Sustainable Barn Conversion

Alissa Ugolini—homify UK Alissa Ugolini—homify UK
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When you hear or see the word barn you immediately think of the countryside, heritage listed builds and homes without running water or access to power. What if we told you that this barn is anything but the above and was actually the mastermind of people that resided in three different places in the world. Confused? Let us explain.

This contemporary barn was designed by an architect in Australia, clients in Kenya and with the construction work undertaken by Hart Design & Construction here in the UK. The project came into fruition over various Skype calls, details being kept on an on-site tablet and conversations discussing details and changes happening over a private blog. It sounds absolutely ludicrous but this is indeed the way forward and sets a precedence for building, design and architecture in years to come.

Using modern and cutting edge materials, the brief was to create a barn that was low impact, sustainable, retained the traditional appearance and, most importantly, housed many bright and open plan living spaces. All of this, plus more, was achieved to great effect.

Let's take a look…  

Before: Humble beginnings

As with any great project it was essential for the designers to start from the bottom in order to work their way up to glory. The first phase of the project was to demolish, level and lower the bottom floor, removing all internal partitions without sacrificing the structural integrity of the barn. In this stage, remnants of a 1980s renovation were found, with patches of concrete block work haphazardly holding up segments of the walls.

Before: Reformations

Working on the roof / building structure:   by Hart Design and Construction
Hart Design and Construction

Working on the roof / building structure

Hart Design and Construction

Although still in the early stages, you can see progress start to take shape in contrast to the previous image. 

The excavation process has been completed and now the structural forms inside have been fixed, with the makings of a mezzanine floor becoming more obvious. New rooflights and dormer windows have been installed and a new concrete slab now graces the once undulating dirt floor.

Before: A new start

Breaking out of original openings:   by Hart Design and Construction
Hart Design and Construction

Breaking out of original openings

Hart Design and Construction

Changes have also been made to the external envelope, something that is not commonly seen in buildings of this vintage. To bring the barn into the 21st century, new openings were added to house large glass windows and doors.

The problem with barns is that their initial use was for agricultural purposes; housing animals or farm supplies. For this reason, a flow of ample natural light was not necessary. As humans, we are not conditioned to living in dark and dank homes so it's only natural that we would want to bring as much sunlight in as possible. From this image you will not believe the impact these new openings have on the internal ambience.

After: Beacon in the dark

Wow! Would you have expected this to be the finished result? Radiant and glowing, the old barn is now a culmination of two different worlds but executed with sheer perfection.

This example goes to show that it is possible to bring two contrasting styles together, overlapping historical aspects and a contemporary design brief to achieve a home of maximum impact.

After: Stunning contrasts

Finally, we see the reformed interior! The gable style roof has been totally renovated, with the timber beams and rafters given a totally new lease on life. The stark white paint behind the wood creates a wonderful juxtaposition between old and new yet does not take away or detract from the traditional barn style of the original build.

We absolutely love the pitched stone wall as it is a constant reminder to the occupants about the history of the home. Warm, yet modern furnishings can be found throughout, embodying the farm style in a way that is both contemporary and full of character. This is certainly a living space you may find very, very difficult to leave during the cold winter months.

After: Twists and turns

This gallery level floats directly above the kitchen space, with the triangular wall pitch in a deep shade of navy blue serving as a total contrast to the stone wall we saw earlier. The blue complements the warmth of the brown and the vibrancy provided by the stark white roof paint.

A fantastic interior choice to breathe a fresh and contemporary feel into a home that is rich with history. The glass railing gives the illusion that this upper floor floats and also helps to keep the spaces above and below full of natural light.

After: Light-filled

As mentioned earlier, one of the biggest hurdles faced by owners of traditional barn structures is the lack of access to natural light. This is definitely not an issue in this conversion project, with generous openings added around the perimeter of the building and even to the ceiling, to fill the home with light.

Here you see the wonderful oak framed conservatory. The mix of stone, render and woodwork performs brilliantly together and, despite the fact it is a new addition, is tied in wonderfully via the grey tiled flooring.

After: Bold modernism

The kitchen, with floating island and exciting ceiling formation, is stately and contemporary in its appeal. Instead of opting to follow a traditional theme, the owners of this home have chosen to break the mould, instead choosing to embrace modern fittings and fixtures.

The floating staircase must also be highlighted as it's another wonderful feature element to this already stunning space. Open plan and light-filled, the occupants can either casually dine around the kitchen island or, for family dinners or entertainment purposes, can eat at the long wooden table in the background.

After: A hint of the past

Even in the bathroom you cannot escape the history of the building and why would you want to? Here, the exposed stone wall is smartly played off against a set of free-standing stone basins and wooden finishes to the bath and cabinet work.

You can catch a glimpse of the shower unit through the reflection of the mirror, meaning the occupants have both a bath and shower at their whim to wash away the troubles of the day. The large mirror above the bath catches the light and helps to further illuminate the space. 

After: Suite of dreams

Last but definitely not least, we finish up inside the bedroom. There are no exposed stone walls or bold licks of paint. Rather, we find a subdued and muted space that is conducive to relaxation and respite.

Despite the obvious triangular pitch of the roof, only a few rafters remain on display. Vintage features can be found here, through the use of the floral sofa and chest at the foot of the bed. One stunning feature is the barn style door, which continues the story of the barn well and truly into every room.

To see another fabulous barn conversion project, don's miss: The Million Pound Barn.

What were your thoughts on this barn conversion? Did any of the ideas leave you feeling inspired? Let us know in the comments!
Whitton Drive:  Terrace house by GK Architects Ltd

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