Real home: a Cotswold barn conversion with beautiful vintage-style interiors

Filled with French antiques and fleamarket finds, this converted barn in the heart of the Cotswolds is a vintage-lovers dream

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(Image credit: Colin Poole)
The Story

Owners: Kate and Paul Gerrish live here with Jack Russells Charlie and Coco. With her daughter Isobel, Kate runs Bliss, a home and vintage shop. Paul is now retired and the couple’s four children no longer live at home
Property: Built in 1850 and originally used as cowsheds, the barn in the heart of the Oxfordshire countryside was converted into a dwelling in the late 1990s
What they did: Kate and Paul decorated throughout and installed a new hand-built kitchen, along with a cloakroom, bathroom and shower rooms

A desire for beautiful views across open countryside and a longing to live in a period property were what sealed the deal for Kate and Paul Gerrish when they found their ideal rural retreat: this converted barn in the middle of a tranquil farming hamlet, within the scenic Oxfordshire countryside. 

‘The children had left home so we took the opportunity to downsize, selling our three-storey, six-bedroom modern house in a nearby town,’ says Kate. ‘The children had left home so we took the opportunity to downsize, selling our three-storey, six-bedroom modern house in a nearby town,’ says Kate.

Find out more about barn conversions in our guide. For more Cotswold renovations and other home inspirations see our other real home transformations...

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The rich blue velvet sofa from Sofas & Stuff takes centre stage in the sitting room, complementing Kate’s favourite piece of furniture: a pale blue sideboard from Station Mill

(Image credit: Colin Poole)

 

The  Grade II-listed building dates from the 1850s, and was converted in the late 1990s into a characterful home. ‘We knew the area and had always liked the peaceful location,’ says Kate. The house was empty when the couple viewed the property, which gave them ample time to decide that they could make it their home. The kitchen and bathrooms were fitted with good quality cabinets and sanitaryware, but the style was rather dated.

‘Our plans for the kitchen included simple, traditionally built cupboards, leaving space for a dining table and seating,’ she says. With plenty of ideas and colour combinations in mind, Kate and Paul set about their first project, and enlisted local company Hunt Bespoke Kitchens and Interiors.  

gerrish barn conversion country living room

A neutral palette in the vaulted living room creates a relaxed atmosphere. An ornate French overmantle mirror from The Old Pill Factory acts as a focal point to the room, above a Dimplex stove. The map design fabric on the armchair, from Just Fabrics, is the perfect choice for this well-travelled couple

 ‘Handmade cabinets were designed and painted to give a freestanding, country style, and the finished look is just what I was hoping for,’  says Kate. ‘In fact, I was so happy with the kitchen that I asked them to transform a cramped shower room into a smart cloakroom, which looks great!’ 

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The handmade wooden cupboards are by Hunts Bespoke Kitchens and Interiors. Working closely with the designers, Kate chose a simple, country-style design, painted in the pleasing tones of Leather 4 and 5 from Paint & Paper Library, and Hague Blue from Farrow & Ball. The blind fabric is Sanderson’s Tally Ho design

(Image credit: Colin Poole)

A rustic farmhouse dining table and painted bench have been teamed with a patchwork of vintage-inspired tiles above the range cooker. ‘They were handmade by a Cornish company recommended by the kitchen designers, called Welbeck, and I am thrilled with them,’ says Kate. ‘I handpicked each one and was so pleased with the nostalgic pretty look, that I decided to use them in three more rooms.’  

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A pink Rangemaster cooker is teamed with a splashback tiles from Welbeck bringing a distinctively feminine and nostalgic feel

(Image credit: Colin Poole)

At the heart of the home is the living room,  with its vaulted ceiling and a stylish combination of plush velvet sofas and French antiques. ‘I opened a small unit in a local antiques centre eight years ago, and built up a good customer base,’ explains Kate.

The guest studio in the garden is furnished with a mix of antique and vintage furniture in white to contrast with the rustic stone walls. The mirrored armoire is from Burford Antiques, and the armchair is from Bliss. Floral bedlinen by Cabbages & Roses suits the garden theme

(Image credit: Colin Poole)

‘So in November 2015 I opened my own interiors shop in Chipping Norton, with Isobel, my youngest daughter and business partner. We sell a selection of French homeware, vintage furniture, contemporary accessories and paint – all my favourite things - and I tend to try out things here first.’ 

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(Image credit: Colin Poole)

With their new home to furnish and the shop to stock up, Kate and Paul embarked on a series of buying trips, sourcing furniture and accessories along their way. ‘We have a house in France and visit as often as we can,’ says Kate. ‘Buying from French markets is very exciting – we go to as many as possible, always searching for that special find.’

country bedroom toile headboard

A combination of grey and sepia tones, with soft off-whites, creates a sophisticated scheme in the master bedroom. The French-style bed has been beautifully upholstered in Normandie, a toile de Jouy fabric in muted grey/lilac cotton by Annie Sloan, from Bliss. The bedside cabinets are from Scumblegoosie

In between trips the couple have transformed the barn’s interiors, updating and decorating with a soft palette to create the perfect backdrop for their furniture and treasured possessions. ‘I chose Old White by Annie Sloan for the walls and added colour with furniture and textiles,’ says Kate. ‘I enjoy painting vintage pieces. Giving them a new lease of life is very satisfying, and chalk paint comes in gorgeous colours with a lovely matt finish.’ 

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Extremely pleased with the finish in her kitchen, Kate asked the team at Hunt Bespoke Kitchens and Interiors to transform the cloakroom

(Image credit: Colin Poole)
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The barn now has a pleasing spacious quality, enhanced by Kate’s blend of furniture, art and accessories.

‘We are fortunate to have several really good places for vintage furniture and homeware nearby. I have bought many items from The Old Pill Factory in Witney and from Station Mill,’ she adds. ‘I like to combine different styles, as I think it creates a more interesting interior.’

As well as the main barn there’s a small garden building. ‘One of the main attractions for us was the mini cottage at the bottom of the garden,’ says Kate.

‘It’s now a spacious guest bedroom, with an en-suite shower room and a study. Friends and family love it and always comment on the serene atmosphere and restful stay they’ve had.’ 

Kate and Paul are now working on the garden itself. ‘We decided to improve the layout by removing some of the older shrubs and hedging, and introduce a new planting scheme in pastel shades,’ explains Kate. 

‘It’s made a huge difference and looks much more spacious and very pretty. We enjoy family gatherings, and the children are regular visitors along with Lottie, our five-year-old granddaughter. Just like us, they all enjoy spending time in this tranquil home in the country.’

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Simple posies of garden flowers work just as well against the barn’s exposed stone walls as they do in the freshly painted spaces
(Image credit: Colin Poole)

exterior barn conversion

Kate and Paul are now working on the garden. ‘We decided to improve the layout by removing some of the older shrubs and hedging, and introduce a new planting scheme in pastel shades,’ explains Kate
(Image credit: Colin Poole)