While Sophie and George Pound could see the potential in a dilapidated barn surrounded by orchards, farmland and rolling hills, they couldn’t quite have envisaged the contemporary yet cozy interior they now enjoy. And as for the setting… ‘It’s nothing short of amazing,’ says Sophie. ‘Being able to step out of the house and straight into this landscape is a joy. It’s beautiful – the orchards behind the house, the fruit trees in the garden, the vast array of rambling roses the previous owners planted, the fields beyond framing the sunset and rise every day, space to keep chickens; it’s idyllic. We’re so lucky to be living here’.
Inspired to take on a project to create your own dream space, just as Sophie and George have done? We have lots of ideas and helpful advice on what to do in our feature on house renovation. For more real home transformations, head to our hub page.
The owners Sophie Pound, a full-time mum, her husband, George, a property developer, their children, Phoebe and Archie, and Springer Spaniel Dottie
The property A 19th-century barn forming part of a small farm complex in rural East Kent
Project cost £243,750
The Cartlodge, situated on a quiet country lane on the outskirts of a small village, is one of three farm buildings recently renovated by the couple along with George’s brother, Will. The building wasn’t big enough for the family, so they added a large extension at right angles to the barn to house three bedrooms and two bathrooms. In the original barn are the lofty kitchen-diner, utility and cloakroom and double-aspect living room.
‘We could’ve renovated the property and then added the extension at a later date, but it made sense to do it all at once,’ says Sophie. ‘We like the feeling of space the double-height rooms gives us, and the old beams and struts are works of art in themselves. We tried to keep the integrity of the old cart shed – we left some things, like the old saw in the living room, where they were.’ The result is light, bright and cozy – helped by the underfloor heating throughout.
The living space is largely open plan. Bespoke carpentry mirrors the original fabric of the building, which offered up many surprises as the building work commenced. ‘We unearthed loads of farming equipment during the development,’ says Sophie. ‘A fete tractor ride, a lot of galvanized chicken equipment, pitchforks, cherry pickers, huge ladders, lawn tennis nets for the old tennis court, and an old washing mangle… all of these tell a story about the history of the buildings.
'The mangle makes me feel particularly for the women who would have lived here in days gone by, especially now I have two young children! The previous owner was a farmer who was a prominent member of the community, hence the tractor ride for the fetes that used to be held in the garden.’
Sophie says they liked the idea that they were giving the barn a new beginning, which will one day be part of its history for someone else. ‘It’s also an amazing place to raise kids. Phoebe loves being outside and Archie is just starting to follow her around the garden – it’s a near perfect setting for them both to grow up. Climbing trees, eating blackberries – Famous Five, eat your heart out! It’s the exact childhood I dreamt of being able to give them.’
The barn is the couple’s first proper investment together. ‘Before this we’d rented and it was frustrating not to be able to put our stamp on a property,’ says Sophie. ‘George is a bit of a techie, so we have a really useful smart system to control the heating and lighting, which is kind of a contrast to the age and original purpose of the building. We believe it deserves the best, though.'
The couple enjoyed the renovation so much, they’re on to their next one – another farm building in the same development, which they will move into once finished. ‘We’ve learned a lot – not least about managing the work in the most efficient way, and really listening to the building. We feel we’ve got the right balance between old and new, and we’ve rescued an abandoned building that might not have had the chance to be a lively family home.’
Love the idea of taking on your own barn conversion project? Check out our top barn conversion ideas next.
Want even more great ideas for your home from the expert team at Real Homes magazine? Subscribe to Real Homes magazine and get great content delivered straight to your door. From inspiring completed projects to the latest decorating trends and expert advice, you'll find everything you need to create your dream home inside each issue.View Deal