Since the first time I helped rebuild a settlement for Preston Garvey, I’ve been infatuated with building my own Fallout-inspired building in real life. While (slightly) helping with my tribe’s camp at Wasteland Weekend helped scratch that itch, it still wasn’t enough.
So I turned my 90-year-old barn into a post-apocalyptic getaway, camping cabin, and writing nook.
We bought this property 10 years ago this year and this whole time it’s been a work-in-progress. Unfortunately, the old barn had been neglected while we did home renovations, but this year I took a good hard look at the possibility of fulfilling my strange post-apocalyptic dream.
When a tornado hit the barn last year (exactly a year ago this week, in fact), it took out two of the barn’s five rooms, leaving behind a pile of precious old barn wood and rusty metal roofing. Of course I couldn’t just throw that all away, so I decided to use it to finish off the interior of the barn’s inner storage room.
The room I transformed is 19’x9′ with original bare wood plank walls, well-worn plank floor, and 15′ ceiling. I decided to keep the rustic look as much as I could by using the rusty metal roofing as paneling and the old original barn wood as trim and shelving.
Changing the Layout
My first order of business was to switch the door from the north side of the barn (where the ground always stayed muddy) to the south side where the ground was dry and the wind blew straight in across the pasture outside. So I cut a hole in the wall and framed out a new door on the south side, then reframed the original door to hold an old window I salvaged from another building I tore down a few years back. Yes, I save everything.
For the door, I used an old solid wood door that I replaced from our house when we moved in. I covered the walls in R-13 wall insulation that my father-in-law gave me from one of his projects. It was about this time that I decided to keep this project as free as possible, only using recycled, found, and gifted materials.
I’m happy to say that I hit about 90% of that goal, only purchasing a box of sheetmetal screws, a string of solar lights from Amazon, and some pipe for the stove.
After the insulation was up on the walls, I layered the rusty metal roofing horizontally, trying my best to make things look as patched-together as possible.
For the floor, I kept all of the original planks in place, filling in the bigger gaps with expanding foam and covering with straw and dirt before it dried for a “mud chinking” effect. It kinda worked, but mostly I’m happy that no wind blows up from that floor. In fact, the whole room is pretty air tight except for the ceiling which was left open for ventilation.
One of my favorite parts of that floor is a secret trapdoor I built right in the middle. I originally cut that hole to go into the crawlspace for needed structural repairs (there’s no other crawlspace access), but I threw on some old mismatched hinges and made it a functional trapdoor. Now I store stuff under the room in weather-tight totes for emergencies.
For heat, I’ll be using an old wood-burning stove that was also given to me by my father-in-law. It doesn’t get too cold here, so it will probably not be used much, but it’s nice to have.
The walls are also covered by old cabinets that were in the barn when we moved in, and topped off with some old automobilia used as decoration.
As for power, it’s always had electric running out to it via a sketchy underground line from the house, but I tore out all of the old switches and bulb sockets and replaced it with a single plug outlet. I don’t really plan to use much power out there, as it’s also a getaway from the internet and electricity dependency, but it’s nice to have just in case.
Since I also use the room as a camping cabin for me and the kids, I made myself a bed that’s three feet high for more storage underneath. The bed also has a headboard and shelves made of the old barn wood.
I also use this cabin as a getaway for writing. It’s nice to go out there, relax in the peace and quiet, and just surround myself in a post-apocalyptic world as inspiration for my short stories and novel ideas. Hopefully this room helps me concentrate on getting one or two of these ideas down on paper.
Questions? Comments? Let me know what you think of this project, or what I should add on in the future. Thanks for reading!