Barn’s special magic

Sharon Chilcott visits a 400-year-old barn which weaves a spell with its careful detailing and ‘masterful’ master suite.

Sharon Chilcott

This was the conversion that finally converted Janet Dennis to her husband’s way of thinking – never a fan of the idea of living in a renovated farmyard complex, she had tended to dismiss the idea of barns entirely.

“This was the one that changed my mind,” she says. “Mike had always wanted a barn. I never had as they are often close together in complexes. We came down here for a holiday and saw the advert in the local paper. When we came down the long drive and through the gate into the courtyard I said, if I am going to live in a barn, this is looking promising! From there on, it just got better. The kitchen is fabulous, there are rural views from every window and when we walked into the master bedroom, I just turned to Mike and said, that’s it, this is the one. We hadn’t really intended to buy in this area – it was just the right property.”

The Barn, Gamberhead Farm is set in a spread-out scattering of renovated farm buildings near the Herefordshire village of Wormelow, with its thriving village shop and post office. It’s approached along a dedicated, private drive which leads past an orchard which the couple have had planted with apple, pear and plum trees. When they first viewed it nine years ago, the 400-year-old stone barn had been newly converted to a high standard, with extensive use of oak for the ledge and brace doors and surrounds, bespoke staircase and galleried landing and for the impressive, solid wood kitchen, which is finished off with granite worktops. “I love this kitchen because it is so well designed,” says Janet. “It just works. Everything is built in and it’s got lots of space to walk all around it. Mike can make a cup of tea and I can be making pastry and we are not falling over one another. The ‘prep’ island in the middle is brilliant. When our grandchildren come and we harvest the apples we stand all around it to make apple pies.”

The imaginative design cleverly blends the old and the new. Features like the upstairs arrow slit windows are reminders of the barn’s heritage. All the upstairs rooms are open to the restored, oak-beamed eaves and beamed ceilings and flagstone flooring throughout the downstairs give a rustic flavour. Yet, overall, the accommodation has a contemporary feel, is well-planned and practical and includes some inspired features – like the half-landing and galleried landing which make the most of the rural outlook and the masterful master suite which, for Janet, was this barn’s key selling point. Janet has kept the furnishings simple and colour co-ordinated, incorporating quality oak furniture and bespoke sofas and chairs, in mix-and-match colours. “That way I can swop things around,” she says. It’s a natural response to the flexibility of the space in this barn. Currently, the couple have a dining area downstairs and a sitting area on the gallery landing, but it would work equally well the other way round.

Natural light floods into the downstairs dining area from the glazed entrance door and floor-to-ceiling glazed windows at the front of the property and the full-height windows at the back. Open plan to the kitchen, it makes a wonderful entertaining space. “You can sit at the table and look straight out at the garden and views.” says Mike.
Leading off the dining area, along a corridor past the downstairs cloakroom and utility room, is a drawing room which is equally bathed in natural light from double glazed doors and side panels which look out over the paved garden terrace. When Janet and Mike moved in, the expanse of land at the back of the house was a field almost waist high in grass. Janet called on Alex Graham-Cameron (Demeter Designs), a garden designer she had previously used, who came down from Lincolnshire to help her transform it into a neatly-laid out lawn, with specimen trees, planted borders, box hedges and a circular maze of clipped yew and box hedging, which discretely disguises the property’s private treatment plant. In front of the barn, there’s a gravelled parking area with a three-bay carport and storage area alongside and there is also a useful outside storage shed.

Set in the grounds there’s a summerhouse with a decked terrace for relaxing and opening from the dining area another area of raised decking creates a convenient place for entertaining. A flagstone terrace along the front of property is another lovely place to sit and enjoy the surroundings. Rural views can be enjoyed from the half-landing on the open tread staircase and further up, on the galleried landing, the couple have created a cosy seating area, looking out over the garden through the full height windows, which have electric blinds for shade on sunny days.
To one side of the landing are two guest bedrooms, full of character, with exposed beams and arrow slit windows (complemented by added skylight windows). A roof ladder from one of the bedrooms leads to an attic playroom. “It was wasted space so we had it carpeted. Mike likes doing puzzles, which he can keep out up there and our grandchildren love to use it as a hideaway,” says Janet.

Across the galleried landing is a family bathroom and opposite this, the smallest guest bedroom has been fitted out as a dressing room. Janet had the dressing table and cupboards tailor made to fit the space. “I didn’t want modern units; I wanted something in keeping with the property so we had them all hand made in a rustic design. But, these could all come out if someone wanted to turn this back into a bedroom,” she adds.
And finally, to the wow factor, the master bedroom. With windows all along the end, stretching to the eaves, it gives views to the gardens and, at night, the stars. Janet has placed two club chairs to take advantage of the outlook and when their grandchildren come to stay, the couple use it as a space to relax and escape.

Janet chose a really pretty fabric for the bed cover, with raised red roses on it, and the soft furnishings and bedside lamps are co-ordinated to match. The master bedroom has a stylish en-suite shower room in one corner and set into the eaves is an attractively-designed mezzanine, which the couple use for extra storage. They ended up in Herefordshire by accident but Janet and Mike soon fell in love with their home here and had originally intended it for their retirement. Now, family ties are pulling them back to Lincolnshire. “We love the area; when we come here we always feel as if we are on holiday, it is so relaxing,” says Janet. “I will so miss it.”

Get the Lifestyle

The Barn, Gamberhead Farm, Wormelow is on the market for £699,000 with Parrys Fine and Country,
52 Broad Street, Ross on Wye,  01989 764132,

Get the Look

The bed in the master bedroom is from
Simply Stunning, The Park, Wormelow, 01981 541144,

The stylish drawer units for the mezzanine above the master bedroom were hand made by
Onnen Furniture, Monmouth, 07957 136093.

Janet couldn’t resist this glass dish from
La Piazza, 76 Monnow Street, 01600 716831,