this ‘I’ve brought back old to barn life’

Con­vert­ing a ram­shackle barn in the north­ern French coun­try­side has been a long but ul­ti­mately sat­is­fy­ing jour­ney for Rachel Cop­pens

Ideal Home (UK) - - Real Home - Rachel Cop­pens, a stylist, lives here with her son Louka, three.

It was the stun­ning vaulted ceil­ing that clinched it for Rachel Cop­pens when she first vis­ited this ram­shackle barn just out­side Lille. While the di­lap­i­dated struc­ture needed a huge amount of work, for Rachel and her now ex-hus­band, the ex­posed beams, stun­ning vaulted ceil­ing, vast open-plan space and coun­try­side lo­ca­tion far out­weighed any neg­a­tives.

‘We were liv­ing in the cen­tre of Lille, but wanted to move out into the coun­try­side,’ says Rachel. ‘The large, open in­te­rior and out­door space was ev­ery­thing we needed.’ They un­der­took much of the ren­o­va­tion work them­selves, con­serv­ing and restor­ing the barn’s orig­i­nal frame­work and adding a tim­ber ex­ten­sion. The orig­i­nal 95sq m out­build­ing houses the liv­ing and din­ing space and con­nect­ing kitchen, while the main bed­room, en suite, two ad­di­tional bed­rooms and bath­room are in a new ex­ten­sion.

To­wards the end of the project, a par­quet floor that had been painstak­ingly laid was ru­ined by a flood. ‘We came back from hol­i­day to find our­selves knee deep in wa­ter, with the house flooded due to heavy rain,’ says Rachel. ‘We didn’t have the en­ergy to start over, so we had the floor raised, in­stalled un­der­floor heat­ing and fit­ted a con­crete floor with a white epoxy resin coat­ing. I’m so glad we did, as it makes the space feel so much brighter and is more com­fort­able un­der­foot.’

Rachel couldn’t wait to get started on the in­te­rior.

‘My style is a bit of a melt­ing pot – a mix­ture of rus­tic and bohemian in­flu­ences. I travel a lot for my work, which is a source of in­spi­ra­tion, so the in­te­rior here is a real blend. I’m lucky to live so close to Lille and near Bel­gium, where there are lots of an­tiques and in­te­ri­ors shops. I love un­earthing old fur­ni­ture and other pieces that give this place orig­i­nal­ity and char­ac­ter.’

“I wanted to move out into the coun­try­side be­fore the birth of my first child, and when I walked into this barn, I knew it was ev­ery­thing I had been look­ing for. I could imag­ine liv­ing here and knew I’d found our home

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