Snug living

PUBLISHED: 09:00 19 March 2014


It was more than seven years in the making, but ‘The Cowshed’ at St Columb Major has become a beautiful family home packed into the original 150sq metre barn

Boasting two bedrooms, an open-plan living area and mezzanine floor hiding away a snug, the Wraing family have finally moved into their 19th century barn conversion with a difference.

David and wife Sarah once owned Hill Head Farm on which the barn once sat, and had long range plans for the dilapidated building. So when they sold the farm, they held onto the building and three-quarters of an acre surrounding it with a view to converting it. But then they hit a snag. Although the barn carried planning permission to convert to a holiday let, it took seven years to get permission to create a permanent family home - and the family moved in last August.

The 150square metres may seem compact, but the space inside feels anything but small. The front door opens on to a full height open plan living area and kitchen, with a grand dining space. The ground floor also incorporates two bedrooms, including a master bedroom with en suite and walk-in closet. Above the main living area, some of the roof space has been closed off to create a clever mezzanine floor where a snug/office/spare bedroom sits. “St Columb is an old traditional Cornish farming community,” says owner David, who project managed the conversion - and as a qualified plumber and electrician carried out much of the work himself.

Once planning permission was given, they began work on the house, completing it within six months. “We started off with a lookbook, with all the things we liked, and then looked at what we could do. One of the first things I did was get a lighting designer in, as light in these buildings can be really tricky and they created some lovely little elements that highlight all the best bits of the building. People often leave the lighting element of the build until the last moment, but I’ve learned to think about that right at the beginning.”

From the outside, the building is clad in cedar shingle and natural slate and is designed to blend with its environment. “People can drive by and not even see it,” says David. “But when people come and visit they say ‘wow’. It’s really gratifying.”

And the building uses the latest in eco-technology: the windows are triple glazed, there is underfloor heating (‘Yum, no slippers,’ jokes David) and an Airsource heat pump which acts like ‘a fridge in reverse,’ he says. The loos, washing machine and outside tap are all supplied by a clever rain harvesting system.

“Out of 150sq metres we have made a comfortable living area - I think this is the future of buildings - they cost a lot less to heat and use less energy and are easier to maintain.”

David has now been invited to speak at the National Self Build and Renovation show in February to share his experience. He admits that despite the seven-year wrangle with planners - and his 18-hour days in getting the work finished, he is raring to go again. “We want to do it again,” he admits. “Without a doubt, this is now our chosen path.”

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