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
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