Sec­ond chance

When fate in­ter­vened, Ni­chola Trayler-bar­brook seized a golden op­por­tu­nity to trans­form a barn con­ver­sion into a stun­ning home

Real Homes - - CONTENTS -

Ni­chola Trayler-bar-brook seized a golden op­por­tu­nity to trans­form a barn con­ver­sion into a stun­ning home

Look­ing round her stun­ning house to­day, Ni­chola finds it hard to be­lieve that she once turned her back on what has be­come the home she adores. ‘When I first viewed this barn con­ver­sion I dis­missed it as I felt it was too small and lacked po­ten­tial,’ says Ni­chola. ‘It was a de­ci­sion I’d quickly re­gret.’ Af­ter ty­ing the knot in 2013, Ni­chola and her hus­band Alex were on the look­out for a new home and liked the idea of swap­ping their mod­ern three-storey town­house for some­thing with more char­ac­ter. Hav­ing trawled the in­ter­net, Ni­chola dis­cov­ered a quaint-look­ing barn in a pretty Hert­ford­shire vil­lage. ‘I was so ex­cited when I drove up and saw the con­verted cow byre,’ she re­calls.

Ni­chola’s ex­cite­ment turned to dis­ap­point­ment, how­ever, as al­though the set­ting was un­doubt­edly idyl­lic, she had a sink­ing feel­ing that the barn just wasn’t quite right. ‘Af­ter walk­ing from room to room, I felt that it was too cramped,’ she re­calls. ‘Plus, its lo­ca­tion in a Con­ser­va­tion Area put me off as I as­sumed that ex­tend­ing could be prob­lem­atic.’

To Ni­chola’s sur­prise, that very night an­other set of buy­ers put in an of­fer for the barn and it was im­me­di­ately taken off the mar­ket. In the months that fol­lowed, she con­tin­ued her search for her dream barn con­ver­sion but noth­ing suit­able came on the mar­ket. ‘I soon re­alised that re­ject­ing the first barn had been a mis­take,’ she says.

All was not lost, how­ever, as sev­eral months later the orig­i­nal barn came back on the mar­ket and Ni­chola was quick to ar­range a sec­ond view­ing. ‘This time I vis­ited when it was dusk and the own­ers had turned on the lamps and lit can­dles, so ev­ery room looked charm­ing,’ she ex­plains. ‘Hav­ing chat­ted to the es­tate agent, I dis­cov­ered there was scope to ex­tend too, giv­ing me the op­tion of cre­at­ing the walk-in larder and util­ity room I was af­ter.’

With Alex also on board, the pair snapped up the prop­erty and moved in not long af­ter. When builder Dan Row­ley, a fam­ily friend, vis­ited the prop­erty to do some work for the cou­ple sev­eral months later, he had some ideas about how they could re­jig the lay­out to cre­ate more space. ‘It prompted us to ring ar­chi­tect Craig Hum­ber of Croe Ar­chi­tects and, from that mo­ment, ev­ery­thing quickly gained pace,’ says Ni­chola. ‘We ended up dis­cussing am­bi­tious plans to ex­tend at the rear.’

The pro­posed de­sign would add a sub­stan­tial amount of space, with an oak-framed ex­ten­sion to cre­ate a vaulted din­ing room, a stun­ning mas­ter bed­room with en suite, a small ter­race link­ing the new spa­ces seam­lessly to­gether, a com­pact loft bed­room and, of course, the sought-af­ter larder and util­ity room. ‘It was a ma­jor project, but we felt it was worth tak­ing on so much work as it would com­pletely trans­form the house,’ says Ni­chola.

With plan­ning per­mis­sion passed, work be­gan in De­cem­ber and took un­til July the fol­low­ing year, with the cou­ple also de­cid­ing to make ma­jor al­ter­ations to the kitchen and main bath­room. ‘It made sense to do the work at the same time,’ ad­mits Ni­chola. ‘It ended up cost­ing more than we’d an­tic­i­pated, but we firmly be­lieved the end re­sult would be worth ev­ery penny.’

Once the ma­jor build­ing work was com­pleted, Ni­chola care­fully con­sid­ered the dec­o­rat­ing schemes for each room, choos­ing chalky grey paint as the back­drop to her fur­ni­ture and ac­ces­sories. ‘My aim was to strike a bal­ance be­tween be­ing sym­pa­thetic to this char­ac­ter prop­erty and in­ject­ing a few con­tem­po­rary touches,’ she says. ‘We’ve teamed fur­ni­ture from our old house with new, more rus­tic pieces. I must ad­mit, I went to great lengths to achieve the look we were af­ter; find­ing the rose gold bath­room fit­tings I wanted was def­i­nitely one of the big­gest chal­lenges.’

There’s no deny­ing that Ni­chola and Alex have cre­ated a beau­ti­ful home that they’re jus­ti­fi­ably proud of. ‘We both love our barn,’ says Ni­chola. ‘From the out­side, you’d never guess what lies be­hind the door, and peo­ple of­ten com­ment that it’s a bit of a Tardis. I’m so glad fate in­ter­vened and al­lowed us to buy a prop­erty that’s be­come such a spe­cial home.’ ➤

‘It was a ma­jor project, but it was worth tak­ing on so much work to com­pletely trans­form the house’

be­fore pre­vi­ous scheme Above Ni­chola and alex liked the sense of height and char­ac­ter in the old kitchen, but wanted to give the space a more so­cia­ble lay­out by in­tro­duc­ing a cen­tral is­land unit with break­fast bar

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.