When Lizzie Gill and her husband acquired a historic property with an 1860s main house and a barn in rural Sharon, Connecticut, they realized a dream to escape Brooklyn for a more bucolic and less hectic life. But, turning the 700-square-foot barn into an 0pen-concept ADU presented its own set of challenges. 

Lizzie Gill is a mixed media artist and has utilized her background for her latest renovation project: a 1990s-built barn that she has turned into a quaint art studio and ADU. By leaning on color, cleverly functional  storage and coordinated hardware details. she created a harmonious space with distinct zones. “I’m always looking at colors,” Gill says. “That’s one of my favorite things about working with paint and different design aesthetics.”

The Power of Paint

To transform the dated post-and-beam barn, Gill, and her husband, relied on Benjamin Moore’s Soot, a deep blue-black. The inky hue, which was a compromise as she wanted black and he wanted blue, once again shows up in the banquette dining nook and the kitchen cabinetry. “It was a way of bringing the outdoors in, and I love repeating motifs,” says Gill.

In the kitchen, they decided to keep the original footprint, but replaced the builder-grade cabinets with IKEA Sektion boxes and Semihandmade DIY Shaker fronts to complement the era of the main house. Plus, the dark drawer pulls, which are the Larkin from Rejuvenation, remind her of an old library, a fitting nod to the property’s 19th century roots. “They were a modern version of something that would align with the Shaker style,” she says. Gill carried the dark hardware theme to the kitchen faucet and throughout the loft. “Because it’s open living, I didn’t want the kitchen to stand out like a kitchen,” she says.”When you come into the kitchen, the drawers are subdued with the black on dark and it feels clean.”

Furthermore, sleek appliances also make the kitchen feel more a apart of the main living spaces. “I live for my European skinny appliances,” Gill says. “I didn’t want [them] to feel so imposing.”

Floating Shelves Will Always Be in Style

While the sloping roofline left no room for upper cabinets, Gill has maximized storage with three floating shelves. “They’re both functional and aesthetic,” she says. “We were really confined by the eaves, but we wanted a place to put water glasses, coffee mugs and … a place to display certain objects.” A Japanese lacquer tray sits on one shelf, while a small landscape by Joe Kieffer helps segue the kitchen into the living room/bedroom area. A built-in etagere, where the couple displays books and objects, including a Victorian-era terrarium, separates the dining area from the bedroom.

Storage, Storage, Storage

The other big storage challenge the loft presented was the dearth of closets. So, they made the tough decision to swap the sliding glass door and dilapidated wood deck for a row of low floating Sektion cabinets with Semihandmade DIY Shaker fronts. Now, they have a wall-to-wall bank of cabinets, while the new picture window perfectly frames the view of the tree-covered mountains in the distance.

While the renovation had its challenges, Gill loves how it turned out. The once dilapidated red barn has now become a highly functional and personalized retreat for the artist and her husband.

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