Converting a derelict cattle barn into a kitchen

Lynda and Trevor Gorrells have converted an old barn that adjoined their 18th century farmhouse into a spacious kitchen constructed in oak frame

TODO alt text

‘I come from a generation of farmers and was born and brought up on this farm – my father was born here too, and one of my grandfathers rented a neighbouring farm,’ says Trevor. ‘I bought the farmhouse and the adjoining buildings from the landlord in the mid-1990s as part of a changeover in ownership from my father to me.’

When Trevor married Lynda in the summer of 2011, they decided to make some major changes to the farmhouse – one of which was to design a new kitchen.

‘There hadn’t been a proper kitchen in the farmhouse since I was a boy. My mother had simply managed with a small scullery at the back of the house,’ Trevor recalls.

Fact file

The owners: Lynda and Trevor Gorrells, who are both farmers

When he took over the ownership of the farm he had thought it would be a good idea to convert a large barn adjoining the house into a new kitchen and office space.

‘The barn had been empty for years – it seemed such a shame to waste that space. I knew it would make a brilliant kitchen,’ says Trevor.

‘I can remember when there were cattle inside the barn, which was completely open-ended on one side so that large pieces of farm machinery could be driven in and stored there,’ he adds.

Trevor had plans drawn up for a barn conversion – but they were shelved and he put them off until he met Lynda and they started making plans together.

‘That was when we realised the planning permission was almost out of date, so we had to act fast,’ says Trevor.

The original plans involved a kitchen and office space linked to the farmhouse via a corridor. Trevor, however, changed his mind about dividing it into two spaces.

‘Instead we applied for planning permission to convert another barn into an office so we could keep this barn solely for the new kitchen,’ Trevor explains.

The couple enlisted the help of local architect Paul Scott (paulscottarchitect.co.uk) to revise the original plans and guide them through the planning permission stage.

Although the barn was linked to the farmhouse, there were lots of structural considerations. The main problem was that the floor was on a different level from the rest of the house.

‘This meant we had to incorporate a step down into the kitchen, plus the original floor had to be excavated to create an even floor level,’ Trevor explains.

Trevor dealt with much of the building work and found it useful to refer back to the local authority building control department for advice on how to deal with certain aspects of the work.

‘We really appreciated all their advice and approach to our project,’ he says. ‘I hired a bricklayer, but otherwise I did all the groundwork, flooring, plasterwork, timber frame restoration and lime plastering with help from someone who works for me, plus I made the oak doors myself,’ he adds.

The couple made sure that they employed the right tradespeople for the more challenging aspects of the build. ‘We certainly didn’t have the experience to build an oak frame or a new roof,’ Trevor explains.

A local specialist company, Hobbans Timberworks (hobbanstimberworks.co.uk), built the oak frame and trusses for the barn and installed a large bank of windows along one side of the building. Hobbans also worked closely with the builders who laid the slate roof.

Part of the planning permission criteria had stipulated that oak beams needed to be included in the frame: ‘Some of the beams are actually railway sleepers,’ says Trevor.

It took a year to complete the build project, with Trevor and Lynda living on site while the barn was made watertight and structurally sound.

‘It wasn’t without its problems,’ Trevor admits. ‘Unfortunately for us, when the original roof was removed there was a huge downpour of rain, which soaked through the framework.’

With the build work complete, the couple chose a high-quality bespoke kitchen by Nicholas Anthony Kitchens (nicholas-anthony.co.uk).

‘What I had envisaged when I first planned the barn conversion years ago was a contemporary kitchen in a traditional setting,’ says Trevor. ‘I didn’t want traditional wooden units as I thought there would be enough timber in here already with the oak beams.’

He and Lynda were careful with their choice of flooring – for practical reasons. ‘We didn’t want anything too dark or too light,’ Trevor explains. ‘We chose porcelain tiles that look like they’re made from slate. They have a sort of ‘dusty’ appearance, which is perfect because it helps conceal the dust that is very much part of farm life.‘

As Trevor and Lynda had chosen a kitchen with bold accents of charcoal and burgundy, they decided to keep the wall scheme neutral, with the exposed brickwork creating another feature of the space.

‘We’re thrilled with our new kitchen – it’s the perfect space with its great mix of the contemporary and traditional,’ says Trevor. ‘It’s a far cry from a small scullery and a place for housing cattle and tractors.’

Costs

Kitchen, fittings and appliances£55,000
Oak frames and glass£17,000
Electrics£10,500
Roofing/rooflights£6,500
Labour£6,200
Windows/doors£3,000
Flooring£2,500
Professional fees£2,000
Concrete/ironmongery£1,600
Underfloor heating£1,500
TOTAL£105,800