Horse Barn of a Different Color

Fabral horse barn

Builder – Doug Beilfuss – Beilfuss Timber Frames (
Distributor – Timberwolf Log Homes – Rex Hill owner.
Roof Manufacturer – Fabral, Inc.

Everyone probably has heard the expression “a horse of a different color.” Well how about a horse barn of a different color? Tucked into the countryside of central Wisconsin is a barn that fits that bill. This barn has space dedicated to horses, with two stalls; areas for sports, with a basketball/volleyball court, weight room and ultimate fighting cage; and family recreation and entertaining sections, with a full commercial kitchen and patios with seating areas.

The Plan
Tom and Michelle Nielsen, the building owners, are passionate people. They are passionate about their family, careers, hobbies and living life. The unique barn they built is a reflection of their passions and compliments their lifestyle.

“We always wanted to do a hobby farm,” Michelle explained. “We home school, so we wanted a place for animals, PE and gourmet cooking. We also entertain a lot, so we look forward to sharing our barn with friends and family, with hopes of having an apple orchard, small organic garden and fine meats to use in future catering endeavors.”

In addition to meeting the home schooling needs, the barn also reflects the Nielsens’ love of taekwondo and mixed martial arts. They were looking for a space to practice this art as a family, which is why an ultimate fighting cage was installed. Another hobby of the Nielsens is barbecuing. The couple has trained with some of the best in BBQ through OnCue Hospitality Consulting (Amy Mills and Paul Mackay) in Cape Girardeau, Mo., and 17th Street Bar & Grill in Murphysboro, Ill., with “The Legend” Mike Mills. They came back inspired and ready to test their barbecuing skills on their friends and family. The kitchen in the barn – which includes a stainless-steel commercial stove with range, two refrigerators and matching freezer – and their outdoor Ole Hickory Pit help them meet this goal.

“I think my favorite interior design aspect is the kitchen,” noted Doug Beilfuss, owner of Medford, Wis.-based Beilfuss Timber Frames, which served as the builder and general contractor. “The nice stainless appliances really compliment the barn.”

Fabral horse barn gymnasium

Fabral horse barn weight lifting area

The end creation is a 4,800-square-foot barn that includes a 600-square-foot area for horses. There are two custom stalls, and custom doors were added for the horses that lead to a covered patio. Michelle noted they will get horses after the boys complete their research.

“As part of schooling, I really want my boys to understand research,” she said. “So after they do all the research and understand how to be animal owners, then we will get the horses.”

Fabral horse barn stall area

Fabral horse barn stall area

The rest of the first floor contains the kitchen, large bathroom, exercise area and basketball/volleyball court. The first floor also has large covered porches and a patio off the kitchen. The second-floor loft space has a weight room and an eight-sided, extreme fighting cage. And after all the exercise, play and cooking, the Nielsens undoubtedly need a place to unwind. So they can do that in their steam bath, which is part of the large bathroom on the first floor.

The Structure
The content of the barn certainly isn’t traditional for a typical barn. But they did use traditional materials for the construction, including timber frames and large beams. Michelle believes the decorating and layout only highlight the superior craftsmanship of Beilfuss and his team. When it came to the roof, they again strayed from the norm by requesting an add-on from the construction team. The Nielsens wanted a metal roof system.

“Dr. Tom had seen a restaurant with a metal roof, and he really liked the design,” remembered Rex Hill, owner of Medford-based Timberwolf Log Homes, which installed the metal roof and assisted in the carpentry and building of the barn. “I work with Fabral products a lot, so I showed him a concealed fastener standing-seam profile, and he really wanted to go with that. He was really excited about the finish and pattern of the panel. He thought the Fabral [panel] was a lot sharper than the corrugated panels on [the restaurant].”

What they selected was 26-gauge Climaguard from Fabral, Lancaster, Pa. The unpainted Galvalume panels have an acrylic coating and are 16 inches wide. Climaguard is a snap-together system with prepunched fastener slots to make installation more efficient. Climaguard often can be installed over an existing roof, saving time and money.

“In many cases, you can actually install the metal roof faster than a shingle roof,” Hill noted. He added that he has seen metal roofing gain attention in central Wisconsin. He believes homeowners are paying attention to the aesthetics, long lifespan and green aspects of metal roofing.

“There has been an increase in the use of metal roofing for residential projects as homeowners become more educated about the many benefits of metal versus other traditional roofing products,” said Scott Bacon, director of sales and marketing for Fabral. “A metal roof system offers strength, protection against the elements, beauty and sustainability.  With the variety of high-performance systems and finishes available, an investment in metal roofing should be the last investment owners make on their roofs.”

Beilfuss said sustainability played a role in the Nielsens’ decision to pick metal, particularly its durability. He also believes the galvanized look fits the architecture of the barn perfectly. Michelle couldn’t agree more, saying: “The roof really looks cool and makes it feel more like an old school barn.”

Fabral horse barn exterior

horse barn back door

Wisconsin Way
Construction of the barn began this past winter, and the extreme cold – record-setting cold for the normally chilly Wisconsin – was a great challenge for the construction workers. The project took about six months to complete, and by the summer the Nielsens were decorating and adding finishing touches.

To celebrate and thank those who helped raise the barn, the Nielsens recently held a thank-you, barbecue shindig. “I thought it was pretty cool to have a contractor appreciation party for us,” Hill said. “It was fun to see everything decorated and with furniture. Dr. Tom and Michelle have created a dream space, right down to the 6-foot man’s dream toolbox with a built-in stereo, the steam bath and the ultimate fighting cage.

It is by far the most unique barn I have ever worked on.”

This hobby, home schooling, entertaining barn – with its traditional timbers and standout metal roof – certainly is a barn of a different color.

Daisy Lilley is marketing manager for Fabral, Lancaster, Pa. More information can be found at


You may also be interested in these articles on horse barns and arenas:

2012 Guide to Horse Barn Products
Problem-solving horse barn accessories
A riding arena for champions in Sandusky, Ohio
A builder’s challenges in creating an equine paradise on Mackinac Island
Appeasing horses – and their owners
A barn for the equine athlete


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