Rehashed conversion adds space and value
THE trouble with barn conversions is that the early ones were often thrown together quickly and without much thought to the flow and design of the building. This was such a property. To keep down costs and to make the build easier, the original conversion had bypassed some key decisions and compromised on space when the layout was agreed.
We were brought in by more recent owners to look at the architectural interior together with the exterior and to address the flaws.
In particular, we considered a series of dark rooms used mainly for laundry and as a utility area. The boiler was here and off a corridor was a door to the outside. Together, these rooms were uninspiring and isolated from the rest of the house: a waste of valuable floor space.
We stripped out everything except the original stone wall facing the road and rebuilt the roof with exposed oak rafters. Not only did this create the feeling of an old agricultural building, and was more appropriate architecturally for the building, the changes gave the interior a character and spaciousness that was lacking.
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The relationship with the outside changed for the better, too. New glazed panels and folding double doors allow for ease of access to a new sun deck and serve to fill the room with light.
Now it's possible to step down from the kitchen to this lower level, which has been transformed into a dining area, sun-room and snug.
The tall stone chimney breast defines the end of the space and the wood-burning stove is framed by a chunky oak mantelpiece. The painted panel, adorned with antlers, is a clever way of hiding an inspection access hatch for the flue.
The strong red painted on the walls, inspired by the Tate in London, creates a lived-in feel rather than a fresh, "new-build" finish. Lights placed between the rafters illuminate the opposite splay of the roof to avoid a striped effect, while large drum pendant lights give a contemporary feel to the space while keeping it simple and classic. Pleated fabric rather than plastic or metal shades helps to soften the acoustics.
Incorporating the clients' existing wooden table and farmhouse-style chairs, we built a bench seat along part of the rear wall to define the dining area. Tall cupboards (housing electrical and technical equipment) frame either side of the bench. This also helps to establish the separate snug area by the fire at the end of the room, where a couch and rug make for a cosy reading area.
No longer isolated, this extra reception room is an integral part of the home and has added value to the property. In terms of creating a heart to this home, it is equally valuable on a personal level to the family who live here. They can now enjoy the space and want to spend time here.
It's a far cry from the 1980s legacy and proof that conversions can keep the faith.
Gill Richardson is one half of the award- winning husband and wife team, Goodchild Interiors of Clifton. Contact Gill on 0117 927 9475, or visit www.goodchildinteriors.net.