Creating a homelike silo


June 09, 1991|By Rose Bennett Gilbert | Rose Bennett Gilbert,Copley News Service

Q: You may laugh, but we've bought a farm with an old barn BTC and silo. The barn will be our family-party-great room, with exposed beams and a huge stone fireplace, but we're not sure what to do with the silo. It's stone on the outside, but the walls will need fixing inside. There are no windows and the "ceiling" is about 40 feet high! Since we've never seen a room in a silo before, maybe you can suggest something.

A: Yours is not a problem (or challenge) that comes along every day, of course, but I have seen several silos that have been turned into charm in the round.

Musician Skitch Henderson and his wife made a great bath out of the silo attached to the barn on their farm in suburban New York. The stone walls and cement floor were the perfect background for a wood-framed hot tub and other amenities.

When the New Jersey Chapter of the American Society of Interior Designers made over a mid-18th century fieldstone barn into a show house last year, designer Barbara Noud chose the silo and turned it into a library. Instead of ignoring the unique shape and height, she has emphasized it on the one hand with

high paneling and a spiraling stairway.

On the other hand, she brought things down to human scale with a shaped-to-fit desk, low-hung pictures and "ceiling-high" bookcases.

Q: My somewhat snobbish brother-in-law keeps referring to a desk he inherited from his father as an "antique," when I know it was made in 1910 on his grandfather's farm -- the date is even carved under a drawer. What's the proper definition of antique? Didn't I read somewhere that it meant 100 years old, or more? Please answer. I want to set this one straight.

A: You're right: According to the U.S. Customs Service, a piece must be at least 100 years old to qualify as antique. At that point, they allow it to enter this country duty-free. Therefore, your brother-in-law's desk is 19 years shy of "antique-dom," officially speaking.

However, a lot of collectors -- including some top auction houses -- base their definition of "antique" on more stringent criteria.

Are you still sure you want to bring the whole thing up? Let your brother-in-law enjoy his nice old desk, whatever it is.

Rose Bennett Gilbert is the author of five books on interior design, associate editor of Country Decorating and a contributing writer to other publications in the field. Send questions to Inside Advice, Maryland Living, The Sun, Baltimore, Md. 21278.

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