It was a wrong turn that initially led Cooper Boone to the right spot. "When I happened upon this place, I thought, 'I have been dreaming about this property since I was a child!' " says Cooper. While he loved the picturesque white farmhouse, it was the Pennsylvania Dutch bank barn out back that got his attention. There was only one problem: It wasn't on the market. But after years of drive-bys, he got a (literal) sign, and it said "For Sale." He snapped up the place and immediately went to work on the barn, which needed more than a little TLC. "She was a hot mess," Cooper laughs. "There was a hole in the roof, the floor was all rotted, and it had faded to a dingy brown." After 17 years, endless coats of red paint, new electrical and plumbing, and load after load of reclaimed materials, the structure went from a disaster to the perfect party place, bar(n) none.
Cooper divided the wide-open, 1,100-square-foot barn into "rooms" for functions like cooking, dining, and gathering. The goal: to create a comfortable, inviting party setting layered with vintage charm. "I'm a big believer that a space should allow people to let their hair down and be themselves," says Cooper. "I like to have areas for people to gather as a group but also to sneak away for quieter conversation."
Overhead, in the hay loft, an intimate seating arrangement provides a cozy spot for conversation. The vintage rattan settee boasts old military blankets-turned-cushions, while a "wall" of vintage factory racks provides a lot of display space for an ever-evolving mix of Craigslist and cleaned-up junking finds.
The "more-the-merrier" philosophy of the barn is reinforced by built-in benches designed to seat a crowd. As a rule, Cooper is drawn to things that are both beautiful and functional, like the blue pie safe he found dumped at the curb. "I literally draped my body over it while Mark got the truck!" he says.
Cooper found an old factor gear at , turned it on its side, and topped it with sheep fencing for a cool cocktail table. Corrugated metal gets an artistic upgrade with a giant hand-painted butcher chart. The wall retracts and provides access to the back patio.
Along the barn's kitchen wall, Cooper repurposed 1-foot-wide boards looped with jute rope into a rustic shelving unit. His collection of yellowware bowls, interspersed with quirky "bits and bobs" (including a sign that gives a nod to his latest album), adds a pop of color. "A grouping offers much more visual impact," advises Cooper.
Pre-party, Cooper leaves very little to chance. "I assign specific food dishes to people and will even give out recipe ideas. I also ask everyone to bring their dish in something white to keep it cohesive," he says. He sets up a serve-yourself bar, mood lighting, and crowd-pleasing tunes, so that when guests arrive, he can devote the rest of the night to having fun. Located in Shohola, Pennsylvania, Cooper made this festive space available to rent for weddings and special events, before recently deciding to put it on the market. Guests could even rent the adjacent farmhouse and make a weekend of it.
Nothing says "Welcome to the Party" better than a drink at the ready. A rustic galvanized table-turned-bar (found on the curb in New York City!) provides space for an easy-to-assemble signature cocktail and a bottomless supply of rosé and seltzer. The ice-filled wine trough, mix of mismatched glass beakers, and barware add pretty sparkle and shine to the table. Handy throw pillows in a galvanized tub mean folks can have a seat anywhere.
"The barn is all about friends gathering and enjoying delicious food together, and the table is the center of it all," says Cooper. In order to accommodate a large dinner party, he pushes two 10-foot tables together. There's room for plenty of guests, but the narrow width keeps the conversation flowing.
Burlap cloth tied with rope (and adorned with vintage kitchen utensils) keeps hay bales comfy for guests. "It's the little extras that make people smile," Cooper says.
The industrial light fixture was a baby crib in a former life. Cooper flipped it and had it reconfigured and strung with individual bulbs to create his own personal twist on barn lighting. Cooper also advises having all the lights on dimmers so they can be easily adjusted as the night progresses.
The kitchen island doubles as an ideal food station and gathering place for a guest list that includes friends both old and new. "I'll even ask people to bring along a friend I've never met before," he says.
Good tunes make a party great, so what could be finer than having a host who moonlights as a country artist? After dessert, the back galvanized wall slides open and Cooper and bandmates Kevin McComb and Kristin Hackett take to the patio-turned-stage and get guests on their feet with a few songs from their latest album, Sideshow. Hear it at .
Have you fallen in love with this barn? Cooper (right) and his partner Mark Veeder recently decided to put it on the market, fully furnished. To find out more, visit .