Finding a property project in a great location is difficult these days, thanks in large part to TV’s Grand Designs series, which has fuelled the desire to renovate, convert and self-build. Gareth and Rebecca Connell were among those struggling to find “the one” until Rebecca’s dad came to the rescue with details of a derelict barn for sale in the sought-after village of Boston Spa, near Wetherby.
“We had sold our house and couldn’t find anything to move to when my dad told us about the barn, which was owned by the church. We went to look at it straight away,” says Rebecca.
Gareth runs Leeds-based CC Construction Yorkshire Ltd, a building contractor specialising in inner-city commercial property, so with the benefit of his knowledge and his skill set, they made an offer almost straight away, having a good idea of what the conversion was likely to entail and how much it might cost.
While the 250-year-old stone barn came with planning permission for conversion into a three-bedroom home, the Connells, who have two children, wanted more space and hired a planning consultant for advice on demolishing the adjoining cow shed to make way for an extension.
The key advice was to buy the barn first before applying for an extension and it worked. “It still took a year to get planning permission but it was worth the wait,” says Rebecca. She and Gareth, who moved into rented accommodation for the duration of the build, were keen to retain the barn’s heritage on the outside but wanted a light-filled, contemporary interior, which is why they hired Leeds-based architect James Butterworth, founder of Studio-J.
James says: “It was great to work on what was a near derelict barn and help transform it into a bespoke, contemporary home but due to the unique character of the building and being on the edge of the green belt we had to work hard to satisfy the planning authority’s requirements, while also giving Gareth and Rebecca a building with the wow factor they were looking for.
"With an adjacent road behind the property, the design orientates the rooms so that they have views over the garden and fields beyond. We also designed a double-height entrance hall, which adds a wow factor and links all the main accommodation within the property. Also key was getting lots of natural light into what could have been a very dark building.”
With permissions and the design in place, it took the couple just seven months to create their much-loved family home.
“There were issues we had to get round, including digging out the floor to get the right ceiling height and that meant we had 400 tons of muck to get rid of,” says Gareth, who built a new internal wall structure while protecting and repairing the historic exterior of the building. This gave them the modern home they wanted inside.
Gareth and Rebecca, who has a degree in fashion design, worked together on the interior design, though Gareth was insistent on having a concrete floor in the hall and open-plan living space. “He wanted a polished concrete floor and I wasn’t sure at all but I went with it and I love it. It’s minimalist, which I like, and it’s really easy to keep clean,” says Rebecca, who drew up moodboards while getting inspiration from Pinterest and homes and interiors magazines.
The stunning staircase was her idea and the detailed design was drawn up for them by Studio Koti before being made by the team at CC Construction. “We are lucky because it came in at a quarter of the price it would’ve cost from a staircase manufacturer,” says Rebecca. The kitchen, which is part of the open-plan living area, is by Leeds-based Kreativ Kitchens. The pendant lights above are from Ocean Lighting, while the dining table is from Heal’s.
The separate sitting room has parquet flooring and features a glazed curtain wall with views over the fields beyond. A feature wall housing the fire is painted in a deep emerald colour from Little Greene. What they thought could be an office or a reading room for book lover Rebecca became a cinema room for watching sport and movies and it has been a big success.
Upstairs, the four bedrooms are all spacious and the bathroom suites with gold taps are from Lusso Stone.
While both Rebecca and Gareth love taking on new projects and have been serial movers until now, this barn conversion and extension may be a keeper. Rebecca says: “We love living in Boston Spa and our children do too. I think perhaps we will finally put down some roots.”
Rebecca and Gareth’s favourite places to shop for homeware include interiors department store Redbrick Mill in Batley, Loaf.com and Sofa Workshop.
Useful Contacts:Architect James Butterworth, Leeds, www.studio-j.co.uk
CC Construction, www.cc-constructionyorkshire.co.uk
Kreativ Kitchens, Leeds, www.kreativkitchens.co.uk
Stairs and cloakroom design from Studio Koti, www.storiesofkoti.com
Cinema room by Acoustic Pixel, www.acousticpixel.co.uk
*Please support The Yorkshire Post and become a subscriber today. Your subscription will help us to continue to bring quality news to the people of Yorkshire. In return, you'll see fewer ads on site, get free access to our app and receive exclusive members-only offers. Click here to subscribe