Look inside a Cotswold stone barn conversion near Lechlade

Sitting room in barn conversion

The two grey Heals armchairs in the sitting room are 40 years old, and David keeps re-covering them. The side lamps are called Sculpted Manhattan from Porta Romano. The walls are painted in Paint & Paper Library matt emulsion Heath - Credit: Heather Gunn

It was love at first sight 13 years ago when London-based David Carden saw the Cotswold stone barn near Lechlade, with its double-height ceiling and timber beams

It was not only the beautiful location, but also the huge main room, that sold Poplar Barn to David Carden and his late partner Neil Ray 13 years ago. 

‘This room had been converted from a Grade 2-listed Cotswold stone barn before we arrived, and as soon as we saw the double-height ceiling and mass of beams we knew we had found home,’ says David. ‘I love the height and space, and despite its size it’s very cosy at night thanks to the log burner.’ 

slate-roofed barn conversion

The slate-roofed barn has three bedrooms: two in the granary sharing a shower room, and one in the low-roofed extension - Credit: Heather Gunn

The couple had been living in a flat in London and weekending in their Cotswold cottage which they had extended as far as possible before realising they needed to find a larger property. 

‘Much of my working life has been in property renovation, interior design and space planning. One of the advantages of the barn was its space. I saw its potential immediately. It had just been converted so the hard work was done and all I needed to do was to add my stamp to it.’ 

The slate-roofed barn near Lechlade also came with an attached converted granary and a ranch-like extension with just over an acre of land. The extension had been added at the time of the conversion and contained a kitchen, utility room and master bedroom. 

master bedroom

The chest of drawers in the master bedroom is by Andrew Martin, and the anglepoise lamp by David Linley. The headboard is covered in washed linen by de Le Cuona, and the wardrobe supplied and installed by Inspired Design - Credit: Heather Gunn

twin bedroom

The vintage single bed frames are from a Tetbury antique shop, and the bed linen is from The White Company. The antique storm lantern is from Stow-on-the-Wold - Credit: Heather Gunn

‘The barn had been owned by a farming family and was in a poor state when the developer took it on. I believe both barn and granary date from the 1700s,’ says David. ‘We just fell in love with the location, the secluded garden and all the rooms.’ 

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Soon after moving in, David started work. ‘I neutralised the interior,’ he says. ’There was too much exposed pine woodwork and oak timber flooring which echoed when we walked on it. So I removed the engineered oak boards, giving half to my mother and the other half to a friend. Then I replaced them with underlay and natural sisal laid on the concrete screed. This was softer and more sound-absorbing, and much more welcoming. 

dining room

David commissioned the chairs and the oak table from The Woodworking Shop in Woodstock. The table can seat from four to 14 people, with the addition of leaves - Credit: Heather Gunn

‘I also painted out the brown wooden windows with neutral coloured Stone 1 to 5, from Paint & Paper Library’s Architectural range. In fact I used this neutral colour pallet throughout the barn and it’s only recently that I’ve introduced more colour in the sitting room, dining room and new en suite. In fact I spent lockdown repainting all the walls.’ 

David also removed the suspended spot lights – ‘bright enough to land a helicopter!’ – and replaced them with a Porto Romana chandelier and discreetly mounted spot lights on the beams. 

Sitting room

The 19th-century plaster angel wings on the wall came from a Spanish church via an antique shop in Tetbury. The chest was made by David Carden’s grandfather when he was 14 to contain his joinery tools. The bespoke footstool, sofa and armchairs were reupholstered by As New Upholstery based in Abingdon - Credit: Heather Gunn

sitting room detail

The chest was made by David Carden’s grandfather when he was 14 to contain his joinery tools - Credit: Heather Gunn

The couple also decided the main bedroom needed a much bigger en suite bathroom.  

‘So, I used the combined space from the existing en suite and a walk-in wardrobe,’ says David. ‘I designed the room and my brother Peter Carden, a joiner, built it using stud walls. I raised the floor to conceal the pipe work but the bath was placed on the original floor so it looks sunken. I then made a point of creating a low narrow window above the bath so when lying in it I could see the lavender garden without anyone seeing me!’ 

David also designed the wood panelling on the en suite wall and Peter made it. David also spent hours at the stone yard looking for the right limestone with exposed ammonites and fossils with which to surround the bath. 

master en suite

Master en suite built by Peter Carden: The sunken Bette steel bath measures 1800x800cm. The floor and bath surround is Moleanos Blue Honed limestone, and the taps and bath filler are by Lefroy Brooks. The pedestal basin is by Catalano. Peter Carden made the wall cladding from horizontal timber planks with edging detail and painted in Little Greene National Trust Knightsbridge 215 - Credit: Heather Gunn

guest cloakroom

Guest cloakroom: Peter made the vanity unit with its bark edge work top, and John Jelfs – a local potter based in Bourton-on-the-Water – made the basin. The driftwood mirror frame is from Daylesford, and the wall colour is Farrow and Ball Lichen - Credit: Heather Gunn

Peter also helped a great deal throughout the rest of the barn. 

‘In the sitting room I designed the oak mantelpiece above the wood burner and again Peter made it. For the cloakroom, he made the oak vanity unit and I commissioned local potter, John Jelfs to make the beautiful ceramic bowl.’ 

Guest shower room

Guest shower room: The basin is Foster by Duravit, and the tap by Hansgrohe. The mosaic wall tiles and porcelain floor tiles are both by Fired Earth - Credit: Heather Gunn

Then, in 2014, David replaced the farmhouse oak kitchen with something more contemporary and practical. He used Inspired Design in Huddersfield who recommended the German-made Schuller Next 125; this offered the sleek and clean lines David wanted as well as much increased storage. 

‘The work tops are quartz. I chose a combination of silver birch veneer drawer fronts on the base units and high gloss for the rest. The high gloss provides a mirror image of the garden and reflects the light. 

The German-made Schuller Next 125 kitchen units with quartz worktops

The German-made Schuller Next 125 kitchen units with quartz worktops - Credit: Heather Gunn

kitchen detail

The German-made Schuller Next 125 kitchen units with quartz worktops - Credit: Heather Gunn

‘As for the original flagstone floor it’s very practical and reflects the heritage of the building. The Aga heats the kitchen even in the coldest of winters and the kitchen is flooded with light all day from the wall of windows facing south east. 

‘The kitchen leads out through French doors to a fantastic glazed terrace, complete with decking, seating and gas firepit for easy entertaining,’ he adds. ‘Plenty of space for dining and drinking late into the night with friends and family.’ 

The couple created the terrace and added the temporary aluminium frame with glass roof

The couple created the terrace and added the temporary aluminium frame with glass roof - Credit: Heather Gunn

The barn had been surrounded by grass and gravel paths, so the couple asked local garden designer Sarah Ewbank to help with the design and landscaping. Now they have created a formal garden with a water feature and sculpture, while the rest of the land was planted with a copse, an orchard and a pond.  

‘The barn has provided us with enough privacy and space over the years to entertain our families and friends.,’ he finishes. ‘We’ve had many parties here and we’ve even hosted a wedding for 120 guests; plus we’ve had a charity music festival hosted by a drag queen who introduced the various rock bands! And now it’s time for a new challenge. The barn will certainly be a fantastic home for some very lucky people.’ 

For sale through Butler Sherborn. 

David Carden at home

David Carden at home - Credit: Heather Gunn

ADDRESS BOOK  

  • David Carden, interior designer and space planner, 01367 810 501 and 07774 235 719, cardendesign.co.uk  
  • Inspired Design (Jonathan Wood) 0113 345 5728, inspireddesignkitchens.com 
  • Anything Stone, 01793 250486, anythingstone.co.uk  
  • As New Upholstery (Gary Morley) 01235 522770, asnew-upholstery.co.uk 
  • Walters Electrical (Scott Walter) 07970 055487