Planting Roots in a Modern Barnhouse

Updated: March 18, 2019

There’s no mistaking the past life of Jenni Radosevich’s urban barnhouse.

If the American farmer symbolizes a heritage of resourcefulness and ingenuity, then there’s probably no one who better represents the digital-era embodiment of that spirit than Jenni Radosevich, author of the I Spy DIY blog and pioneer of budget-minded design creativity. That makes her the perfect person to give an 1875 barnhouse, a crimson-red relic in the urban heart of Milwaukee, Wis., a makeover as a modern homage to our pre-industrial ancestry. Using her flair for seeing innovative potential in the most mundane materials, Radosevich gave her home a distinctly contemporary update while preserving its old-world charm and character.

Abundant natural light enriches the warm wood tones throughout the kitchen.

Surrounded by industrial factories and WWII-era colonials, bungalows and cape cods, Radosevich’s farmhouse both stands out among its surroundings and is right in tune with the area’s up-and-coming arts and entertainment scene. In the kitchen, Radosevich payed tribute to the home’s history with natural colors and eclectic ornamentation, but also incorporated modern conveniences and design elements.

A color scheme of browns, blacks and whites strikes a balance between rustic simplicity and refined luxury. Blocks of solid color are punctuated with smaller items that tie in the room’s other colors and finishes to create layered complexity and visual interest. Conveniences like a pot filler and workstation sink add modern functionality to the room’s casually sophisticated dynamic. Discover more of the home here.


The guest bathroom artfully combines traditional and modern elements.

True to her bootstrap DIY mindset, Radosevich isn’t going to let her design decisions be hemmed in by categories or boundaries. The lower level guest bathroom is a case in point. An irreverent mix of styles and elements creates a bathroom that is both visually dynamic and purposefully functional.

A kitchen sink in the bathroom? An industrial minimalist shower next to busy, old-timey wallpaper? Yes and yes. In the guest bathroom, Radosevich threw the rulebook out the window, but through a thoughtful use of color and space, it all comes together in a lighthearted and comfortable environment. Discover more of the home here.


This freestanding bath exemplifies the home’s modern take on farmhouse tradition.

Dominated by warm, neutral tones that combine traditional and modern styles, the master bath provides a focused and calming retreat. The use of houseplants, natural fibers and hand-hewn wood gives the room an airy, slightly tropical sensibility. The centerpiece of the room is the freestanding bath, perfect for Radosevich to relax and imagine her next DIY adventure.

The restrained use of color lends a necessary balance to the wide variety of materials and finishes—smooth tiles, brushed bronze metal, textured textiles, and both rough and smooth wood surfaces—creating a cohesive, refreshing environment. The green houseplants add bursts of energy and vitality. Discover more of the home here.