How a 1941 Indian Hill Barn Became a Stunning Single-Family Home

Carol Sanger bought this barn in 1997 and transformed it into an incredible showplace.
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Photograph courtesy of Karan Heuer

Carol Sanger says she was “looking for a project” when she read about a 1941 Indian Hill barn for sale in a December 7, 1997, Cincinnati Enquirer article. Sanger, who lived in an Anderson Township condo at the time, visited and purchased the 3-acre property later that month. “I had the most incredible sense of having come home,” Sanger recalls of her first visit. “I hadn’t even gone in yet. It was like I belonged here.”

Photograph courtesy of Karan Heuer

Photograph courtesy of Karan Heuer

In May 1998, Sanger tapped local architect Harry Sparks to renovate the barn, and by the following February, she and her younger brother Kenny moved in. Though the before and after photos are drastic, Sanger says Sparks stuck as close to the barn’s original footprint as possible and incorporated original materials throughout.

The first floor, which previously housed horse stalls, now features a living space, kitchen and dining area, solarium, study, full and half baths, laundry room, and master suite. Except for the flagstone and tile floors, the majority of the first floor’s architectural details are original, including the shiplap ceilings, structural beams, and stone and shiplap walls. Sanger even repurposed the stalls’ iron bars and wood doors to craft the dining and coffee tables.

Upstairs, the hayloft was converted into a second living space, with a cut out that overlooks the first floor, plus two additional bedrooms, two full baths, a loft area above the first-floor master, and a second master suite, which Kenny occupied. Our favorite part? The roof was strategically insulated from the outside, leaving the original rafters visible from both floors.

Photograph courtesy of Karan Heuer

To preserve the rustic home’s history, Sanger installed two stained glass windows above the second-floor living space that depict a horse and read Highbarn 1999. She also widened the garage and added dormers, an in-ground pool, koi pond, three-seasons room, two terraces, and an interior sprinkler system, “because we’re dealing with wood from 1941.” The 6,300-square-foot home, which is classified as a historic landmark, sold within two weeks of being put on the market in August. Sanger, who with her brother has since returned to condo living in Mariemont, says, “If I were 10 years younger, I’d be here for 10 years longer.”

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