Caroline Beebe transformed her husband’s carpentry shop into a home for herself and her poodle mix, Kitty (right), whom she rescued while in Mexico. Lola, a Pekingese, is visiting. Beebe’s home is filled with artwork and antiques. The century-old high chair provided years of service when her daughters were little; today it holds an antique painting. Photo by Shannon Zahnle


Many of us would give our eyeteeth for the chance to make our home in a converted building. We swoon at the spare lines of a loft carved out of a former factory or the fusion of openness and solidity in a timber-frame barn-turned-home. The architecture of buildings designed for work enriches our experience of space and time with shades of a different, though palpable, past: Living in such spaces has the sense of a playful adventure.

Of course, echoes of the past are often discernible in environments that have been homesteads from the start — never more so than when a place has been in one’s own family, or when a home bears the unmistakable impress of some previous occupant’s forceful beliefs with which one concurs.

In each of the following homes — a converted carpenter’s workshop, a family farm, and a gritty urban compound — new occupants have embraced the original owner’s vision and are giving those dreams new life.

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