A Beautifully Renovated Barn House Reveals Rustic Roots in South East England

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By Michele Koh Morollo
A modern facelift highlights the heritage of a renovated barn house in the UK.

Set within the greenbelt and conservation area of Beaconsfield Old Town in the county of Buckinghamshire in South East England, The Great Barn is a heritage family home that Gresford Architects restored and redesigned to better suit the lifestyle of its owners whose children have left the nest. Once an old barn, the building was converted into a house by property developers in 1997. Since then, the owners have made a number of sympathetic alterations and additions to the building.

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The exterior of The Great Barn.

The exterior of The Great Barn.

Gresford Architects restored the existing wooden beams.

Gresford Architects restored the existing wooden beams.

Unfortunately, the 1997 conversion and subsequent changes resulted in the loss of many of the property’s original barn-like qualities. So the owners hired London-based Gresford Architects to renovate the house with goal of restoring its original barn-like character. 

The kitchen features new skylights and a large window in the north elevation to improve light flow into the lofty interiors.

The kitchen features new skylights and a large window in the north elevation to improve light flow into the lofty interiors.


The owners also sought to reorganize the living spaces to better accommodate their new empty-nester lifestyle. 

A crisp palette of light neutral colors conveys a clean, contemporary, and serene vibe within the open-plan common areas. 

A crisp palette of light neutral colors conveys a clean, contemporary, and serene vibe within the open-plan common areas. 

The Gresford team stripped away many of the alterations that were made during the 1990s. Thankfully, the original timber structure was still structurally sound. The team used this existing element to frame the home in a way that enhanced the historic essence of the building. 

The warm, rustic, original timber frame provides wonderful contrast to these cool, muted shades.

The warm, rustic, original timber frame provides wonderful contrast to these cool, muted shades.

A streamlined, modern kitchen with shiplap joinery.

A streamlined, modern kitchen with shiplap joinery.

Gresford Architects opened up the kitchen to the roof space above (which previously contained a bedroom), and introduced shiplap joinery to connect the home to its historic roots. 

 The steel balustrade of the staircase complements the industrial-style Crittall windows used throughout the house. 

 The steel balustrade of the staircase complements the industrial-style Crittall windows used throughout the house. 

In the east elevation, a large glass sliding door frames views of the stunning garden and the home's red brick and dark timber exterior.

A living lounge with a wood-burning fireplace.

A living lounge with a wood-burning fireplace.

A new, bespoke staircase and study area separates the open dining and kitchen space from the main living lounge at the southern end of the house. In this space, a low ceiling, an exposed log-burning fireplace, and warm neutral shades create a cozy, farmhouse feel. 

This exposed log-burning fireplace appears as if it has been carved out of the chimney breast.

This exposed log-burning fireplace appears as if it has been carved out of the chimney breast.

The architects completely altered the west wing of the house, converting a redundant bedroom on the ground floor into a cozy den with a vaulted roof and timber-paneled walls. 

Wooden sliding doors recall barn and farmhouse aesthetics.

Wooden sliding doors recall barn and farmhouse aesthetics.

Concealed within one of the timber-paneled walls is a private staircase that ascends to an attic that now serves as a guest bedroom and bathroom.

A staircase leads up to three bedrooms with ensuite baths and exposed timber wall and ceiling beams. 

A staircase leads up to three bedrooms with ensuite baths and exposed timber wall and ceiling beams. 

"This project enables the past, present and future to coexist under one roof and has truly fulfilled the clients’ desire for a more comfortable, practical family home," says Gresford Architects’ founder Tom Gresford. 

Project credits: 

Architecture: Gresford Architects 

Interior design: Kate Johnstone of Full Circle Interiors

Structural engineering: Sinclair Johnston and Partners Limited

Builder: Bow Tie Construction

Photography: Quintin Lake