JUDITH Brook spent years dreaming how she would convert a barn on her parents’ farm into a family home. Sharon Dale reports. Pictures by Jonathan Gawthorpe.
The cosy kitchen would have an Aga and scrubbed pine table, while the rest of the interior would be country living meets shabby chic festooned with vintage florals.
Yet the reality couldn’t be further from Judith Brook’s first imaginings, thanks to a complete volte-face.
Her newly-converted barn is modern and minimal due in part to builder Terry Huggett, whose love of contemporary design is evident in his own California-style home.
Judith says: “I’d thought of converting the barn for what seemed like forever. I used to walk round them when I was 17 and plan how I’d have it. It was always going to be lots of separate rooms and olde world with an Aga and old pine furniture.
“But two things happened. I went to the new St Pancras Station and that was a big inspiration. It made me want exposed brickwork and lots of glass.
“Then Terry showed me his own house and led me to a more contemporary, open plan approach. I still clung on to the idea of a country kitchen, but he eventually persuaded me that a modern one would be better and he was right because I love it, although I did insist on having a pantry.”
But before a brick was moved, she had to fight for planning permission. The barn was attached to her parents’ farmhouse on the outskirts of a village near Rotherham, and the council were concerned about the development. A bat survey was also required.
Judith says: “The survey involved a group of bat experts with torches watching the barn at dusk and dawn. As there was evidence of bats we were restricted to when the roof could be taken off and had to avoid the breeding season. The roof excavation then had to be conducted under the watchful eye of a bat expert.”
Conservation architect David Bamford helped overcome obstacles, but it still took a year to get consent to start work.
The plan was to create a largely open plan living space on the ground floor with a separate cloakroom, boot room , utility and cinema room.
A new first floor would give them four bedrooms, three bathrooms, a dressing room and a laundry chute.
Judith wanted the character of the original building to be visible with exposed brickwork, cast iron columns and beams. Another mission was to make the property eco-friendly, so she planned in under floor heating, air tightness, rain water harvesting and lots of insulation.
With Terry on board and a budget in place, Judith gave up work and became project manager and labourer.
She, husband Chris and their two children Archie, nine, and Tess, seven, lived in their cottage nearby while their new home was built.
“The build was my life for a year and I absolutely loved every single moment of it. If I wasn’t on site I was sourcing materials,” says Judith.
Work started with some demolition to achieve stability and level floors. The North Elevation wall was completely rebuilt.
As the build progressed, Judith made some changes. She decided to create a large family area/office on the ground floor, which is now the most popular space in the house and thanks to its four computers, it has been nicknamed the internet café. Instead of an en-suite for Archie, she made the house bathroom much bigger. She was also forced to sacrifice most of the original beams that were too rotten and too low and had to find new ones. “I became obsessed with the beams and one of my favourite days was when they were delivered on site. I was upset at losing the original ones, but now I like the contrast between old and new.”
As work progressed and funds diminished, she had to become more creative.
Instead of an expensive poured concrete floor she used floor tiles from B&Q and saved £4,000. The Leicht kitchen was also good value at £14,000 for the units, appliances and Corian work surfaces.
Her budget buys helped fund some important statement pieces including the Ligne Roet Togo sofa in the sitting room and the Philippe Starck Ghost chairs in the dining area.
“The only furniture I kept from the old house was a sofa that we put in the cinema room and the rest I bought new, mainly from Ponsford’s in Sheffield, because nothing I had really matched,” she says.
For her new minimal look to succeed it was crucial important to keep the place clutter-free, so she and Terry devised some innovative storage pods in the roof space upstairs.
“Everything went well thanks to Terry, He’s brilliant and I trusted him to the enth degree. I knew nothing would be over looked,” says Judith, who moved into her new home in December last year.
The total cost of the conversion and fit-out was about £270,000 and took about a year. Judith is now working as a part-time celebrant conducting weddings, while building a bee-keeping business making wax candles and staging honey parties and talks about bees.
“My family lost me for a year really but it was worth it. I loved being part of the build and we all love living here now. It’s amazing and I still can’t believe my dad used to store the tractor in what is now the cinema room, the kitchen was my horse’s stable and the dining area was where we had a snooker table.”
For more information on Judith’s barn visit www.ecolife.me.uk
JUDITH’S USEFUL CONTACTS
* Architect – David Bamford Architects, www.davidbamfordarchitects.co.ukk, tel. 01943 466988
* Builder/Design Consultant – Terry Huggett Developments, www.terryhuggettdevelopments.co.uk, tel. 07974 262040
* Leicht kitchen – John Longley, Barnsley, www.jslongley.co.uk, tel – 01226 248766
* Bathroom – Platinum Bathrooms, www.platinum-bathrooms.com, tel – 01709 588822
* Aluminium Bi- Folding Doors – Danum Windows, www.danumltd.co.uk, tel – 01709 772080
* Builders Merchants : Jacksons , www.jacksonbc.co.uk
* Plumbing and Central Heating – J P Foss, Email email@example.com
* Electrician – Russell Beardsley, Email firstname.lastname@example.org
* Joinery – Barry Denton, Email email@example.com
* Plastering – Andrew Huggett, Email firstname.lastname@example.org
* Mural in Archie’s room- Jane Connolly, Email – email@example.com
* Furniture – Ponsford, Sheffield, ww.ponsford.co.uk