Converting an Old Horse Barn in Pennsylvania

Barn converted into house PA BEFORE

I’m always kind of fascinated by barns that were converted into houses. Johanna Walters and her husband Brian Sweeney took what was a run-down show barn and boarding facility in Gwynedd Valley, Pennsylvania, and turned it into a beautiful home for both themselves and their horses.

Barn converted into house PA AFTER

It was featured on an episode of HGTV’s You Live in What? On the show Johanna says that she rode horses out of this barn as a teenager, and she always wished someone would fix it up someday. “Who knew it would be us?”

Horse Barn before makeover

Husband Brian Sweeney says, “It was in pretty bad shape when we came to it. It was pretty overwhelming at first.”

Johanna Walters outside horse barn

“Horses are a big part of our life and making sure the barn was just right was critical,” Brian says.

Horse stalls before makeover

They removed the low beams in the barn’s ceiling to reveal these beautifully vaulted ones that were underneath:

horse barn after makeover

They spent 3 years renovating it — gutting and renovating the stables, creating a kitchen, great room, and dining room on the first floor, and converting the upstairs hay loft into bedrooms.

Barn converted into house PA (1)

The first floor has 13′ ceilings, and they wanted to make the spaces look warm and comfortable despite their large size.

kitchen and great room in the barn

The great room used to be additional horse stalls:

Barn converted into house PA (2)

What was once the hay loft is now the second floor of their home with 4 bedrooms and 3 baths. They left all the original barn beams where they were and designed the rooms around them.

upstairs of barn conversion

I can’t even imagine how much work this must have been!

Barn converted into house PA (4)

These are screenshots I took while watching the episode. For the full story and house tour, watch the video at

Julia signature 2

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  1. says

    As a horsewoman this is a dream come true. I am so pleased that this couple preserved the history and beauty of this facility. How wonderful it must be to live there with their horses. Swoon!

    Big Texas Hugs,
    Susan and Bentley

  2. Beth C. says

    Wow! Stunning! Congratulations to them on a spectacular transformation. Best, Beth C.

  3. says

    I love barn conversions! What a great way to recycle space – and lots of it! They did a fabulous job – the barn looks beautiful!

  4. Joan says

    All I could think of was my mother saying to us growing up, “What do you think? You live in a barn?” If only!!

  5. Cindy_FearlessDIY says

    Oh my gracious, that is just stunning! Absolutely beautiful!

  6. Maddie May says

    This transformation is almost beyond words. A dream home come true. To have such vision is remarkable & to share this with their beloved horses is truly a gift.

  7. Alicia says

    That is just Lovely! Thanks for sharing that. One day I WILL do a full renovation of an old home…a dream of mine for a long time! Love your blog!

  8. Elvira says

    I am smitten. First of all the entire building has great charm with the inner courtyard, dormer windows and the beautiful stables. They must be happy horses – and people – who live there. Congratulations on the renovation, it’s outstanding!

  9. says

    What an amazing remodelation! It is nice to see that you can still take advantage of an old building and make it look like brand new!

  10. Jan says

    You all know that cliche, “More money than taste.” This is the opposite. Clearly someone had deep enough pockets to undertake an expensive project and a surplus of good taste to do it so well.

  11. Kim says

    What an amazing transformation! This is one my favorite converted barns. I love that they kept the rustic wood and beams throughout. It looks very beautiful.

  12. hocus pocus fan says

    Hey Julia,
    i really like your work.I especially like your posts about movie houses!
    It would mean a lot to me if you could make a post (as Halloween is near)about the Denison house on Hocus Pocus.It’s the house where Max and his little sister live.
    When i saw this film for the first time i was a kid and i fell in love with the attic in Max’s room.You can see the house and it’s address here,it's in a beautiful location near Salem’s harbor.
    I can’t find anywhere else a post about this house and i thought of you cause you make such wonderful posts.
    I’ll be glad if you answer me!thank you.

  13. Billy says

    Great job, could move in.

    Was in 4H with some kids who’s parents first built a barn with a managers studio and lived in the barn, using the studio as the main room, while they finished the ranch house.

  14. says

    Wow, it looks really good, they should be very proud of themselves after all that hard work. I bet the horses are very happy too! x

  15. Ann says

    I too grew up around show barns and they gave me a similar sense of space, texture and even smells. Barns smell good, the hay, the wood and the horses. These folks did it all the right way, with love and plenty of money. God bless them. Ann