Extended barn conversion

Using their interior design skills, Richard Bond and Jamie Hempsall turned a garage into stylish living space and added a new link extension

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A refurbishment project wasn’t originally on the agenda for Richard Bond and Jamie Hempsall when they bought a traditional barn conversion in the heart of Nottingham’s conservation area.

‘We’d renovated three period properties in a row, and I didn’t want to get involved with a fourth project,’ Richard recalls. ‘However, once we started living in the house it soon became clear that it wasn’t right for our lifestyle. We love entertaining friends plus we need plenty of space for our dogs to play in. The interior and layout had to be changed.’

Richard and Jamie spent the next 18 months remodelling the interior of the barn. The original entrance to the property led into a utility room, with the kitchen located beyond.

Fact file

The owners: Richard Bond and Jamie Hempsall, who are interior designers

‘It was a bizarre and unwelcoming arrangement,’ Richard explains. ‘The kitchen was a good size, with a raised platform to the left for a dining table, but as Jamie is over six foot tall and the ceiling wasn’t very high we could never make effective use of that space.’

The couple had the raised platform dug out to create a level floor, allowing the space to be utilised. They removed the door to the kitchen and had the dated utility room/entrance demolished. They then started making plans to update the kitchen.

‘The kitchen was a fitted, traditional style but we wanted a rustic look, with classic freestanding furniture,’ says Richard. ‘While we were in Yorkshire visiting friends, they recommended a local shop that specialised in reclaimed pine furniture. We loved the furniture. They could make anything to our specifications, which gave us the chance for an entirely bespoke look, so we ordered our kitchen from them.’ A small hallway leading off the kitchen into the dining room has remained structurally unchanged, although Richard and Jamie refurbished it with a mix of eclectic pieces and sumptuous fabrics.

‘Our style has evolved over the years and is contemporary classic,’ says Richard. ‘We don’t believe in rushing out and buying everything on our shopping list. We wait until we’ve found the pieces we want, which means we don’t have to compromise.’

Adjacent to the dining room is a snug with a fireplace and several cosy chairs. ‘This is our TV room, where we enjoy relaxing in winter. There wasn’t a fireplace here so we knocked through a wall, which revealed the original beams, and had a chimney built for the fire,’ says Richard.

From the snug, a door leads into the conservatory, which remains unchanged. A downstairs cloakroom and the lobby, which are accessed from the inner hallway, are also the same structurally. A storecupboard, however, has been cleverly turned into a ground floor study.

There were four bedrooms on the first floor, but Richard and Jamie decided to knock through one of them to create a larger en suite for the master bedroom. ‘Our bedroom had only a small en suite, and the main bathroom was at the opposite end of the corridor, so we decided to lose the third bedroom,’ Richard explains. ‘By doing this, we created a generous 5.2x3m space for the master en suite.’ Once the build work was complete on the master en suite, they updated the entire first floor, redecorating the master bedroom and guest bedrooms and refitting the bathroom.

That wasn’t the end of the refurbishment project, however. Although the interior schemes had been transformed, the couple felt they hadn’t achieved the ideal layout, so they eventually began work on a new phase of the redesign. ‘Once we had lived in the barn for six more months, Jamie and I realised that we weren’t really taking advantage of its fantastic rural views,’ says Richard. ‘The house also lacked the large entertaining space that we had originally planned.’ Richard and Jamie turned their attention to a detached garage unit with offices and a workshop adjacent to the barn.

‘We hired Williams-Architects to draw up plans to add a 15ft extension to the building and create a walk-through structure to allow access from the barn to the old garage,’ says Richard.

This link extension required planning permission, and the planners voiced concerns about the glass-to-wall ratio that was originally proposed.

‘We compromised by installing a series of windows and large doors, rather than a sheet glass wall,’ says Richard. ‘It was essential to our vision to have light flooding through the new space, as well as views across the countryside.’ Keenly aware of the barn’s location in a conservation area, Richard and Jamie liaised with the planners and Building Regulations department to ensure the exterior of the building was sympathetic in style.

‘Our builder sourced reclaimed bricks to match the original brickwork as much as possible, and he reflected details from the barn in the extension,’ says Richard.

The new walk-through extension from the barn to the former garage is accessed through an open doorway, where the old utility room used to be. This leads through the long hallway, which accommodates the new and less obtrusive laundry and dog-friendly area that opens up to the new living space.

‘We were designing with our guests in mind, and decided to add a bathroom off the living area,’ says Richard. ‘We included a steam room shower – although there was a hiccup with the installation.’ When the shower was fitted, there was a gap between the top of the shower unit and the ceiling, because it had been measured incorrectly. The builders resolved it by creating a lowered ceiling structure, which houses the lighting and works as a design feature in the bathroom.

The extended former garage is now a large home office with a guest bedroom. There is also a mezzanine floor area for reading and relaxing. Progress was delayed towards the end of the project, however, when a vital document was mislaid. The planners suggested that the newly installed drains and oil tank would have to be dug up.

‘Luckily, the paper trail proved we had gone through the right channels to get approval for the drainage system,’ Richard recalls. ‘Although we couldn’t find the signed-off document, the planners said we could proceed. It was a stressful time.’ The seven-month build mostly ran smoothly, which Richard attributes to critical planning before work started.

‘We scheduled the build from April to October to avoid the winter weather. Our budget was agreed in advance with the builder, who worked to quotation and not estimate, which was key to controlling our building costs,’ Richard explains.

The couple lived on site throughout the build and managed to remain positive, with all the noise, dust and stress on a daily basis. They were relieved when the refurbishment project was complete – and are thrilled with the results.

‘We’ve found it immensely satisfying to create something that is entirely personal to us,’ says Richard. ‘It’s always uplifting to walk along the path and through the front door into our wonderful new home.’


Building work£60,000
Decorating and lighting£12,000