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This is from the time I lived in Oxford in Oxfordshire, England which is a picturesque university town. “The city of the dreaming spires” as Matthew Arnold had described Oxford; it is not only famous for it’s over 800 years legacy as a home to scholars and royalty but also for its beauty, farmlands and cobbled quaint stone houses.
When travelling in and around Oxford and UK in general, I came upon many houses which were originally either a barn or a chapel. What’s interesting is the conversion of a barn into a house which is quite popular among the locals, and the houses thus made are termed as ‘Barn Conversions’.
As much fascinating it sounds (and indeed it is), it’s not a very easy process to procure permissions for a Barn Conversion. Apart from the permission one needs to go through the General Permitted Development Order, many other approvals are also needed like for transport, noise impact, contamination, flood risk and ‘Whether the location or siting of the building makes it otherwise impractical or undesirable for the building to change from agricultural use to residential use’ etc. And this is only for England\UK. All other countries must be having their own set of rules and permissions to be followed.
Anyways once the entire above process is cleared, comes the best part of the conversion that is actually converting it into your home. So what makes barn conversions different than any other run-of-the-mill house?
Firstly, a barn will most likely be located in the countryside which gives us an advantage of easy living and easy breathing with no pollution around. Growing up and living in a countryside can both be healthy and exhilarating for both the children’s and the grown up’s. Secondly, along with the barn (usually) comes land in acres where one can do as per one’s wish and fancy: from growing organic vegetation to setting up marquees for a party every fortnight or just soaking under the sun with your dog and family.
Lastly and most importantly, the architecture of a barn conversion helps us add various unique design elements to the interior. The exposed beams in the arched ceilings and large living spaces are to die for. Most likely the finished property will also be having areas linked by glass and wooden doors with mezzanine levels and low balconies that can add an air of grandeur and royalty to the house.
Interiors also play a very important role in decorating a barn conversion. Its always good to create different zones as per one’s liking like a drawing room, a formal living room, a study, a relaxation room or a game room (as the space inside a Barn Conversion is usually huge). One can also have two types of eating area: one adjoining to the kitchen can be used for an everyday eating and a formal dining room for a more elaborate affair.
The furniture can also be bought as per the owner’s taste, but the rustic and comfortable looking couch or the rocking chair would suit the ambience better. But then again there’s no rule that says you have to choose the country style taste. You can always opt for modern decorating ideas which will complement the exposed wooden beams and rustic charm of a bran conversion. Polished wooden flooring combined with striking chandeliers and French windows will make your home look a grand dichotomy of rustic and contemporary. Another common feature of a barn conversion is a lot of bi-folding, sliding doors which open to a garden which makes the outdoor a part of the indoor. So one has to choose their outdoor furniture very smartly as it will be a part of the overall room design.
Last but not the least, add a lot of personal photo frames, table lamps and books to give the house a cozy and personal feel.
SOUL Tip: Never change the exposed ceiling wooden beams and always have one or more grand fire places in the barn conversion. For your furniture and furnishings you can play with different colors like hues of greens, yellows, whites and blues.
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