When we hear the word
barn, our minds automatically wander to the countryside. Originally an agricultural building attached to the main farmhouse, there are barns scattered across rural England, some of which are in dire need of attention and care. Nowadays, these dilapidated buildings are hot property, once left abandoned, now soaring in value. Retaining the external façade of a traditional barn is key; the main reason being that the building, unlike modern constructions, identifies completely with the landscape it is situated in. It also contributes to the history of the area, with the style and shape being a tell tale sign of both the era and original use of the barn. For example, the earliest examples of barns had stone roofs, followed by thatched, then in the late 1800s thanks to the industrial revolution, steel came into play.
The problem with old barns, especially if the desire is to convert them into a modern family home, are the structural issues presented. Problems can be found in the existing timber framework, the masonry can be worn down because of harsh weather conditions and lack of upkeep, as well as identifiable foundation issues due to ground movement and rising tree roots. Many barns have been deserted and forgotten, with Mother Nature reclaiming the building back for herself. Today on homify, we are going to look at an absolutely mind-blowing 16th century barn conversion in Hertfordshire. From the outside, a traditional barn shape is evident, with a few modern additions hinting that the building has evolved over time. From the inside, however, the skeletal remains of the original timber joinery and framework remain, creating the most intoxicating juxtaposition between traditional barn design and bold, contemporary interior design. Adelina Iliev Photography has masterfully captured this incredible project which was completed by Nic Antony Architects. Take a look…
At first glance, we can immediately recognise that this is indeed a barn, yet we see a subtle touch of modernity through the slick windows and frames. The timber on the outside, although weathered in appearance, has a contemporary touch to it. The tiled roof, which as mentioned above, is evidence of the era. At this point, it is inevitable for one to wonder, what treasures are hidden behind this traditional, yet modern façade?
From this angle, the manicured garden, with the symmetrical row of hedges and freshly mowed lawn, adds at touch of quintessential British charm. Again, even from this view, our interest in perked by the obvious tinge of modern features, such as the double height glass entrance doors that discreetly pop out from the external woodwork.
The interior, however, while rustic and historical in charm, has been given a face lift—one like we've never seen before. The soaring triple height ceiling gives an overwhelming impression of space. For a moment, the eye doesn't know where to look—to the bold, white modern formations or following the line of the existing timber, up and down the walls and ceilings.
From this angle, we get a better view of the internal walls, and can see the high levels windows we viewed in the first image. The brick wood stove is a great feature to this living space, essentially acting as the heart of the home. An area to gather around with friends, family, or in solitude, this living room is conducive to relaxation and respite—the perfect adjectives to describe what one should do after a busy day. The pale coloured leather in soft earthy shades of brown and beige complement the interior colour scheme perfectly, paying homage to and respecting the uniformity of the timber and slithers of white walls.
This is definitely not something you would expect to see inside a traditional barn—but this is exactly what makes the project so interesting. In complete contrast, yet not disrespecting the interior theme in the slightest, is this internal partition painted a stellar shade of charcoal grey. With the TV discreetly mounted on the wall, it tells a story that despite the historical appearance, modern creature comforts are needed, and represented within. Unfortunately, it is not known what is housed inside this extruded cube; perhaps an intimate bedroom space—who knows? Your guess is as good as ours!
From the mezzanine level, which houses a cosy lounge nook, you can see the modern white box in all its angular and geometric glory. Then, what appears to be a disco ball straight out of the 70s cult movie Saturday Night Fever, is actually an incredible silver spherical lamp. Again, there is an obvious divide, an almost push-pull between new and old, but to outstanding and magnificent effect. This home is all about contrasts and contradictions, so why do something by halves when it can be done with full force?
To finish, we take one last look at the intricate and restored structural work of the barn. With a mesmerising effect, the interaction of columns, beams and rafters have us transfixed. Then, as we look down, we are again reminded of the modern internal layout which embodies the past, present and future all in one.
To see more exciting examples of UK barn conversions, see the following ideabooks: