Tour a Century-Old Pennsylvania Barn House That Was Reassembled in the Dominican Republic


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After building imposing stone-wall stables for his Peruvian Paso horses, the owner of this finca in the mountainous Cordillera Central of the Dominican Republic spent five years living in an Airstream. Impractical as that was, he was waiting to find the right inspiration, the right architect, and the right interior designer for his countryside residence. “I feared that nobody would interpret what I truly wanted to achieve,” says the commercial real estate developer, “a wabi-sabi sort of space where nature played the starring role.”

Inspiration finally struck when he visited the restaurant at Blackberry Farm in Tennessee, housed in a turn-of-the-century barn that’s as grand as it is weathered. The owner then set out to find a barn much like that one, with the intent of disassembling it and putting it back together in his Caribbean estate. He knew just the man for the job: Jeffrey Dungan—the architect who had built his stables and whose portfolio includes a series of luxurious yet rustic residences. Dungan was able to locate a century-old, English-style barn for sale in Pennsylvania; about 60 feet long by 40 feet wide, it was big enough for the main living areas of his client’s future home.

To complement and enhance the wooden structure, which would be situated on a hill and have a second level built underneath it, the architect drew covered porches all around the perimeter and extended one end of the barn with voluminous bay windows. He also chose locally sourced tawny stones to build decorative elements, such as outdoor fireplaces and loggias. Construction was underway when the pandemic arrived, forcing everyone to take a long pause.

It was during this time that the homeowner began to think in earnest about the interiors of his passion project. He set his sights on Isabel López-Quesada, a designer known for creating effortlessly elegant spaces that hew closely to the tenets of wabi-sabi, albeit with a touch of glamour. “I had seen her work and knew she could create an environment where you breathe in peace and serenity, with nature as the focus,” he says. López-Quesada was immediately interested, calling the idea of working with an old American barn “a dream.”

After visiting the site, she brought in two longtime collaborators—architect Marta Marín and landscape designer Fernando Martos—who helped create the sensory and visual experience that her client was after. Their collaboration included resizing some windows to keep the harsh tropical sun away from certain corners, sourcing vintage wood planks to cover nearly every interior wall, and planting hundreds of blooming trees—including mountain immortelles and scarlet bushes. To furnish the space, López-Quesada headed to flea markets and antique stores across Europe, seeking unique rustic pieces from a range of eras. Some standout finds include a tall Louis XIII French cabinet from the 17th century and an ample walnut desk from 18th-century Belgium. Both were placed in the nave of the barn—an open, loft-like space that functions as a living room, home office, and lounge area, with custom-made sofas in neutral hues and a wrought-iron daybed with striped cushions. “I did something sober and simple, without loud prints or colors,” says López-Quesada. “The barn itself has a lot of strength and speaks volumes.”

Along the way, there was a plot twist: The plan was always for the primary suite to be set within a standalone structure, but the homeowner was so taken with the barn that he decided to find a second, smaller barn to serve this purpose. In this case, it was a New England Dutch barn from the 1800s, which now houses a spacious bedroom with a seating area and a bathroom with a deep soaking tub. Like she did in the main barn, the designer kept the color and material palette very narrow, using linen fabrics in soft earthy colors: jute, wood, and wicker.

Although nearly everything in this residence came from somewhere else—be it Europe, South America, or the East Coast—it looks like it has always been there. “The combination of Jeff, Isabel, and Fernando was fantastic,” says the homeowner of the team that helped him bring his ideas to life.” I had great expectations and this is beyond what I had imagined.”

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Alexandra Williams
Alexandra Williams
Alexandra Williams is a writer and editor. Angeles. She writes about politics, art, and culture for LinkDaddy News.

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