written by Melissa Dalton
Jessa and Ben Greenfield’s house in Spokane bears hallmarks of country life, from the chickens muttering in a nearby coop to the structure itself, which is shaped like two intersecting gambrel-roofed barns. But upon closer inspection, it’s clear how the couple has put their own spin on things.
Take the obstacle course that pops up across the 9-acre property. It’s an homage to the family’s love of Spartan racing, a sport that mixes trail running with military-style training. “The land just lent itself to it perfectly,” Jessa Greenfield said. Ben races on a pro team and produces podcasts about the sport, all under the umbrella of Ben Greenfield Fitness, the health-and-wellness business where both work. Last summer, they hosted how-to camps on the sport, at which their 9-year-old twin boys could have been instructors. “They love it when people come out here and they can show them all the tricks,” Greenfield said.
This is a lifestyle that was a long time in the making for the couple. They started saving money to buy land and build their dream home as soon as they married. Both grew up on acreage in Idaho—she on a farm in Moscow and he in Lewiston—and wanted to recreate that experience for their own family. In 2011, a property search led them to this plot near town, complete with a view of the prairie and easy access to the outdoor sports they love.
When it came time to design their house, they had a clear vision. “We wanted to tear down a barn and rebuild it on our property,” Greenfield said. “I grew up playing in old barns and have a lot of fond memories.” In their search for an architect to undertake the task, they clicked with Jeff Fountain of Copeland Architecture. “He was open to the idea and willing to take on this unchartered challenge,” Greenfield said. Unfortunately, the group soon discovered that local pole barns were not structurally sound enough to withstand a retrofit, so Fountain conceived alternatives.
The resulting home artfully evokes classic barn details while accommodating a functional floorplan, which includes a double-height dining space on the main level, four bedrooms, and a gym, rec room and home office in the basement. Fountain sourced snow fencing from Wyoming for the exterior siding in a rain screen application. Then he had the same fencing skip-planed to clad the ceiling, and used lumber recovered from an old Palouse barn to fashion decorative trusses. “We wanted to have that sensation of looking up at the inside of a ceiling of a barn,” Fountain said.
Greenfield then blended textures and materials that could hold up to the active family. “We picked certain products purposefully, so we wouldn’t have to live gently,” she said. Her palette includes oak flooring, soapstone kitchen counters and a custom cedar dining table that will look better with knicks and dents. She doesn’t mind the patina. “There’s life in this house, and you can see it and feel it,” she said. “It really fits our family.”