A unexpected sign pointed designers Poppy Treffry and Justin Duance in the welcome direction of a striking and individual home.
When Poppy Treffry and Justine Duance decided to move, it was the call of the surf that lured them. The couple had been living in Penzance in Cornwall but looking out for properties in a nearby village for three years. Anything that caught their eye was usually above their budget. But a chance sighting on a coastal path walk led to an unexpected purchase. ‘It was a simple handpainted sign that read “barn for sale”,’ says Poppy. ‘When we tracked down the farmer owner and arranged to meet, it turned out to be his tractor shed.’ In fact, the last thing the couple had been looking for was a project. ‘We wanted a house that didn’t really need work to be done on it, but this was just too good to turn down,’ says Poppy. Luckily, help was at hand. Her father trained as a surveyor and builder and used to specialise in barn conversions, so he got right behind the renovation. The project also required the trust and patience of the farmer who allowed the couple to do all the preliminary drawings and planning application before they had even exchanged contracts. ‘It was quite risky,’ explains Poppy. ‘We put in a lot of work and investment over a period of about a year, but he was very understanding and we trusted him not to sell to anyone else.’ One of the big draws was the location – a peaceful and beautiful spot close to the beach. And from the start, the pair could see what this tractor shed could become. ‘At that first viewing, we walked around saying “bedrooms here, the bathroom there…”,’ says Poppy. ‘I’ve still got some of our sketches from that time and it’s pretty much how it turned out.’ The couple worked on the design together with Poppy’s father advising. ‘We weren’t allowed to knock down any walls and, in many ways, those constraints were a blessing. If we’d had carte blanche we would have needed an architect but, instead, we could just focus on getting the best from the available space,’ she says. They found inspiration on websites including Pinterest, and from architects such as Rural Design who build with industrial elements in the Scottish Isles. ‘We looked for similar styles and materials as our barn had timber-clad walls and a corrugated roof.’ In remodelling the structure, they used reclaimed materials where possible. The beams needed to support a new and heavier roof, which came from Par Docks and the China Clay Works; some of the internal doors were salvaged from a hotel in Fowey and Justin made the impressive copper front door himself, working with a local coppersmith at The Copper Works Newlyn. The interior is decorated in a mid-century modern style with touches of vintage and a few pops of colour. ‘I don’t really like lots of exposed stone or exposed wood,’ says Poppy. ‘I like touches of it here and there, and nothing too austere. We were always working towards a particular feel.’ Building from a shell has allowed them to install plenty of eco features. The heating and hot water are supplied by an air-source heat pump, there are solar panels and a ventilation system thatrecyclesthe airthrough the whole house, warming it in the process. With the property now complete, Poppy remarks on how surprisingly straightforward and smooth a process it has been. ‘It did take quite a long time and it was a bit surreal when we first moved in as it felt like such a big space to begin with, but now we’re properly settled.