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There is something about derelict farm buildings which makes for interesting conversions, whether it is the randomly placed windows and doors, derived from necessity when it was used as a cow shed, or perhaps it is the character and solidity of the stone walls. I can’t quite put my finger on it.
Whatever it is, the thing with steading conversions is that they are actually pretty difficult to pull off without having to compromise at some stage along the way. The span of the roof tends to be quite narrow, the walls are quite often built without ‘foundations’ and damp-proofing is non-existent.
Clients have to suspend their ideas of what would make a perfect ‘new-build’ house to work alongside the existing structure. Dividing a narrow space with partitions and walls to create traditional rooms is not always the most successful way of working with the existing space and the usual result is a long narrow corridor along one side flanked by bedrooms on the other.
To our eye, the space afforded by a steading or barn provides for some interesting opportunities for open plan living; individual elements such as kitchens and bathrooms can be placed freely within the space creating circulation routes to either side. Allowing the space to remain as one means that the occupier sees all the space and does not feel hemmed in.
Another trick which can help divide the space without disrupting it is to use moveable partitions, either sliding doors or folding screens. Space can be vast and airy during the day but is easily transformed to something more homely when needed.
If you have a project which involves a steading conversion that you would like to talk to us about, feel free to give us a call. We love old buildings and having a chance to poke around them is one of our favourite things so we’d love to hear from you.