From the outside, it looks like any old calving barn: a bit beat up, its siding turned grey from being at the mercy of the elements in Alberta’s Rocky Mountain foothills. Slide open the barn doors, however, and it seems strange to imagine four-legged animals taking shelter here.
Rather than stalls, pitchforks and hay, it’s filled with antiques, hand-crafted harvest tables (12 of them), some taxidermy, a bar, an industrial kitchen, several cozy seating areas, a small stage and a pair of Rococo iron and crystal chandeliers that owner Deb Kaumeyer put together herself.
“It’s was incredibly expensive to have the chandeliers delivered – especially already assembled – so I put on some music, made a strong pot of coffee and got to work,” says Kaumeyer, who renovated the barn as an entertaining space six years ago with her husband, Mike. “It took about eight hours, and it was painstaking at times, but it was my way of putting a little bit of love and elegance into our barn.”
Located near the town of Okotoks, about a 40-minute drive south of Calgary, the calving barn is one of several buildings on 7K Ranch, a homestead named by Mike’s dad to represent his family (the senior Kaumeyer and his wife had five kids). “Our barn is a place to gather with family and friends. It’s got a great energy and I love to cook in this kitchen,” says Kaumeyer, who installed a picture window near the sink for a bird’s eye view of the Rockies to the west. “It was our way of honouring the rich ranching tradition and hospitality of this area, and also reinforcing a deep connection to the land, which is such an integral thing to southern Albertans.” (Their bungalow-style house is a stone’s throw from the barn).
Kaumeyer describes the decor as “laid-back rustic.” It’s an aesthetic she pulled together by filling the cavernous room with antiques, such as the tractor-chair bar stools; the barrels and chairs made from old beverage crates; paintings of horses and cows; the pine harvest tables and benches made by a local craftsman; and tables set with china and cutlery passed down in the family.
“This place is so dear to our family because Mike grew up here, and so did his sons,” says Kaumeyer, who is originally from Ontario but has lived in the West for 26 years. “We wanted to fill it with things that have meaning and permanence. The only thing I had to hold back on was the taxidermy. The men in the family wanted to keep giving me more. I had to cap it off.”
It took the Kaumeyers 18 months to renovate. They left the original rough spruce walls and ceiling, and covered the dirt floor with wide recycled planks to match. When the industrial kitchen, bar and stage were complete, they threw a branding party, and burned the letter “7K” into every beam, bench, barrel and fence post they could find. “It might have been a bit of overkill, but we had so much fun,” she says.
At Christmas, the Kaumeyers are expecting to host about 25 in the barn. The decor will be themed, with red runners and place mats on the table, pine wreaths on the walls, and a tree cut from the farm.
“The barn is perfect for special occasions,” Kaumeyer says. “We turn on the heat, rig up the Sonos, take out the china, and away we go. Sometimes I have to pause, step back, and just take it all in.”