Old and new, 500 years apart, in perfect harmony

An old building, which was originally not a dwelling but a barn, was turned into a house which can be rented for romantic holidays. I couldn't get past the conversion of a 15th-century wooden barn built to serve a farm in the UK. What drew me in in the first place, more than the age, were the ideas of transformation to achieve a bright space in an enclosure that is, by definition, dark. Secondly, it was the designers' ideas of blending old and new without clutter, with each of the objects, whether old or new, finding their perfect place.


We're talking about the conversion of a wooden barn built 500 years ago. One of those tall, horizontal and vertical beamed buildings that served the farm as a place to keep animals and store hay and farm tools. American films also feature such barns.

The conversion was done keeping all these beams, but trying to achieve maximum comfort. Looked at as a whole it is a single room, just like the old barn. And also like the old barn, there is an attic that does not cover the whole area, so it is not totally separated from the space below. It's like a platform that you climb up the ladder to and from where you can look down on the space below without any problem.


Downstairs is the living room, kitchen and bathroom. The bathroom is the only separate room. The rest of the living room has kitchen, dining and sitting areas, separated by the way the furniture has been laid out or by false walls that double as storage space. However the areas seem separate and do not "get in the way".


The kitchen has its own identity given by the cabinetry and the way the walls have been decorated using old wooden spoons and twisters. The furniture is simple, austere, highlighted only by the solid wood worktop.


It is separated from the rest of the living room by a false wall that has various niches where kitchen objects and appliances can be placed on one side, or decorative objects on the other.


What's great about this living room is how the light problem has been solved without cutting the vertical beams. Between the beams, along the entire height of the wall, in the places that used to be filled with earth to form the wall, windows have been placed. Thus the wall became an alternation of old beams and glass "slices", which transformed a dark enclosure into a very bright and interesting one.


The staircase going up to the attic has at one point a part of a platform from where the living room can be seen in all its splendour.

converting a wooden barn

After a few more steps you reach the bedroom. Same highlighted beams, same space that looks old but manages to integrate the Scandinavian designed lamps and bedside tables very well. The old Persian rug gives a precious touch to the whole space.


And in the living room there is the same idea of combining old pieces of furniture or classic design with some modern, Scandinavian design, simple and austere.

converting a barn

Decorative objects, paintings, mirrors, follow the same interweaving the old with the newbut each finds its perfect place and creates a warm and welcoming atmosphere.



Converting a wooden barn can be very successful as long as you try to keep as many of the original elements as possible. This transformation is also spectacular because it is a space that no one would have thought could become a place for romantic holidays.


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About the author

Mihaela Radu

Mihaela Radu is a chemical engineer but has a great passion for wood. She has been working in the field for more than 20 years, wood finishing being what defined her during this period. She gained experience working in a research institute, in her own company, as well as in a multinational. She wants to continuously share her experience with those who have the same passion - and more.

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  • The embellishment of nonsense.

    And... when I think about building the new-new "nonsense", I want to kick myself in the head! 🙂


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