Jason and Philippa Park renovated seven houses, including a chateau in France, before returning to Lancashire and buying Jason’s childhood home. Much like his dad, who completed the original barn conversion, Jason tackled the renovation work himself.

Jason and Philippa Park live in a large barn conversion in Bay Horse near Lancaster with their teenage daughter Verity, and dogs Aslan and Maple. The house has undergone significant redevelopment since the couple bought it in 2017, much like the other seven properties in which they have lived and renovated over the years.

What makes this eighth project so unusual is that Jason’s parents bought the plot in 1987 and completed the original barn conversion, where the family then lived for around 10 years.

Great British Life: Jason (pictured as a child) remembers the barn being convertedJason (pictured as a child) remembers the barn being converted (Image: Kirsty Thompson)

‘My dad was a builder/joiner and did the majority of the work converting the barn himself. I learned a lot of skills from him that have stood me in good stead over the years. It’s quite sad that he’s not around to see the house since we bought it back and put our stamp on it.’

There are still reminders of his father’s hard work around the home though, such as the beams he put in that Jason left exposed when the upstairs layout was altered. ‘We removed the boxing in around the steels and left them on show as an interesting feature.’

Much like his dad, Jason has done virtually all his own renovation work.

Great British Life: The circular shape in the reclaimed wood fireplace hints at a previous useThe circular shape in the reclaimed wood fireplace hints at a previous use (Image: Kirsty Thompson)

Along with transforming the house itself, he has also built a summer house/gym space, a workshop and extended the garage to create self-contained guest accommodation – where the family lived onsite while completing work on the house.

‘There’s always more to do – the next stage will be landscaping the garden - but I’m really pleased with how the house came together. It’s how we wanted it, it flows well, and it’s down to experience that we didn’t come across any major unexpected obstacles. We had already learnt plenty of lessons on much earlier projects.

‘Some alterations we’ve done don’t sound like drastic changes, such as widening the hallway upstairs - but it makes a huge difference to the feel of the house. What was a long narrow corridor with a low ceiling built in the 80s is now much more open, spacious and filled with light. I think we’re working with the character of the building rather than against it. For example, leaving one of our bedroom walls exposed stone gives a great contrast against the panelling and soft furnishings.’

Great British Life: Jason turned a BBC studio light into a striking lampJason turned a BBC studio light into a striking lamp (Image: Kirsty Thompson)Great British Life: The rocking horse is one of Jason's favourite things in the house, made by his dad before ailing health left him unable to work with his handsThe rocking horse is one of Jason's favourite things in the house, made by his dad before ailing health left him unable to work with his hands (Image: Kirsty Thompson)

There’s a carefully curated mix of textures and styles throughout the whole house that seems to work effortlessly. Industrial fittings and fixtures sit beautifully alongside sleek modern touches and characterful antiques. A huge dining table is surrounded by not-quite-matching chairs finished with modern seat cushions and bright bands of colour. ‘We got the table on ebay and collected up the chairs from various places, then upholstered them ourselves’ explains Jason modestly. ‘It’s a good way to save money and get exactly what you want. Philippa sewed the blinds and curtains and made most of the lampshades and cushions around the house too. We’re very good at making things and stretching a budget out where we can, so that those savings can be used elsewhere on more specialist things that we can’t do.’

You’d be forgiven for thinking Philippa had a career in interiors... but she’s actually a reservoir engineer. In fact, the more you hear about the couple’s achievements – the more the average person begins to feel somewhat inadequate. Not only have they redesigned, renovated and extended their current home in the time most of us might have (just about) replaced a kitchen, it’s also clear that Jason can turn his hand to most things: ‘I made that lamp from an old BBC studio light, and I built the fireplace out of wood I brought back from France which I think must have housed a mill wheel at some time – you can see the circle cut out. I love that the mantle has an 1848 inscription.’ He explains how he also made the panelling in the living room and laid the floor, as well as cladding the garden buildings, designing and fitting a walk-in wardrobe, and...the list goes on. ‘You can save a fortune on home improvements if you get stuck in and do things for yourself. We priced up some handles for the kitchen that came to £40-£50 each, so instead I bought some metal stair spindles and bent them in my workshop. It gives exactly the same effect, but came out nearer £5 each.’

Great British Life: Bright pops of colour contrast with more traditional, muted tonesBright pops of colour contrast with more traditional, muted tones (Image: Kirsty Thompson)Great British Life: Exposed stone barn walls contrast beautifully with other design featuresExposed stone barn walls contrast beautifully with other design features (Image: Kirsty Thompson)

This determined and capable mindset has seen the couple tackle numerous ambitious projects over the years, with two properties even securing their own dedicated TV series.

George Clarke’s ‘Build a New Life in the Country’ followed Jason and Philippa when they left careers in Aberdeen's oil and gas industry to renovate a historic chateau in France's Loire Valley. ‘The chateau had originally been a convent, and had a huge 12 ft wall around the entire grounds. There were about 20 rooms and we renovated it all ourselves. It had had numerous owners since the 1800s and it had never been fully finished before. We were very proud to be the ones to complete it, as well as adding in a swimming pool and converting an old dairy building.

‘We ran it as a luxury B&B and hosted weddings, but it was hard without staff. We’d be cooking four-course meals and entertaining guests until midnight, but we still had to be up to go to the bakery for breakfast in the morning and then there were all the grounds to maintain, not to mention the house itself. After a few years it became unsustainable for us without help.

Great British Life: An aged-effect mirror backdrop reflects light above the kitchen cabinetsAn aged-effect mirror backdrop reflects light above the kitchen cabinets (Image: Kirsty Thompson)

‘Verity had been born out there and we decided the time had come to return to the UK.’

Not only did the couple tackle the chateau single handedly, but Jason also managed the sale of the property himself. ‘It took about two years to complete, with lots of trips back and forth to France to do viewings and sort things out.’

Next, the couple completely transformed an expansive Surrey property which was also televised – this time on Charlie Luxton’s ‘Building the Dream’.

Their current house is arguably the first time the family has designed a home purely for themselves, with quirky touches and bold architectural choices in abundance. ‘I really like the kitchen worktop, especially the island countertop which is one single big piece, but its natural markings might not be to everyone’s taste. We’ve designed and decorated this space purely for us, rather than thinking about any future buyers. It’s fair to say this is our ‘forever’ home.

‘I think I’ve had my fill of doing physical building and joinery work, but who knows – I could be tempted to take on a planning project for someone else.’

Great British Life: Aslan and Maple love the amount of outdoor space there is to run around inAslan and Maple love the amount of outdoor space there is to run around in (Image: Kirsty Thompson)