Design Feature: The French ConnectionPublished on 8th May 2015
Step in through the doors of the French’s property and you could almost feel like you’ve come home. Almost? Although it emanates warmth, welcome and effortless tranquillity, there are very few homes that could boast a kitchen as beautiful as this one.
Hand-crafted, pastel-toned wooden cabinets sit snugly within a cosy, naturally-lit interior, fingers of sunlight caressing every available surface. The polished limestone flooring blends seamlessly with the outdoors seating area and herb garden, through the expansive folding-sliding doors, creating a sense of limitless space and freedom unusual in such a modest kitchen-diner. The overall impression is one of permanence; of lasting quality; something rare to find in a barn conversion.
Barn conversions can be complex things to get right; try to emulate the period features with more reliable modern materials and unless your architect, builders and carpenters are fully on the ball, you’ll likely end up with an awkward pastiche, and yet the ultra-modern can often be jarring. Contrast requires careful control and a delicacy of vision; attributes unmistakeably at play in the design of the French property.
Following the lines of the original structure, the conversion of this picturesque 17th century barn in Lancashire, owes much of its obvious success to understatement. Rather than barging in with bombastic enthusiasm for restructuring and reshaping at the cost of the property’s soul, Mr and Mrs French sought to embrace the existing features of the building, incorporating the simplicity without being slaves to it. The first step was to lift the tenebrous atmosphere so common to single-storey conversions – bespoke glass architecture specialists Apropos seemed the perfect match for the job.
Mr and Mrs French didn’t wish to disrupt the simple form of their new home with a glazed extension which would stand proud of the original structure, but it was essential to find a way to bring more natural light into the property’s interior. Working closely with the Apropos design team, the initial concept was to incorporate glazed curtain walling into the structure, but with such an inviting courtyard garden beckoning through the glass, the thought of Aprofold doors soon took hold in the minds of all. With no fixed ground frames, the bi-fold doors allowed for flawless access to outside areas, while the fine sightlines ensured the perfect view in all seasons. Finished in subtle brown polyester powder coating for low-maintenance durability, the doors opened up the relatively small kitchen space, but yet still more light was needed, and this was achieved through a combination of skylights and glazed roof panels.
Again maintaining the line of the existing building, the fixed glazed roof panels appear as if they have always been there, bringing light into the home on the gloomiest of days, subtle in their modernity and yet creating a vastly improved atmosphere.
Despite having lived in their barn conversion for a number of years now, Mr and Mrs French are still in love with their Lancashire home; ‘this is it for us now; this is our forever home.’ It’s really no hard task to see why.Return to Blog