Bachelor pad meets family home for the weekend? This may not be the most traditional barn conversion, but then owner Simon Lue-Fong didn’t want to call it traditional. He was looking for a country getaway for himself and his two young daughters who spend most weekends with him. So when his best friend Vic spots his Beaconsfield barn for sale, Simon’s dreams of moving from London quickly become a reality. As soon as I got in here, I knew this was where I wanted to live. Simon recalls: I made an offer the same day.
Although the barn conversion was in excellent structural condition, it had not changed since its conversion in the 1980s. “But I can see how updating the home’s design by incorporating a modern touch with the old structure could create the dream home I’ve been looking for,” he says. Simon turned to interior designer Pia Belkonen from Pia Design (Opens in a new tab) to come up with a plan, explaining that he wanted the interiors to be inspired by Annabelle’s nightclub. “It was to push her not to make the house too conservative in its design,” he explains. The barn was also to be a pleasant place for Simon’s daughters, and he wanted them to have an entry into their chambers.
Sustainability is important to Pia, so rather than focusing on what needs to be removed from the fold, she looked at what she could adapt to. “My initial impression was a lot of orange wood and worn carpet,” says Pia. “But they were good sized rooms and there was no need to demolish the walls or extend the existing building.” This proved to be a blessing as the barn is Grade II listed, with parts of the building dating back to the 17th century, so avoiding structural changes was the easier option.
“Of all the additions, the most disturbing was the balustrade around the upper floor, a mezzanine added to house the bedrooms and bathrooms,” says Pia. “The orange wood clashed with the original barn beams, and we decided to replace the handrail with simple glass panels that allowed the beams’ old woodwork to shine through again.”
Pia knew subtle style would work best, especially when designing girls’ rooms to grow with. “We used paint and wallpaper panels on the cabinet doors to give them a fresh look,” explains Pia. “These add a lot of character but can easily be changed in the future.” She also opted for simple solutions elsewhere in the house. An extra-long and narrow table that fit the difficult proportions in the dining room and the cupboards from Howdens were good choices for the kitchen where Simon didn’t want to invest too much.
Although Pia has kept the original layout and room sizes intact, the result is a dramatic transformation and the barn is unrecognizable from first meeting. Moody interiors and Simon’s favorite color gray are the backbone of the new schemes. “The taupe really adds to the bachelor vibe and makes the beams pop,” says Pia.
Simon’s brief to Pia was that “when anyone walks through the door it should be clear I had nothing to do with the design!” Pia has a different opinion on this matter. Simon feels he handed all the design decisions over to Bea, while she says she interpreted the exact look he wanted for the barn. Two different sides of the same story – definitely a sign of a successful collaboration between designer and client.