The owner built her dream barn and used her favourite colour to create an elegant home inside and out
‘My dream was to live in a barn conversion. I kept a photo of one I’d found in a magazine and fallen in love with.’ The owner and her family were living in an Edwardian house outside Reading when they decided to move to a barn. ‘We looked but there was nothing in the area.’ Then she and her husband came across a Colt timber-framed bungalow in a rural location not far away. ‘We fell in love with the setting – pretty countryside, but within easy reach of both Henley and London by train. As we came down the track to view the property, it felt secluded, as if it were a million miles from anywhere. We loved it! It was charming and almost felt like a ski lodge.’
The couple bought the bungalow. ‘Initially we’d hoped to renovate and make it more ‘barn style’, but when we looked at that with the architect we realised it would cost more to renovate than rebuild.’ So they decided to knock it down and rebuild to their own design with the architect. ‘Because we were living here, we knew where the light came in and where we wanted to live and work. For instance, the kitchen was where the family room is now, but there was so much more light in the middle of the house that we swapped them round because we wanted a light-filled kitchen.’
This house tour originally appeared in Country Homes & Interiors, February 2017
The owner was keen to create an authentic-looking barn. ‘I didn’t want a new-build feel, so all the materials used were carefully considered and I sourced everything to try and get things that look old.’ The architect came up with a design for the barn and planning permission went through smoothly. ‘We built on the footprint of what was here. We were very considerate of our neighbours and built a one-and-a-half storey property rather than a two-storey one. I knew what I wanted – the architect designed the shell and I did the rest. I’d had a picture in my head for a long time!’ Smart red roof tiles and dark grey shiplap cladding ensure a modern rustic look.
The house is eco efficient with solar panels and thick insulation. ‘Although it’s mostly open plan, the heating costs are low. We have lots of woodburners and we love them.’ The cylindrical shape and large curved glass windows of a contemporary woodburning stove provide a wide-angle view of the flames when the stove is positioned prominently. A glass panel hearth is a modern alternative to traditional slate or brick. The flue pipe can exit through an adjacent outside wall, or via the ceiling to the roof, adding another dimension to the design, especially if in shiny steel. Purple sofas up the cosy feel in this inviting space.
For the 20 months it took to build the barn, the family lived in the annexe, which was built first. ‘We pared everything down and lived simply. It was great for bonding, given that it was such a small space, but we had to be very organised.’ She employed a project manager and used subcontractors when needed. ‘The project manager was amazing. I sourced things, but he sorted out the technical details. I planned the look at the start of the build so it was cohesive. Everything was decided as soon as we were digging the foundations – even down to the colours of the doors. We had to make a decision about the flooring early on, so that gave me the impetus to plan everything.’
Dark grey walls, cladded like exterior, create a Scandinavian feel. The look has been lightened with off-white sofas.
When it came to decorating, the owner incorporated industrial elements with painted furniture, metal pendants and finds from her business to create a stylish modern look. Here exposed brickwork, stone tiling and bare wood lend modern country appeal to this kitchen-diner.
Here the owners has paid homage to the original building’s roots by making the most of architectural features. An exposed brick wall is the ultimate industrial design statement. The massive brick wall has the barnlike feel that she was keen to create, and contrasts wonderfully with the upholstery.
Here she has gone for a relaxed, informal feel in the hall with a selection of well designed pieces of furniture that don’t look out of place. Here an oversized clock takes centre stage in the light-filled entrance.
Clock and bench
Vintage Barn Interiors
The owner saw a style she liked on Pinterest. The architect designed the curved wall and she chose to have it made from bricks. The stair treads are pieces of solid oak flooring cut to size by her carpenter.
A whimsical tableau catches the eye on a console table. Collect characterful, well designed items of furniture and they’ll carry off any trend.
The owner created a quiet area for relaxing under the eaves. A vaulted ceiling adds drama. Re-create the cosy feel of a country scheme with warm, rustic furniture that wouldn’t look out of place in a French farmhouse.
A roll-top bath ensures a statement scheme. A simple double-ended bath design leaves plenty of space to relax.
People say how calm the house feels. It’s so cosy in winter, but it’s also great in summer because it’s south-facing. And, best of all, it’s tranquil and quiet.’