Renovating a converted barn

Richard and Michelle Pope have completed a rural renovation project by adding their own stylish contemporary touches. Their newly-renovated converted barn now includes a mezzanine home office with a spiral staircase

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It was a dark, cold day when Richard and Michelle Pope first came to view their converted barn home, but they didn’t allow the weather to cloud their judgement.

‘As soon as we entered the house, we fell in love with it,’ Richard remembers. ‘It looked so traditional from the outside – but when we walked into the main living area, we realised it was anything but ordinary.’

The couple were particularly impressed original barn opening. They also liked the effortless flow of the property’s interior space and how it was divided into distinct areas, including a guest annexe, plus the two-storey wing to the main house with two spacious bedrooms.

‘We had been living in a more traditional barn conversion and were looking for more space as the twins were getting older. This place ticked all the boxes,’ says Richard.

Fact file

The owners: Michelle Pope, a podiatrist, and her husband Richard, who is a consultant diabetologist, live here with their 10-year-old twins Georgia and Harry

The property had been a working farm until the early 1990s. It was converted into a residential home in 2002 to a design by Shipley architect Adam Clark (

The previous owners had moved out before the renovation work was completed, however, so Richard and Michelle knew they would have to finish it themselves.

‘We moved in straight away and began adapting it to our needs – it still required a lot of work to bring it up to the standard we were aiming for,’ says Richard.

There was only a ladder leading up to the mezzanine from the living area; the kitchen was half-finished and the roof over the dining room was leaking.

‘The garage was in a poor state of repair and needed to be rebuilt,’ says Richard. ‘We also wanted to landscape the garden.’

One of the couple’s first jobs was to make with the two-storey living room with a home office mezzanine, open trusses and the building watertight, but they discovered that the leaking roof wasn’t just caused by a few broken roof slates.

It seemed the edges of two of the four skylights above the dining room were at the root of the problem, so water poured in whenever it rained. ‘We put buckets everywhere to collect the rainwater while we waited for a roofing company to solve it for us,’ says Richard. ‘The roofers tried to fibreglass the junction between the skylights and the roof, but that didn’t work.’

Frustrated, the couple realised that the skylights hadn’t been sealed adequately when they were installed. Richard and Michelle decided to take them all out and brick up the space.

‘It was a shame, because the skylights let so much light in, but it was a less costly solution than starting again and installing new roof windows,’ says Richard.

Once the skylight openings had been filled in and plastered over, the roofers relaid the roof and replaced the broken slates.

The next job was to fit a new kitchen in the open-plan living space. The existing kitchen consisted of a single run of units that had little worktop space for appliances.

‘It didn’t work as a family kitchen, so we shopped around for black units to put along the rear wall that would match the ones already in situ,’ says Richard. ‘It had a hob, sink and fridge, but there still wasn’t enough storage space for us, so we had a new bank of cupboards and worktops fitted, which more than doubled the work space in the kitchen area.’

The couple had part of the island unit dismantled to install a dishwasher, then they hired an electrician to extend the wiring to create more sockets.

Richard and Michelle, meanwhile, used the ladder to access the mezzanine – where Richard based his home office – until they found a spiral staircase that they felt complemented the design of their house.

‘It arrived in kit form from Italy – and we decided to install it ourselves,’ says Richard. ‘It was a steep learning curve. We didn’t have a lot of DIY experience, but we knew we couldn’t bolt the staircase to the floor, because there was water-based underfloor heating underneath. We didn’t want to run the risk of hitting the pipes and then having to take up the floor, so we had to work out a way to secure the staircase from the top.’

Richard learnt how to weld and managed to fix it with brackets to the RSJ holding up the mezzanine. The staircase was assembled piece by piece and secured by being drilled into a metal disc that was fitted to the floor by a single fixing.

‘I was so relieved it worked,’ says Richard. The couple have since pressed on with the remaining renovations, such as rebuilding the garage and installing a shower room for the ground floor master bedroom in the two-storey wing.

They also had to put a new bath in the family bathroom when the original porcelain one collapsed.

‘Michelle was running a bath one day, when she heard a bang – and rushed in to find the bathtub in pieces,’ Richard recalls. ‘We have no idea why.’

They have furnished their new home with a combination of favourite pieces from their old house and some investment items, such as a bespoke dining table.

‘We didn’t want a cluttered look here,’ says Richard. ‘The light and space are the main features of this house, so the furniture is almost incidental. We thought it best to let the property speak for itself.’


Additional land£10,000
Fixtures, fittings and furniture£5,000