Castle remnants make a home
PUBLISHED: 15:23 14 August 2012 | UPDATED: 21:44 20 February 2013
Stones in an old barn in Kenilworth could have come from the castle and are now a feature in a beautiful garden reports Victoria Jenkins
In 2004 Steve Collier bought a farmhouse and 30 acres in Kenilworth. A few years later he decided to dismantle two of the three enormous modern barns that came with it as he did not need them. But when he inspected the third barn more closely he really liked the look of the 35-metre-long, rosy brick wall which formed one side of it.
It looked much older than the rest of the barn structure, which was modern. The wall could be 200 years old at least, he says.
Because of this beautiful old feature Steve decided to keep the barn, in fact, convert it into both a home and a work place for himself as he has his own web design company. He well remembers sitting on a large stone in a sea of mud in the middle of the barn planning how the new live-work space would look. That stone, by the way, formed part of the flooring of the barn and we think from the look of it that it may have originally come from nearby Kenilworth Castle, he says. Now those stones have been relaid on the terrace outside.
With the help of architect Richard Noonan, of Leamington Spa, Steve received planning permission from Warwick District Council to create a steel-framed structure within the existing barn which covers some 10,000 sq. ft. The whole project took 18 months in all during which time Steve lived on-site.
The two original big barn doors and the air vents (which look like arrow slits) have all been glazed to let in as much natural light as possible and where there were two small doors at the west end the architect was permitted to turn these into a pair of tall windows, designed to look like open stable doors. At the end of the day the golden light from the sunset just floods in through them, says Steve. The frames for all the openings were made by MG Joinery of Coventry.
Sixty per cent of the build is allotted to my business on one side of the barn and the rest makes up my four bedroom living accommodation on the other, he says.
Most of the ground floor of the living side is open-plan and separated into kitchen, dining and sitting zones with split-level oak flooring from Floors To Go of Solihull. Above are the bedrooms plus a bath and a shower room and both floors have been equipped with oil-fired underfloor heating.
Because my living area has a double height ceiling I had a gallery incorporated into the design to enhance and highlight the sensation of the space above, says Steve.
The most striking area is the kitchen. Steve wanted a circular kitchen and he found one by Schmidt from a company based in Sutton Coldfield. This circle of storage cabinets includes a hob and extractor fan as well as a pull-out rubbish drawer and dishwasher while a bank of cupboards and Miele ovens and other Miele appliances takes up part of the exterior wall behind.
I travel a great deal to Barcelona and I have been influenced by the design over there, possibly even by Gaudi the world-famous architect who designed so many of the citys architecture including the cathedral, he says.
Steve certainly has some very striking features in his home such as the PURE bio-gel fireplace, the enormous curved Italian sofa by Denelli and the huge 1960s-style Arco light arching over the white sideboard designed by Lyndon Jeremiah of Leamington Spa. There is also a stunning suspended Focus Gyro fireplace which can be turned in whichever direction is needed and three large 1960s wall lights which came from an Italian factory. Not to mention the oak dining table which slides back to reveal a pool table (made by Birmingham Billiards) and the Perspex panels with lights behind, designed to conceal the steel columns of the new-build framework.
I suppose the interior has a London loft feeling but I have softened it by introducing curves and circles into the design, he says. The kitchen work-area is circular, there are three very large ball-shaped lights by Ikon of Solihull in the sitting area, the Focus Gyro fireplace is curved and the Italian sofa describes almost a semi-circle while outside there are three concrete circles set into the shingle of the terrace.
Another circular item is his massive telescope for not only does every window give panoramic views of unspoiled countryside but with no light pollution the stars can clearly be seen. Upstairs are a bathroom and a shower room both fitted with furniture from Bathstore and with travertine tiling from Floors To Go.
On this side of the barn Steve had the walls painted with natural earth tones by Dulux, such as greens and cappuccino shades to match the countryside while on the work side of the building he had the walls spray-plastered, the plaster infused with paint which precluded the need for initial decorating, Outside he had an old and very long hay trough re-rendered to create another beautiful feature and planted some trees for a softening effect.
But after all that hard work Steve has now decided he would like another project so has put Kestrels Barn up for sale and leave someone else to enjoy its splendour. His final thoughts? It will be nice to leave the barn for another person to put their stamp on it and perhaps improve it even further, he says. What would I miss most? The sunsets.
For sale through EHB (01926 499540) for 1.5 million.