Barn conversion ideas and designs for rustic buildings

Barn conversions, including rustic cottages and large country barns full of style ideas and design tips

Do you dream of buying a barn conversion when you next move, or are you the lucky owner of a beautifully converted building already?

The architecture of a barn conversion can introduce interesting design elements to an interior. The property may have areas linked by glass, or mezzanine levels that have been created to make the most of soaring, vaulted ceilings and large living spaces.

Decorate your barn in a style that will flow seamlessly from one room to another. It's a good idea to create zones to break up a large living space, with spots for relaxing and a smart eating area. Also use lighting to define each space and create atmosphere. Combine striking chandeliers with sets of pendant or exposed-bulb lighting, and mix standard and table lamps to lend a cosy feel.

While barns may be located in the country, there's no rule that says you have to opt for country style when it comes to the interior design. Modern country decorating schemes will complement the exposed wood beams and rustic features of a barn conversion, however sleek furniture can also look great in large open-plan spaces with polished wood floors and high ceilings.

Make the most of beautiful views with a picture window. French windows or bi-fold doors that open on to a garden are another common feature of barn conversions, so consider your outdoor furniture and terrace as part of the overall room design.

Whether it's the architecture or peaceful countryside locations that you love, browse through our gallery of family homes and rustic retreats, which are all packed with character and original features.

Barn conversion ideas with both modern and traditional  aesthetics

1. Go open-plan

living room with open plan barn

(Image credit: Future PLC/Matthew Williams)

The exposed original rustic oak beams in this modern barn conversion provide a large open-plan space – perfect for family living.

2. Introduce natural timber windows for a traditional look

house with windows

(Image credit: Future PLC/Bruce Hemming)

This large barn conversion features wooden windows that help create a classic look. The spacious driveway re-inforces the building's imposing appearance.

3. Open each room out onto a terrace

house with terrace

(Image credit: Future PLC/Robert Sanderson)

This 19th century terraced barn features large glass windows and a landscaped garden, adding an elegant, modern feel to the property.

4. Paint in black for a modern edge

house with door and chair

(Image credit: Future PLC/Brent Darby)

The extra skylights in this 19th century barn conversion add much-needed light inside, while the large patio increases the living space outside, making it the perfect family home.

5. Leave the roof space open for an airy feel

living space with ceiling beams

(Image credit: Future PLC/Lizzie Orme)

The original beams in this converted barn is made even more impressive by opening up the height of the building to create a bright and airy living space.

6. Reference the building's origins

stone house with window and lawn

(Image credit: Future PLC/Lizzie Orme)

The detailing on the wooden doors and window shutters makes this converted dairy barn welcoming and cosy.

By keeping the shutters over the modern French windows, the building references its original use and you can shut out the light in a bedroom. 

7. Go big

villa with window and lawn

(Image credit: Future PLC/Brent Darby)

Take advantage of a larger barn's scale by creating a spacious home, and don't be intimidated. 

This huge Victorian barn is the perfect country home. The exterior features traditional black clapperboard mixed with original stone.

8/14 Country bathroom barn conversion

8. Be creative with the positioning of your plumbing

bathroom with bathtub

(Image credit: Future PLC/Bruce Hemming)

It's likely you'll need to start from scratch with your plumbing and electrics. And this is something to embrace. It allows you to be creative when it comes to the position of a bath or en suite. Plus, you can have as many plug sockets as you like!

The exposed beams help add a rustic feel to this neutral bathroom, situated in the centre of a spacious bedroom. French windows with white shutters inject some classic country-style.

9. Use local materials for authenticity

house with lawn

(Image credit: Future PLC/Colin Poole)

When restoring an old barn, it's important to use materials that suit the aesthetic of the existing structure. Try to use local, reclaimed stone where possible on a stone building. Only will this blend seamlessly with what's there, it will also have a lower environmental impact.

This stone barn conversion features a striking semi-circular window – perfect for adding a modern touch to a country building.

Can't get enough of barn conversions? See the essential guide to barn conversions here.

10. Mix materials

house with lawn area

(Image credit: TBC)

The grand entrance to this barn conversion creates quite the impression upon arrival. A stylish mixture of materials adds interest to the large building.

11. Celebrate the dormer window

house with garden lawn

(Image credit: TBC)

Most barn conversions will have a large pitched roof and be much longer than they are wide. Dormer windows will therefore be the best solution for first floor rooms, with a long corridor joining them on one side.

Situated in front of a perfectly manicured lawn, this barn conversion is sleek and stylish whilst still managing to retain lots of character.

12/14 Fountain centrepiece

12. Introduce grand features in your landscaping

house with lawn area and fountain

(Image credit: TBC)

It can be difficult to strike a balance between a large building like a barn and the plot that surrounds it. It's best to be ambitious with your garden landscaping, reflecting the scale of your building in generously sized features such as fountains, flowerbeds and a sweeping driveway.

The clean-cut, modern windows in this home work beautifully alongside the traditional brick walls, and the fountain in the garden adds a touch of grandeur.

13. Embrace the wonky and uneven

house with plant and door

(Image credit: TBC)

Many very old barns will have bowed walls, wavering roofs and beams that seemingly have a life of their own. But provided they are structurally sound, learn to love them. They are all part of the charm of the building. 

This thatched converted country barn comes complete with a cow shed. Built originally around 1615, this house is packed full of history.


Tamara was Ideal Home's Digital Editor before joining the Woman & Home team in 2022. She has spent the last 15 years working with the style teams at Country Homes & Interiors and Ideal Home, both now at Future PLC. It’s with these award wining interiors teams that she's honed her skills and passion for shopping, styling and writing. Tamara is always ahead of the curve when it comes to interiors trends – and is great at seeking out designer dupes on the high street.