Contemporary conversion of a stone barn

Artist Heather Nevay and structural engineer John Burke took their time on this barn conversion, turning it into a stylish, modern country retreat

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Heather Nevay and John Burke had been looking for both a project and a lifestyle change when they decided to take on the conversion of a cow byre, a small, dilapidated cottage, and 1.5 acres of woodland in Argyll. At the time, the couple were living in a Victorian flat in Glasgow. ‘A lot of our friends have children,’ says Heather. ‘We’d chosen not to, but we still wanted a change of pace. Coming to this stunning location was exactly what we needed. It is secluded but we do have a couple of close neighbours, so it’s a nice balance.’

Heather and John had such clear ideas about the conversion from the outset and they felt there was no need to commission an architect since John was a structural engineer. The original building had three chambers, all on different levels, and while Heather wanted a fluid, open-plan space, she thought keeping the split levels would add definition and interest.

One of the original chambers now houses the kitchen while the other two are guest bedrooms. The upper floor, which comprises the master bedroom, en suite and Heather’s studio, and the downstairs living and dining areas, where the couple have merged the woodland vistas with the interior through huge picture windows, are new additions.

The owners

Heather Nevay, a figurative painter at, lives here with her partner John Burke, a structural engineer

The property

A stone barn conversion with three bedrooms in Argyll, west Scotland

Project cost

The total project cost was £261,000 including landscaping and external work

stone barn conversion open plan kitchen area

High-gloss white cupboards enhance the space, with made-to-order black resin worktops and neutral screed flooring from Kasra Chem. Appleby units, Cooke & Lewis at B&Q. Sisal rugs, Ikea. Stools, Furniture in Fashion. For a similar pendant light, try Davey Lighting

before the stone bar convresion

Originally used to shelter cows, the building was set in a magnificent spot in Argyll, with a backdrop of fields and woodland

Stone barn conversion exterior transformation

The byre conversion took six years of hard work by Heather and John, who went for the best finishes they could afford. The windows are all from Austrian company Internorm, and the solar panels from German firm Wagner

Open plan kitchen-diner and living area in a stone barn conversion

The elevated dining area features a Denelli glass-topped table and leather chairs. The pendant lights came from a Glasgow salvage yard; for similar, try Trainspotters

open-plan multi-level living area in a stone barn conversion

Modern furniture in the extension sits well against the backdrop of the woods, and the fabric of the old building. The sheep are by Borders-based sculptor Angela Hunter, and the painting by Glaswegian artist Dougie Thomson.

art studio in a stone barn conversion

For the upstairs art studio, a spongy, high-gloss white resin floor, also by Kasra Chem, helps to maximise the light. Glazed doors lead to a roof terrace.

Glazed walls seperating rooms in this stone barn conversion

When four windows were delivered in the wrong size, Heather decided to use them as internal walls, separating the bathrooms from bedrooms, or, in this case, the hall – a film has been applied for privacy. Bath, Cooke & Lewis at B&Q. Black ceramic wall tiles, Topps Tiles

plant filled bathroom in a stone barn conversion

Heather bought the low bench from a sale of fixtures and fittings at Galletly & Tubbs. All sanitaryware, Cooke & Lewis at B&Q. Black wall tiles, Topps Tiles. Lime bath mat, TK Maxx

colourful master suite in a stone barn conversion

Right A feature mirror on the front of the wardrobe creates a focal point in the bedroom. The sofa came from a skip and has been reupholstered in fabric from Cotton Print Factory

guest bedroom in a stone barn conversion

Sunpipes and a picture window in the downstairs bedroom make it light enough to carry dark, dramatic furnishings like the Four-poster bed from The Store