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You always hear about old houses having “good bones,” but one homeowner decided to prove it by leaving them all out in the open. After he told his interior designer, Judy King, of his vision to put the exposed beams of his 1840s barn at center stage, it was clear she’d have to get creative. The building, now situated in New Hope, Pennsylvania, on the Delaware River, was first built in Henryville, New York, in the ’70s. It took two years for the homeowner to restore its original post-and-beam structure—an achievement, to be sure, but one that left the primary bathroom lacking in natural light.

Photography by Tom Grimes

To let in the rays, King had to do the unthinkable: install a window directly behind the room’s horizontal structural beam, lining it up to the kitchen exterior window, one floor below. To make the most of the light now pouring in, she ditched the idea of a traditional mirror above the sink. Anyone washing up can instead enjoy the view overlooking the rushing water. Adding a few Shaker pegs to the post ensures the design decision feels intentional, plus there’s space to hang a towel or loofah, and any small toiletries can be kept on the ledge, freeing the custom concrete countertop of clutter. To preserve its original state, the wood was left unvarnished. The only treatment it received was a thorough wire brushing to get rid of any debris.

Photography by Tom Grimes

“We didn’t play by the rules on this project,” says King, and the benefits are in plain view.