«  View All Posts

Posts | Building Tips | Post Frame Homes | Residential Buildings | Building Features

5 Different Ways to Design a Pole Barn with Living Quarters

January 6th, 2020 | 12 min. read

Cori Lane

Cori Lane

Cori grew up on her family's small grain and livestock operation in Northwest Indiana. In 2018, she graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor's degree in Business Administration & Marketing from Marian University Indianapolis. Having shown beef cattle for 12 years at the county, state, and national levels, Cori chose to pursue a career in agriculture. Today, she serves as the Marketing Content Creator on the FBi team. In her free time, Cori enjoys spending time with family and friends, watching sports, listening to live music, and traveling.

Print/Save as PDF

When you hear the word “pole barn,” what do you see?

Most people picture a red barn with a white roof, cupolas, and sliding doors for moving heavy machinery. It’s the epitome of a farm building in the rural Midwest.

However, the latest construction trend is a pole barn with living quarters. Yes, you read that correctly. 

You may wonder, “Why would someone want to live in a barn?” Nowadays, building usage goes beyond the realm of agriculture.

Post frame structures are constructed in a timely manner. Most importantly, they offer design flexibility and energy efficiency.

For these reasons, customers call or message us with their questions. “Can I add living space to my pole barn?” or “Do you have any residential floor plans available?” The answer is yes.

Shome. Barndominium. Post frame home. Man cave. She shed. Whatever term you use, there is a building design with your name on it.

In this article, we discuss the custom features of our favorite pole barns with living quarters. We intend to get your creative juices flowing.

If a particular project catches your eye, but you’d like to tweak it, please let us know. All of our post frame buildings are customizable. No cookie-cutter floor plans here.

5 Different Ways to Design a Pole Barn with Living Quarters Our Top Picks


1) The Great OutdoorsPole_Barn_Lodge

Do you have a taste for adventure and the great outdoors? It’s an escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Your options are endless: biking, boating, canoeing, fishing, hiking, and swimming.

If you’re looking for the perfect combination of recreation and storage, you’ll love this lodge located in White County (IN)

Arrowhead Pass is a 7,950 ft2 building with 3,760 ft2 of climate-controlled living space. It accommodates both small and large groups with the following features:

  • 2 fireplaces
  • 2 kitchens
  • 2 lofts
  • 4 bathrooms
  • 4 bedrooms
  • 4 dining areas

The shop serves as a recreation room equipped with an indoor basketball court. The interior finish is a combination of steel and plywood. Batt insulation was installed to help maintain a comfortable temperature for a quick pick-up game.

In the winter months, the entire concrete slab can be warmed up via the radiant floor heating system. You’ll never have to worry about cold feet!

When the weather is nice, you can kick back and relax underneath the inset porch. Watch the kids play beach volleyball, fish in the pond, or ride ATVs. Or, you can partake in the fun activities too!

At the end of a busy day, you and your family can relax around a blazing campfire and make s’mores.

Are you interested in seeing this post frame building for yourself? You can book the Arrowhead Pass lodge for a weekend getaway. During your stay, gather design ideas for your future pole barn. 


2)  Entertainer of the YearPole_Barn_Living_Space

If you and your significant other are entertainers, we recommend building a spacious hobby shop. Let’s take a look at this gorgeous pole barn located in Tipton County (IN)

For starters, the color combination and wainscoting are bound to grab the attention of passersby. The Matte Black and Regal White is a stylish choice.

Other attractive features include the wrap around porch and colorful landscaping.

Should you include one, your porch should be a statement piece. Nothing welcomes visitors like a well-designed entrance. Also, it’s the perfect opportunity to showcase your decor taste. 

As you can see, patio furniture and surrounding greenery draw attention to this pole barn porch.  Altogether, the building’s exterior oozes curb appeal. 

Inside, the pole barn is divided into living space (for her) and equipment storage (for him).

The living space includes a full kitchen, bathroom, and dining area for hosting impressive parties. Your guests will be in awe of the interior finish and stamped concrete. Who knew pole barns could be fancy?

Oppositely, the garage area can house vehicles and equipment (e.g., lawn mower and utility tractor). The (2) 16’ x 12’ overhead doors allow you to move your belongings with ease.

Pole Barn Gallery_Pole Barn Pictures_FBi Buildings


3) Post Frame Home GoalsPost_Frame_Home-1

Ideally, we’d love for Chip and Joanna Gaines to design our post frame building. One can dream, right? Luckily, this pole barn home in Tippecanoe County (IN) looks like it's straight out of a “Fixer Upper” episode.

Exteriorly, we’re obsessed with the exposed cedar trusses and porch columns. Again, the Matte Black and Regal White is a timeless paint selection. Not to mention, the glass-paneled cupolas topped with weathervanes are the definition of suburban elegance.

Interiorly, the owners opted for an open concept floor plan in the lower level. This layout allows for a spacious kitchen, dining area, and living room. The earthy tones, cedar beams, and shiplap walls add to the rustic theme.

Off to the side are a master bedroom and bathroom. Upstairs is a loft, which could be used as a guest bedroom or office.

A large garage is convenient for recreational activities and storage space. There’s no need to build a house and pole barn when you can have both under one roof.

The interior finish includes steel and plywood liner with batt insulation. A Big Ass Fan (yes, that really is the brand name) helps with ventilation.


4) The Ultimate Man Cave/She ShedPole_Barn_Man_Cave-1

It’s safe to say that man caves and she sheds are in style. Television networks (e.g., DIY, FYI, and HGTV) are ordering and premiering series based on this trend. 

Let’s not forget about the famous State Farm® commercial. Speaking of which, did Cheryl ever get her chichi-er she shed?

If you’re interested in building a man cave/she shed, you’ll want to replicate this post frame building located in Champaign County (IL).

Fun Fact: This hobby shop won 3rd Place in its division at the 2017 National Frame Building Association (NFBA) Building of the Year Awards.

Unique paint pairings, such as Autumn Red and Matte Black, are visually appealing. Our favorite feature is the versetta stone. Other exterior façade options include:

  • Brick
  • Stucco
  • And various siding products (e.g., aluminum, cedar, and vinyl)

Be sure to check with your professional builder to see if this is a viable option for you.

The interior space includes a kitchenette with a fully-functional island. You can prepare light meals for friends and family. The sitting area is complete with comfy furniture and a fireplace. Multiple windows draw in natural light (energy savings) and provide a view of the property.

Moreover, the decorations pull this man cave together. The repurposed barn wood, cowhide furniture, and wildlife mounts are a nice touch.

The shop area is convenient for an indoor basketball game. Installing a laminate floor will make you feel like you’re playing on a professional court. There’s still plenty of room for housing big toys (e.g., boats and four-wheelers). 


5) Cabin FeverPole_Barn_Cabin

Have you ever wanted to live in a log cabin? If so, you’ll love this pole barn home located in Tippecanoe County (IN)

While the exterior looks like a typical post frame building, the interior was transformed into a log house.

It’s equipped with a full kitchen, bathroom, and office. A spiral staircase leads to an open area.

You can pull vehicles and equipment into the large garage. On a beautiful evening, you can sit on the back porch and watch the deer roam.

Pole Barn Quote_FBi Buildings

Warning: Extra Work is Involved.

The last thing we want is to burst anyone’s bubble. However, it’s important to note that most post frame builders specialize in the building shell only.

The building envelope (or shell) consists of materials that separate the inside from the outside. These components include the roof, attic, walls, foundation, doors, and windows.

It’s a fraction of your overall project. Other design aspects can be handled by a general contractor (GC). 

Some customers prefer to handle this process on their own. Those with knowledge find this to be an enjoyable and rewarding experience. Meanwhile, those without the background are surprised by how time-consuming it is to manage a building project.

For instance, you’ll have to coordinate and pay extra for the following work:

  • Site preparation and excavation
  • Run plumbing pipes and electrical wires
  • Install a driveway, culvert, and septic tank

You may pursue competitive bids from different vendors. Remember, you’ll be responsible for managing the people, prices, and workload.

General contracting your post frame structure is a major commitment. It requires expertise, resources, and time. Plus, there’s always the assumption of risk. 

Is DIY the best option for you? If not, we recommend asking your professional builder for a list of reliable general contractors in the area.


How Will You Design Your Pole Barn With Living Quarters?

Ultimately, how you design your residential pole barn is up to you. Our goal as one of the top post frame builders in the Midwest is to provide tips that’ll help you design the perfect structure.

Are you interested in seeing plans? You can download our FREE Rural Lifestyle Plan Book. This guide features 16 detailed drawings, including a variety of storage, utility, and hobby buildings made for the way you live (or want to live). 

Also, you can design your building with our online 3D design tool. Save, print, or email the final plan to family and friends.

Are you ready for a quote? Submit your building design, and a member of our sales team will give you a call to begin the estimating process.

If you're ready to move forward with your post frame project, we also recommend you check out The Ultimate Guide to Building a Pole Barn. This guide will help you navigate the steps that you need to take to insure your project gets done on time and under budget. 

Design Your Pole Barn_FBi Buildings

Do you have more questions about residential pole barns that are not covered in this article? If you need help designing and planning, please contact FBi Buildings at 800.552.2981 or click here to email us. If you’re ready to get a price, click here to request a quote and a member of our Customer Engagement Team will help you determine the next steps of your project.