A peek inside an award-winning barn in Shrewsbury
By Joyce DeWallace, Contributing Writer
Shrewsbury – When Gail and Joe Aslanian tackled the award-winning restoration of their 1776 barn in the late 1990s, they were determined to reinvent the space to suit their needs. They had no plans to milk cows or store hay for barnyard animals. Instead, this space has become a second home for hobbies, gatherings, and their guests.
Step through the front door and you are surrounded by a high open area with a staircase leading to several lofts overlooking the main floor. On the left is a cozy living room with antiques hung on the walls, featured on shelves, and home to an eclectic collection of furniture.
As part of the barn’s restoration, Joe created his own poker room, complete with a framed deck of cards spread out in neat rows and a handmade hexagonal felt covered table. The back wall is filled with custom made cabinets and shelves. Part of his large collection of old tools covers the walls and lines the high shelves.
The main hall leads past a small organ to the back half of the barn, which houses Joe’s immaculate woodworking workshop. This was one of the first areas completed. After he sold his cabinet making business in Michigan, Joe transferred his skills to Shrewsbury. He has made most of the cabinets, shelves and some of the furniture that have transformed the barn. His current passion is creating custom wooden boxes with different woods and inlays.
A multi-purpose seating area serves as a place for a cup of coffee or a cold drink. His friends often gather here for his less formal pitch games.
“Our home is like a community center; people feel at home here,” said Gail.
On the right side of the main barn entrance is an inviting dining room filled with colorful roosters. Behind that nestles a small kitchen. Just down the hall is a full bathroom that also houses a washer and dryer. The walls are hung with old washboards, and the high shelf holds a collection of old irons. Gail explained that one of her main goals for the barn was to create enough space to artistically display the many unusual objects she and Joe have amassed.
Climb the stairs and you enter a small sitting room, the perfect nook to snuggle with a good book. Across the way, a second loft area was designed as a guest bedroom. The back half of the top floor serves as Gail’s workspace for all her crafts and hobbies. She has plenty of room for the prize-winning baskets she creates. A sewing area is surrounded by custom cabinets to hold fabrics, notions and threads. The studio allows her to paint, make collages, and follow the creative urges that led her to be an art teacher before she retired. There is much space and light and most importantly, she noted, storage for everything.
Throughout the spacious interior are the Aslanians’ collections, presented with style and an artist’s flair. The walls are covered with old tools, wooden signs, and antiques of every description. Pottery, stoneware, tinware, roosters, and bottles vie for attention.
In May of 2010, the couple received the Shrewsbury Historical Society Preservation and Restoration Award for their restoration work on the barn.
Their vintage barn has become a home for their treasures, as well as a preservation project that has saved a piece of Shrewsbury’s history.
For more on the Aslanians’ efforts to renovate the barn visit http://www.communityadvocate.com/2013/02/26/149.
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