Web designer Naomi Page and her husband and business partner Danny Page had always dreamed about building a new home on the grounds of his parents’ farm. They just never believed they’d get planning permission to do so.
Then they heard about Class Q permitted development, regulations designed to streamline the planning process for barn conversions. Introduced in 2014, the guidelines are part of the government’s drive to increase the availability of housing in rural areas.
Spotting the ideal opening for their grand design, Naomi and Danny applied for planning and commenced building their dream family home.
Plan for the barn conversion
Naomi and Danny wanted to create a secluded, lifelong home for themselves and their three daughters aged 15, 4 and 2. The barn’s location, surrounded by The National Forest and yet only a short drive away from the historic Leicestershire market town of Ashby-de-la-Zouch, was ideal for the rural-urban balance Naomi and Danny desired.
The barn was a steel portal composed of 4 even quarters. Downstairs, the couple wanted a lounge, dining area, kitchen and playroom that were all open-plan. ‘We decided early on we would separate this off with a sliding barn door,’ Naomi says. ‘The room could feel completely open when the children were playing, but then be totally closed off in the evening.’ The final portal incorporates both an office for their web design company DLZ Design and a snug room. ‘We have also built in a large utility room, which is where we enter the house through the back door,’ Naomi adds. ‘This sits just behind the kitchen.’
Upstairs, the back quarter of the portal houses the master suite, which has an open plan dressing area and bathroom. Each of the three remaining sections contain a bedroom, whilst along the front there’s an additional bedroom, as well as a family bathroom. ‘The upstairs layout ended up being fairly dictated by the positioning of the portals,’ Naomi says. ‘We were a little restricted with the ceiling height. By forming the room divisions where the portals fall it means these beams don’t encroach on the room.’
Naomi and Danny left all the upstairs beams exposed, allowing them to keep the ceilings as high as possible, as well as to maintain the minimal, industrial feel of the property. ‘We could have easily had two more bedrooms upstairs,’ Naomi adds. ‘Instead we opted for a double-height space over the lounge and stairs and a galleried landing.’
Schedule of works
March 17 Works begin, (but stall soon after due to problems with builders).
September 17 Works recommence.
November 17 Additional steel put in place. Original steel sandblasted and painted. Internal breezeblock walls completed.
December 17 First floors laid and roof put on.
January 18 Concrete slab laid and power-floated. Upstairs internal timber walls started.
February 18 Plasterboarding begins and large windows installed.
March 18 Decorators begin work. Kitchen and stairs fitted.
April 18 Move in.
Interiors: dark, minimal, industrial
Naomi and Danny wanted to mirror the industrial exterior of the barn on the inside. The exposed beams and abundance of open-plan space lent itself well to the dark, minimal interior theme the coupe settled on. ‘Going dark with the kitchen was the deciding factor for this, but the biggest feature of our home is probably the dark grey ceilings,’ Naomi says. ‘We have so much light as the open plan space has almost all floor to ceiling windows. It could have felt stark without making this decision.’
Having such a unique interior brief, the couple found it challenging to find furnishings that complimented their theme. They ended up picking several pieces from Maisons du Monde, as well as getting a number of key furnishings made on a bespoke basis.
Lessons from the barn conversion
Other than the stalled beginning of the project, the window installation proved to be the most challenging aspect of their conversion. ‘The window company went bust and left us with poorly installed windows and plenty of missing parts,’ Naomi explains. ‘It was a nightmare trying to find someone to finish the job.’
But what about their biggest achievement? The couple say it was their decision to maximise the insulation in the floors, walls, ceiling and windows. ‘This is our best decision we made,’ Naomi says. ‘It is the end of November and we’ve only had the heating on for two days.’
Naomi and Danny only ever envisaged the barn conversion as a one off chance to build their dream, lifelong home. Whilst they still foresee spending their lives there, they’ve recently begin discussing the possibility of renovating another property in their distinct, minimal style. And for fans of their unique interiors, the good news is they’ve even mooted the possibility of offering their services to transform other people’s homes into industrial masterpieces like their own.
@barnconversionblog – for more stunning snapshots of Naomi’s and Danny’s barn conversion.
dlzdesign.co.uk – for details about the couple’s web design business.