When the Flynn family decided to extend their home, a decision was reached to use the old barn next door and a novel solution was found when it came to creating a new bedroom in former loft space.
Zoe Flynn explained:
“We moved to our small country farmhouse seven years ago with the intention of renovating and extending it. To begin with, the idea was to build on out at the back, creating a large, glass extension that would house a massive kitchen and family area.After a while, however, we realised we could actually do with another bedroom and bathroom too. We could not add a two-storey extension on to the back of the farmhouse for planning reasons – and we were also unsure of how we could make it work from an aesthetic point of view, so we started to look at other options.
A barn conversion
After several consultations with architects, a decision was taken to convert the barn next to the farmhouse and to bring it into the main home. The structure was there and had been used for little more than storage so it seemed a good option.
Initially, the plan was to create a huge kitchen and living area in the front part of the barn and to make a bedroom and bathroom at the back. It seemed the logical way of doing it but I was not overly keen on having it all on the same level. The new bedroom and en suite bathroom would be our room, and I felt I wanted to be able to escape from the hullabaloo of family life whenever I chose, without people being able to wander in and out all the time, simply because it was right next to the living area!
Using the loft space
We then started discussing the possibility of adding an extra floor to the barn. Until that moment, the plan had been to completely remove the existing loft area of the barn and to open the space right up to the rafters.The barn, therefore, certainly had the height for the extra floor, but we were also aware that adding it would darken the family area below - we would lose light and the wonderful space of the vaulted ceiling.
Suspending the room
Then our architect came up with the great idea of suspending the bedroom and bathroom. Basically this would mean creating a staircase at the back of the barn space. The bathroom would then be suspended to one side of the top of it and the bedroom to the other – and there would be a walkway between them. This solution would mean that elsewhere in the barn we would be able to keep the kitchen and living space open right up to the roof. The bedroom and the bathroom would be fairly high but they would also be well away from the chaos of family life.
Up in the air
Work began and clever designs were drawn up. Calculations were also made to ensure the structure of the building would support the suspension. It was very strange watching the project come to fruition. Expected work had to take place in converting the barn itself – new floors, insulation, interior walls, plumbing and electrics etc – but then these two completely new spaces also started to emerge up in the air!
Skylight windows were installed in both the bathroom and the bedroom, and the walkway was made out of glass to keep the interior space as bright as possible. About a year after work first began, we were able to move in. To start with it did feel strange sleeping in a room that was effectively hanging above the kitchen but now we no longer notice it. The conversion and the bedroom have given us all the extra space we needed, and we are very pleased with our new home.