Harmony Barn Renovation
Build it and They Will Come?
When we first came up with the idea to renovate the barn into a space that could be used for workshops and gatherings, we could picture people being together talking, sharing, creating. A simple open space with a minimal kitchen, a bathroom and that’s about it. Capitalizing on the views and nature surrounding the barn informed our conversations with our architect. As our vision became more focused, we realized we needed a full kitchen and a full bathroom. A space that someone could actually stay in, or down the road - live in. As the planning progressed, and we started talking with a bank for a construction loan, our vision for the space began to widen. We created a business plan stating that the barn space could be, in addition to workshop space, a vacation rental too. We could host weddings, and family reunions and goat yoga festivals and…You could call it Vision Creep. And now as the Harmony Barn is within a couple of months of completion, and we are starting to stare down the reality of how to book the space, we are asking ourselves, “What is it exactly and who will come?” Evolve Vacation Rentals, the company that manages the booking of the Harmony Barn Apartment, suggested we keep the spaces separate and only book the main barn for guests that are specifically looking for extra accommodations. The barn will be kept available for whatever people come to us wanting to use it for. At this point, it sounds like a good path to go down — a path that we are creating as we walk it.
Progress is humming along. Drywall is going up and up and up. There is A LOT of surface to cover. And because it is primarily a commercial space, much of the drywall is put up in two layers. This should help to insulate the interior space as well as to dampen sound. Meanwhile, kitchen cabinets are being built, as well as tables that incorporate wood planks from the old stalls. I am continuing to scour the local consignment and thrift stores for all of the furniture and appointments needed to turn the rooms into inviting and comfortable spaces.
If you have an idea for how you could use the gathering space at the Harmony Barn, drop me a line. Even goat yoga — maybe! email@example.com
Construction is in the Air!
One day this week while walking around Mancos, I couldn’t help but notice how many construction projects were going on. A crew was working on the front of the Mancos Opera House, taking down an old facade that had been built in the 1950s. The plan is to rebuild how the building looked originally, with glass-windowed store fronts. A half-a-block down Grand Avenue, another crew was working on the exterior of the Mancos Inn & Hostel. A couple of blocks to the North, the new owners of the historic Bauer House appear to be installing a new exterior staircase to the second floor. And just around the corner, the Mesa Verde Motel is undergoing a makeover, complete with newly renovated and styled rooms, and hand-painted murals designed by Arizona artist Saint No. And that was just on a short walk about town. Closer to our neck of the piñon and junipers, neighbors are picking up construction on two new homes. The only project I don’t look forward to is the annual road construction projects with their traffic detours and slow-downs. But that is a small price to pay to live in an area with great roads and beautiful scenery.
At the Harmony Barn, all the windows and doors have been delivered and most of the windows have been installed. What a difference light makes! Drywall is going up, and custom kitchen cabinets are being constructed off-site. Our contractor Patrick’s wife Danielle helped me choose paint colors. I thought it would be fairly simple. Black, white, and a blue for the kitchen cabinets. The blue was easy, but there are SO many variations of black, and so many more variations of white, all of which changed slightly in different lights. It was mind boggling. It now seems like reality that we will be open for business in July when we have a small group booked for a few days of writing time.
If you are interested in booking the barn for a gathering, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Color of Progress
Suddenly it is a riot of Spring outside. Well, maybe not a riot. But green grass is quickly growing, early flowers are making their appearance, and the leaves on shrubs and trees are just starting to unfurl. The landscape is slowly turning from brown to green, the colors made more vivid by an overnight snow and a bluebird sky. As an artist and designer I am aware of how associative color can be and how they can evoke different emotional responses. Some colors such as blue and green are calming and have an affinity with nature. The color red is thought to increase appetite (hence the many red dining rooms of the 2000s). Orange and yellow are active colors and are associated with youth and energy. The artist Kandinsky said, “Orange is like a man, convinced of his own powers.” As we get to the point of renovation where we are incorporating color into the finishes of the interior spaces, it’s important to think about how people might respond to them and how they work together. I mentioned in a previous blog that the walls will be white, the beams will be a charcoal black and the concrete will be tinted a warm terracotta color. I’m hoping to achieve a balance between the energy of high contrast black and white and the comforting colors of terracotta, accented with blues. In the apartment upstairs, the blue accents are turquoise but downstairs they will be shades of indigo which is thought to promote inner contemplation and self-reflection.
As color has visual temperature, then the color of the barn progress is definitely warming up to a nice yellow/orange. Greenish gray colored insulation foam has been blown in all the exterior walls and ceilings. Doors and windows which had been delayed until mid-June are surprisingly going to arrive soon. Drywalling will start soon and then the lovely terracotta stain on the concrete floors will be applied. I’ve been told to choose the colors for kitchen cabinets (a blue on the lowers and white on the uppers), so somewhere the cabinetry is being built. Color us excited!
Let the Shopping Begin!
Given that we are hopefully on track to open by July, and since there isn't much for me to do to help things along - I've gone shopping. We are going to need everything to furnish the barn. Style-wise the main part of the barn is going to be done in a modern farmhouse style. Did you know there are even magazines devoted to this design trend? Thank you Joanna Gaines. The walls will be white to spread the light around, and the beams and fixtures will be black. There will also be spots of colors sprinkled around because, well, I have to! When we styled the upstairs apartment, the look was also farmhouse style, but more like what your gramma's, or in my case, Auntie (pronounced anty) Ann's farmhouse looked like. At least in feeling - you don't have to cook on a fire burning stove. We wanted people to feel comfortable and cozy. Downstairs, in the main part of Harmony Barn, we are doing a more modern approach. Something with a little more energy to inspire creativity and celebration.
Taking a Pause
We live in a very action-oriented place. People run, hike, mountain bike, raft, kayak, camp, and more, on a regular basis. Many people’s weekends and off-times are planned around outdoor activities. Within an hour from here you can raft and kayak down the Animas, San Juan and Dolores rivers. There are miles of mountain biking at Phil’s World near Cortez, and the hiking is quite literally, endless. And that’s just the summer. Winter activities are just as active with downhill and nordic skiing, snowmobiling, and snowshoeing. Given all of that, I just want to say, that sometimes it is nice to just hit pause. I like to stop on the trail and just listen. Or sit on a rock and try to really see everything, both close up and at a distance. For just a moment, or ten. Sometimes when I hike with people I feel guilty doing that. I feel like I should push on and that the hike is not just a hike but a fitness goal. Gotta get my steps in. But it’s ok to pause and to stop pushing, you will still get there and enjoy yourself along the way.
This week at the Harmony Barn there was a pause. No action, no progress. It can be frustrating when you know summer and rental season is rapidly approaching. It seems easier to focus on what needs to happen than all that has been done. Kind of like paying more attention to how far you have to go, and forgetting about the trail behind you, and all the wonderful things you have seen, that brought you to this place. We know that progress will begin again we trust our contractor will make it happen. No doubt about it, it is hard. Hard to not want to push. But today I had the opportunity to look back and see how far we have come. Friends came over and we took a little tour of what has been accomplished so far and what we plan to do. They were so excited and it made me excited. It’s just a pause, and time to take in where we are.
Memories of Rain
I recently went camping with friends and had a wonderful time hiking and exploring The Needles District in Canyonlands National Park. It’s only two hours from here and this is a nice time of the year to visit the desert. The temperature was moderate and it was easy to hike for hours. It even rained one afternoon which left puddles on the slick rock and happy lizards running across the trail. One evening I decided to sleep outside under a large, dead cottonwood tree. It’s broken limbs stretched out over me and were silhouetted against the night sky. As I lay there, my head tucked under the sleeping bag, I heard it starting to rain. I reached out my hand to gauge the amount and found nothing. The sound of falling rain was coming from the tree. The sound continued all night whether there were gusts of wind or stillness. I don’t know if the sound was made from dried leaves rustling or insects eating away the inside of the tree. All I know is that it was comforting - like the old tree was telling stories about its memories of rain.
Back at the Harmony Barn, the electricians were busy. When you move into spaces that have already been built, you don’t think much about where the outlets are or where the light fixtures are placed. You hope for the best that there are outlets and light where you need them. And if you have ever lived in a home built in the century before the last one, you can appreciate modern electrical codes. It was interesting, and caused a bit of anxiety, to stop and really think about where to place light fixtures, how high they should be and where to locate switches. What if you did it wrong? Luckily, we had an experienced contractor there to help guide us. One day, while we walked around the interior spaces making these kind of decisions, it started to rain. The sound of the rain hitting the metal roof was loud but not threatening. Very different than the sound of rain on the roof of our house. I wonder if the horses who used to occupy the space found comfort in the sound like I did sleeping under the old cottonwood tree.
These days it’s hard to think of building walls without thinking about the destruction of walls. In this country, and around the world, people’s walls are coming down. From the Marshall fire, to tornado destruction in New Orleans, to the brutal attacks in Ukraine, the news is full of imagery of wreckage. People’s homes, apartments, community gathering places, hospitals, and schools, have been flattened and destroyed. Walls, which were meant to define spaces and provide protection against outside elements, have fallen leaving people misplaced, injured and most tragically, dead. And although walls can be seen as barriers or divisions, they also create private and often sacred spaces. They are important to people. And so it is with empathy for those whose walls have fallen, that we share our progress this week.
This week interior walls started to go up. We are very grateful and excited about this progress. Even though much of the barn’s main space is open, there is a bathroom, kitchen and utility/mechanical space. The new walls look well built and we are happy to watch the vision of the interior start to come to life. This is when you can start to imagine a long table set with flowers and candles surrounded with guests enjoying each other’s company.
If you have a need for an event space with just the right number of walls, drop me a line at email@example.com. Anticipated reno completion, July 2022.
Watching Ice Melt
This time of the year feels like the longest wait. Waiting for snow and ice to melt and for the meadows to come alive again. It feels like it takes FOREVER! And the MUD. Mud season is no joke. We worry we might lose a car or truck on parts of our unpaved driveway. And our dogs must bring in their weight in mud every time they go out. On our walks at this time of year, I can’t help but start looking for the first signs of spring. It is so hard to believe that last year’s grasses, that look so brown and smashed down now, will give way to new growth and within a few weeks the meadows and fields will be teeming with life. That doesn’t mean we're not hoping for a few more spring snows to help it all along.
One of the pitfalls of looking so closely for progress, whether it is waiting for Spring or renovation construction, is that it all seems to take so long, when really it just takes the time it takes. It’s called impatience. Or looking ahead and wanting what you know will happen – in its time. This week at the Harmony Barn, they have cut the openings for the large door/windows that will be going in. It makes a huge difference to be able to see outside and imagine, that at some point, we will be able to be inside and see the beautiful views!
The Difficulty of Light
"Daylight is too easy. What I want is difficult: the atmosphere of lamps or moonlight."
-Painter, Edgar Degas
The last few days have been filled with changing weather that had me pondering light. Intense snow and dark skies one moment and streaks of blue sky the next. Or a day entirely gray and snowy and the next bluebird skies with blinding sunlight. The diffused light on a gray day has its own beauty and mood. Although more somber and monochromatic, the lack of shadows can be disconcerting. Skiing when the light is flat can be difficult because you can’t see the contour of the land under your feet. On a sunny day, the directional light causes distinct shadows that make landforms and drifts in the snow easy to see. The light reflecting from the sun sparkles and it’s hard not to feel a lightening of the heart. It made me realize how much light can have an effect on mood and visual perception.
Not a lot of direct progress on the barn this week, however, Patrick and I met at the barn to discuss some design issues including lighting. And just how the light outside can have an effect on how one feels and sees, the same is true indoors, and is what makes choosing lighting for a multi-use space so challenging. In the case of the Harmony Barn, we would like to have accent lighting to directly illuminate the walls to highlight artwork. We want ambient lighting for large areas, task lighting for utilitarian areas and lights that will create drama and atmosphere for special occasions. To make it even more challenging, the monitor style of the barn creates a space that has low ceilings down the center of the barn, and high vaulted ceilings on the sides. There are also supporting beams that cross the open areas. Should track lighting be installed in those beams, or will that shine light directly into the eyes of people in the main area? I think I will need to do more research on this before the lighting plan is finalized, as it is so important to get it right. What I want is proving to be difficult.
Keepin' On Keepin’ On
In the past couple of weeks I’ve had the privilege of sharing meals with Kim Campbell, the Executive Director of the Mancos Valley Chamber of Commerce and Katie McClure the Executive Director of the Mancos Creative District. When you are new to an area (counting almost 3 years, subtracting 1 for a global pandemic) there is no better way to learn about what is going on and how to get involved than getting to know the area’s movers and shakers, both official and unofficial. Mark and I have been enjoying thinking about the different ways our business, the Tin Burro and its first project, the Harmony Barn, can become part of the fabric of the community. From hosting community meetings, to providing a place for area people and businesses to gather, we hope to become a part of the good work being done by organizations such as the Chamber of Commerce and the Creative District.
Delays are an expected part of any project, and ours is proving to be no different. If one goes into any renovation or building project and thinks otherwise, you are setting yourself up for frustration. Even in the furniture business (I work at Artesanos Design Collection in Durango) we have been experiencing lengthy backorders, slow shipping, and rapidly increasing prices. Then there is the ripple effect. A delay in another project causes a delay in ours. It's just how it goes. Luckily, we have every confidence in our contractor that progress will keep happening. So this week he was at the barn keepin' on keepin’ on!
In January 2020, my husband and I bought a barn on 10 acres adjacent to our home property near Mancos, Colorado, and asked ourselves, "What do we do with it now? Since then we have renovated the top floor into a vacation rental and are in the process of renovating the bottom/main part of the barn into a gathering space. Join us on our journey!