WARWICKSHIRE BARN CONVERSION
EMMA BOND TOOK INSPIRATION FROM THE SURROUNDING LANDSCAPE WHEN SHE DECORATED HER HOME WITH A TOUCH OF HUNTING-LODGE CHIC
How a blank canvas left by the builder became a quirky rural home
EmmaBond’s home is surrounded by the Warwickshire woodlands, thanks to publisher Felix Dennis, who left much of his £500 million fortune to creating the country’s largest new native forest. ‘Appropriately, his charity is called Heart of England,’ says Emma. ‘It’s committed to reversing the decline of our woodlands and has planted more than 1.3 million broadleaf trees across 3,000 acres. Centuries ago our home would have been in a forest; now the trees have returned.’ So have the deer, which inspired Emma to give her home a hunting-lodge theme.
‘It’s an 1870s converted barn, built with local brick and a claytiled roof, and was once a farmhouse,’ she says. ‘Ten years ago a builder had converted it into a five-bedroom house. Externally, it had tremendous character but every room had been painted bland cream. It had lovely features, such as oak beams, and every room was a different size, shape and height! It had an odd sprawling layout, too, and overall there was a quirkiness that appealed.’
So the family moved from their Victorian terraced house in Stratford-upon-avon. ‘Six years previously we had left the countryside,’ says Emma. ‘But we all missed the trees.’
The L-shaped barn consists of a long corridor, with three bedrooms and bathrooms leading off it, which used to be stables. The barn was in perfect structural condition. ‘But even if we wanted, we wouldn’t be allowed to do any building work as our land has the remains of a medieval settlement, protected by English Heritage,’ says Emma. ‘We are on a very old site. Close
by is Coughton Court, a Grade I-listed Tudor building on an estate.’
All the oak beams had been blasted to restore their natural colour, now faded, and most of the ground-level flooring is oak. ‘I chose a very unusual wallpaper for the corridor,’ she says. ‘It resembles grey, dappled deer skin – wonderful against the silvery beams. In the dining room and kitchen I chose wallpapers resembling old oak panelling, and I painted the dining room ceiling light blue to draw the eye upward to the magnificent beams.’
The ceiling in the main bedroom is even higher. ‘We think it’s where they stored hay,’ says Emma. And the hunting-lodge theme continues, with a deer-print fabric headboard as the focal point. ‘I’ve chosen tartan cushions for the two sofas that I’ve had re-covered in a tweed wool,’ she says. ‘Throughout I’ve chosen antique oak, walnut and mahogany furniture – including Richard’s old dining table, sawn in half to make two demi-lune side tables!’
However, the two girls’ bedrooms are a modern contrast. ‘Olivia chose a giant pattern wallpaper because her room is so high – at least 12 feet,’ says Emma. ‘Scarlett’s room is even taller so we’ve built her a mezzanine-level bed.’
Outside, the old uneven patio flagstones were lifted, cleaned and re-laid and Emma has planted several dozen more shrubs. And in the old orchard are 14 rare-breed Pekin, Rhode Island and Marin chickens, for eggs. ‘We really have returned to the heart of the countryside,’ she says.
Kitchen A coat of paint and new tiles transformed this room into the heart of the home. Cabinetry, painted in French Gray by Farrow & Ball.
Wall tiles, Stratford Tile Warehouse.
Living room Exotic accents mix with classic furnishings. Antique Indonesian window, converted into a mirror, Bonds Lifestyle. Armchairs, Made; re-covered in herringbone linen, The Fabric Hut.
Gourds in a slipware bowl, with small, colourful Indian dishes from Homesense.
Guest bedroom The woodland theme is continued with plantmotif fabric. Headboard and bedspread fabric, Flora & Fauna; large cushions, Wild & Free, both Vanessa Arbuthnott.