Acquiring a barn in England is one thing, but renovating it and achieving council permission to do so, is another feat all together. Seymour-Smith Architects were approached by the owners of this derelict Cotswold stone barn in the West Midlands county of Warwickshire, which is affectionately and colloquially dubbed as
Shakespeare's County, as it is the birthplace of the great English writer—William Shakespeare. A rural county known for its bountiful meadows and rolling hills, the style of this barn is suited to the vernacular of buildings in the area, so it comes as no surprise that council would require the aesthetics to be maintained, enforcing stringent rules for both planning and restoration.
After clever design solutions were employed by the architects, the barn was converted into a modern two bedroom home for its occupants. The outside embodies a masterfully restored barn, whereas the inside allows for modern life to be maintained, with all the creature comforts we need in tow. Take a look…
By looking at this wonderfully restored frontage, you would never imagine that it would house a contemporary interior fit out. In fact, the exterior gives very little away, perhaps nothing at all, with no drastic changes or additions made. This traditional, yet mysterious façade whets our appetite and makes us even more curious to see what's inside. The large wooden door beckons us to enter and have a sneak peek of rural life in Warwickshire… but with a twist!
Here, the contrast we mentioned earlier is evident, as we are greeted by a curved steel staircase. This bold and contemporary element creates a stunning juxtaposition between the external and internal spaces. As seen above, from the outside you would really have no clue at all. Complementing the steel of the staircase is a silver wood heater, in contrast again with the mismatched country style chairs and wooden dining table. The stark white interior helps to flood the interior with natural light, totally defying the notion of what you would expect to find inside.
Country life centres very much around profitable and bountiful harvest. Going hand-in-hand with this sentiment is the need for a big kitchen; the heart of every home, where Sunday Roasts and seasonal pies can bake in the oven. Close your eyes and imagine for a moment the glorious scents and aromas that fill the house during a winter's day—this idea conjures up both mouth watering and soul touching memories of our time spent in the countryside on holidays. This type of life can very easily be traded in for the big city smoke, allowing us to have our patch of land and serenity every day.
In this image, we can see how the architects have ingeniously used the tall ceilings of the barn, making the most of the available space by the installation of a mezzanine area. An idea that surfaces often in retrofits and restorations of old buildings these days, as it allows the occupants additional living or sleeping space within a confined area. The best thing? It doesn't detract or take away from the exterior at all as only the internal footprint is modified. It also allows us to get closer to the stunning detail found underneath these roofs, with big wooden trusses and beams allowed to take centre stage instead of blending into the background.
Every modern home needs a contemporary bathroom, except this example pays homage to the past of the building by allowing a few of the wooden trusses to remain visible. The pale colour scheme selected is a great way to make sure the available light is bounced and refracted effectively, illuminating all those hard to reach corners. The simple border of wood around the basin and cabinetry ties the timber of the roof in with the interior theme, balancing both old and modern elements together in harmony.
During winter months in the countryside, the perfect adjective to describe how we should feel is cosy! This sitting area embodies the meaning of the word, using warm material textures and filling the space with all the goodies we need to remain entertained when the weather outside is no longer suitable to be in. Whether it is under the blanket with a book or glass of wine, this space is indeed cosy and inviting in the grand scheme of things, and is perhaps so much so, that you may never want to leave it once you get settled in. You may notice one point of difference here, however. The walls are not plasterboard or rendered like in the other rooms, they are the traditional stucco of the original barn, yet given a contemporary twist with a bold lick of stark white paint.
To finish, we will take a look at one of the bedrooms. Again, the glorious wooden trusses and beams of the original barn are visible, creating such a wonderful element to wake up to. Cosy again, like the sitting room, the bedroom is the perfect haven for relaxation and respite after a busy day—or even for a lazy Sunday in bed.
To see more conversion and restoration projects in the UK, check out the following ideabooks: