & Dove steakhouse showing off modern barn architecture

Here, we’ll review the history of barn-style architecture in the United States, as well as the many modern barn architecture styles that continue to make this aesthetic so appealing to so many restaurant owners – and their hungry patrons.

A Brief History of Barn-Style Architecture in the States

The now-famous barn architecture style has actually been around for decades, but its origins aren’t in flashiness or fads. Instead, they’re rooted in basic practicality.

As you are well aware, barns were once an integral part of many Americans’ livelihoods (if not most Americans’ livelihoods). Over the decades, however, modern conveniences and increasingly sophisticated technologies slowly but surely eliminated many of the traditional needs associated with owning and maintaining a barn. As a result, barn owners found other uses for these spaces, with many converting them into living quarters in an effort to get additional use out of them.

Tables showcasing steakhouse interior design aesthetic

For many, this turned out to be a success – and as an added bonus, the charm of this newfound “barn-style architecture” created a sense of elegance and warmth. Then, over the years, new generations of architects, designers, and other creatives found more and more innovative ways to experiment with basic barn shapes, often adding more detailed and daring ideas to the traditional frameworks to keep them from going stale or out of fashion.

Interior view showing off the style of barn-style restaurants

After enough time had passed, practicality was no longer the only thing that mattered when it came to barn-style architecture; aesthetic intrigue was also an essential component as well. People soon began to feel an emotional connection to the barn-style of architecture; rather than stainless steel, these structures were made from warm wood, which created a sense of nostalgia for simpler, analog times. This aesthetic works perfectly for restaurants, as a nostalgic atmosphere makes the dining experience feel more intimate and connected. In turn, the whole experience is less about formalities and more relaxed, allowing customers to truly feel like they’re eating food that’s fresh from the farm.

Modern Barn-Style Architecture: When Experimentation & Familiarity Collide

Fast forward several decades, and we find many intriguing designs, techniques, and aesthetic choices being incorporated into today’s barn architecture styles. This high level of experimentation allows barn restaurant interiors and exteriors to be configured in a variety of new and interesting ways, often to great success.

Full view of the steakhouse interior

As a result, many modern designers and architects will go out of their way to construct a brand new barn-style building from scratch so they can have complete creative control from the ground-up, while others strategically refurbish vacant or unused barns to bring their unique visions to life using existing structures.

Barn-Style Design Elements & Materials

We’ve found that many of today’s most memorable barn-style restaurants succeed by striking a tasteful balance between more traditional rustic elements, which serve to provide a sense of creature comfort and warmth, and more elegant contemporary touches that provide a sense of modern familiarity and convenience.

  • As far as modern barn-style touches go, think things like monochromatic palettes, sleek fixtures, and the like. However, the possibilities are truly limited only by what is dreamt up by the designers, builders, and clients!
  • Meanwhile, the more rustic barn-style elements tend to include traditional barn-style staples such as pitched ceilings, rustic beams, exposed wood, and so on. Rustic features can also include additions such as stone fireplaces, cupolas and/or clerestory windows which allow for floods of natural light, and spacious interior setups framed in ornate timber (in fact, timber is one of the most frequently used materials period when it comes to barn-style architecture).

Interior of restaurant showcasing modern barn architecture

To bring everything together, simple yet durable materials are often utilized, including oak flooring, maple plywood, and polished concrete. When built competently by a skilled team with years of design-build experience, barn-style buildings will last for a very long time, with every single post, beam, and other supportive elements designed to stand tall for generations. The fact that timber is such a resilient building material for long-term structural support is a major contributing factor here.

Have Questions Regarding a Barn Restaurant Idea of Your Own?

Barn-style architecture will always strike a sense of nostalgia in people; its undeniable rustic charm captivates visitors, and as a result, it’s sure to continue enjoying its popularity for years (if not decades) to come. As long as people need a comforting escape from the fast pace of daily life, barn restaurants and barn-style restaurants will always be in demand.

External shot of the Smythe & Dove steakhouse and bar

If you’re interested in designing and building a barn restaurant of your own, or are simply curious about some related matters and want to reach out with questions, one of our knowledgeable team members is always on staff to help. We can assist you every step of the way, from finding inspiration to jumping through regulatory hoops – and much more!

All you’ve got to do is contact us, and we’ll help bring your very own boutique commercial dream to stunning reality – just like we have for countless other clients in the hospitality industry.


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