A wealth of original features keeps the character and charm of Bernie Rix’s converted barn alive.
Original stone walls, wooden beams and an inglenook fireplace all contribute to the rustic charm that led Bernie Rix and her husband Dave to fall head over heels for this characterful family home. ‘Before we’d even stepped inside, the beautiful features had won us over’, recalls Bernie. ‘The gable end windows, the waney-edge cladding and Blue Lias stone gave the barn that rural appeal we were looking for; something very different to the townhouse we were living in.’ Originally built around 1850, the barn had been converted into a dwelling in the early Seventies. The previous owners had renovated since then, but when Bernie and Dave moved in, in 2016, it was time for an update. ‘Luckily for us, the work carried out had been done to a very high standard using good-quality materials, including solid-oak flooring and a handmade kitchen with a flagstone floor,’ says Bernie. As well as cosmetic updates, work needed to be done on the electrics and woodworm in the loft. The overgrown garden was another project in itself, with Bernie and Dave working on it at weekends. The country-style kitchen was one of the main draws of the property. ‘Although it’s about 20 years old, the quality is fantastic and we love the Shaker style of the cabinetry,’ says Bernie. ‘We repainted the units and added a bespoke island as a focal point.’ Plus, the open flow of the kitchen, dining and sitting room also makes a great space for the family’s Labradors, Odie and Rolo, who have free rein of the downstairs. With no structural changes needed, Bernie was able to put her stamp on the interior not long after they moved in. ‘The previous decor was fairly neutral, which meant it was easy to look past the existing schemes and visualise what to do with each space,’ she says. ‘As our previous home was modern and the furniture we owned just wouldn’t sit right in a property of this age, we bought several pieces at Bonds Lifestyle, a local antiques and interiors emporium.’ Adding colour through soft furnishings has brought each room to life and Bernie has paid particular attention to the window dressings. ‘I run a soft furnishings business called Rix Interiors (@rixinteriors), so I have made all of the curtains, blinds and most of the cushions myself.’ With the dark wooden beams in nearly every room, Bernie has kept the walls light in colour to maintain an open feel. ‘I chose Farrow & Ball’s Skimming Stone for most of the interior walls, as it has a warm tone to it and creates a lovely contrast.’ Preserving the charm of the original barn was a priority for Bernie, so she has cleverly mixed traditional style with more modern touches. ‘Living in a historic property doesn’t mean you have to be restricted in your decorating choices,’ she says. ‘While I’ve given a nod to the original building, I’ve still made it our own and brought it up to date with splashes of colour and personal touches.’ With two grown-up children, Amy and Joe, and Bernie’s granddaughter, Ottilie, often staying, along with extended family, Bernie has made sure the whole space works for everyone. ‘Being able to spill over from the dining room into the cosy sitting room is perfect for entertaining large groups, particularly in winter when we can all gather round the log burner.
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