Real Estate News

Antique wood, new ideas transform a Deerfield home into an eco-friendly stunner

Making a historic property eco-friendly is challenging because older homes have thin walls and single-pane windows. See inside at

Dating to 1680, the historic home had undergone several renovations over the centuries. Nat Rea

It was supposed to be a pretty simple renovation, but the transformation of a Deerfield farmhouse and barn into a peaceful “net-zero” home proved to be much more.

Dating to 1680, the historic home had undergone several renovations over the centuries. Initially, the latest project was meant to be an energy-efficient renovation of a secondary residence, but as time went on, the ambitious project evolved into creating a net-zero property.

“Its input into the grid equals its output taken away from the grid,” explained Catherine Truman of Catherine Truman Architects, who completed the project. “It’s not like it’s self-sufficient; it’s not off the grid, but it feeds stuff into the grid and takes it back.”


Related Green living … Eco-friendly building terms explained

The main idea was to take a dark and dated farmhouse and barn and create a home that was conducive to the needs of a family with four teenagers and several large dogs. One of the biggest undertakings was the transformation of the barn attached to the western end of the house, which the owners wanted to renovate as part of the living space. A structural engineer told Truman that while it wasn’t going to fall down, the building would not meet code.

“We tried to be really creative in how we dealt with this challenge,” said Truman, “and of course, make it look like it had always been there.”

Truman’s team also designed the interiors of the home using vendors based in the USA. It was an undertaking that was tough, particularly because cost was a factor. “You can totally source everything in the USA and spend an absolute fortune, but trying to find reasonably priced things made in the USA was a real challenge,” said Truman.

Using a minimal approach to furniture and carpets to highlight the beautiful flooring, Truman created a bright, welcoming space over the year-and-a-half renovation, which was completed in 2017. It proved to be so successful that it was the 2020 Recipient of a Residential Design Award Citation from the Boston Society of Architects.


Ultimately, the home’s aesthetic bridges traditional and contemporary. The renovation of the exterior required careful attention to detail to preserve the historic integrity of the home, while also creating an energy-efficient space.

The barn

BEFORE: A historic barn on the property was dilapidated but had a semi-finished pool room, office, and garage. – Courtesy of Catherine Truman Architects
It was disassembled, the salvageable pieces of wood were saved, and a replacement antique barn was found and re-erected on the site. – Courtesy of Catherine Truman Architects
Creating a net-zero energy building from a historic property is particularly challenging due to the fact that older homes have thin walls and single-pane windows. Contributing to the home’s newfound eco-friendliness: rooftop solar panels, super-insulated panels, and triple-pane windows. – Nat Rea
The new barn has a sleeping loft with a bathroom over the TV area. It also overlooks a large pool table and bar, seating, and the dining area. The space gets natural light via expansive windows and a 10-foot tall double exterior door. Concrete floors provide a textural contrast to the rustic barn boards. – Jane Messenger

The connector

The barn was initially connected to the house through a series of long, rambling additions that Truman said were “a complete mess.” But when it was discovered that the barn structure would need to be redone, it created an opportunity for a new connector that could move the barn closer to the house. The initial connector pieces were demolished, and much of the timber that’s in the new one is salvaged from the barn. – Nat Rea

The main house

. – Courtesy of Catherine Truman Architects
The original kitchen was quite small. All of the floorboards were pulled up, numbered, and then reinstalled, patched in with salvaged antique wood flooring where needed.  The kitchen, which had previously been the dining room, was completely gutted. Seamlessly detailed kitchen cabinets complement V-groove paneling throughout the service areas.  – Nat Rea
The living room (above) was originally big on square footage, but it wasn’t conducive to a large family being able to sit together and watch TV. The redesign (below) vaulted the ceiling, removing a section of the second floor. – Courtesy of Catherine Truman Architects
. – Nat Rea
The dining area was combined with the kitchen to create a more casual living setup. – Nat Rea
The rear staircase was relocated to combine the upper library and the lower living space into a light-filled central living area that overlooks the kitchen and dining area. A double-height stair to the second floor was installed, and exposed beams from the salvaged barn were placed overhead.   – Nat Rea

Subscribe to the Globe’s free real estate newsletter — our weekly digest on buying, selling, and design — at Follow us on FacebookLinkedInInstagram, and Twitter @globehomes.


This discussion has ended. Please join elsewhere on