Barn conversion near Bishop's Waltham
PUBLISHED: 11:02 29 June 2015 | UPDATED: 11:15 29 June 2015
Opting for maximum glamour over paired back minimalism - Julie Rodilosso wanted a barn conversion with stacks of character, as Emma Caulton found on her recent visit
I am greeted by the little and large of the canine world: Lulu is miniature even for a Maltese Terrier while Rupert is a 13-stone (and still growing) 15-month-old Great Dane puppy. Animals are important to Julie Rodilosso and from the window of her drawing room she can look out across the surrounding fields and see her horses and miniature ponies.
However, despite her love of animals, no one is more surprised than Julie that her home is a converted barn. Gothic Victorian and Edwardian townhouses with high ceilings and ornate architectural features were more her style. In fact Julie and her husband had barely glanced at the property details for Cross Lane Farm Barn when, disappointed by other properties they had viewed, Julie suggested: “Let’s just go and see this one.”
She remembers, “I bought it there and then on the day because it had so much character and practicality. I never thought I’d be living in a barn, but actually I prefer this to the traditional homes we used to live in.”
Julie jokes that she is converted to barn conversions, and I can see why.
First there is the picturesque location. Ashton is a hamlet of farmhouses and weather-boarded barns among the folds of the landscape. When I visit the trees are in blossom and the grassy banks are pale gold with primroses. This is rural Hampshire, and yet it is only a 20-minute drive through countryside from Winchester, and close to Bishop’s Waltham.
“You feel you are in the middle of nowhere, but actually you are close to everything,” comments Neil, Julie’s PA, who makes a quick dash to Bishop’s Waltham to buy us ‘proper’ coffees from Josie’s – it’s that close.
Second there is the sense of spaciousness. Julie liked the feeling of openness about the property. The oak frame barn, at the heart of the home, is a vast space; old beams soar into the high vaulted roof and there’s an impressive central chimney with wood-burning stove. The barn is believed to have medieval origins and was converted by renowned Winchester architect Huw Thomas. It has rather cleverly been divided into three ‘zones’: drawing room, raised dining room and a sitting room or family ‘snug’.
Third were its possibilities. Julie recalls, “It had two separate cottages and the stables with the potential for me to work from home without having an office in the house.” The separation between home and work is valued, although Julie admits: “At night I can go across to the office in my pyjamas if I want, and I do, as I’m a workaholic!”
The charming flint and brick stables and cottages were renovated and converted into a home office with kitchen and shower facilities, a home for Neil and an annexe for Julie’s mother. She also sought planning permission to build a link between the barn and the nearest cottage, now the ‘annexe’, which allowed her to create an impressive master bedroom suite over two levels comprising bedroom with doors onto suntrap gardens, luxurious en suite bathroom and his and her dressing rooms with hand-painted panelled wardrobes.
Altogether the work took around two and a half years. Julie says, “Neil’s place was completely derelict, we’ve rewired everywhere, redid all the stables, reseeded and fenced the fields... It would be quicker to tell you what we haven’t done!”
Having transformed the buildings, Julie introduced warm and opulent schemes that reflect her love of colour: “This space allows you to use bold colours, and I love bold!”
In the drawing room ‘area’ of the barn, Julie has used vivid leaf greens, teals and turquoises and rich mauves and purples for an explosion of warmth. She has also introduced glamour by adding a brass candelabra over the dining table and lovely pieces such as a lacquered Chinese chest, while in the snug there’s a relaxing club room feel with leather sofa and old chest.
Overall there is an opulence that contrasts attractively with the barn’s rustic character – its old beams, believed to have been recycled from old ships’ timbers, lit by hidden uplighters.
Julie has also chosen a grass green carpet and left the full-height glass bay (once the barn door) uncovered to achieve the effect of bringing the outside in. As Julie comments, “It’s very private and I can see the view late at night”.
There’s a glam take on a farmhouse kitchen with bespoke pale wood cupboards combined with glossy black granite work surfaces, classic butler’s sink, old beams, flagstone floors and the sparkle of another candelabra.
The master bedroom is a luxurious retreat. In the en suite bathroom Julie has positioned a freestanding tub on gilt claw feet in front of the window framed by gilded pillars topped by Chinese vases. There’s a pair of basins in ornate dark washstands, an over-sized walk-in shower, stone tiling in caramel and dramatic aubergine on the walls. It amounts to a really indulgent bath time experience - there’s no pared-back minimalism for Julie, who laughs: “I’ve stayed in hotels where the bathrooms are so minimalist you can’t find the taps!”
All the bedrooms have their own boutique hotel-style en suite bathrooms – some under the barn’s sloping eaves – which makes having family and friends staying easy.
“It’s a great place at Christmas! The kids come and my grandchildren and the accommodation means everyone has a bedroom with their own en suite.”
What Julie particularly likes about her home is that she can see her ponies and horses from the drawing room window.
“My favourite part of the house is the barn because I can see everything from here. I do love my bathroom, particularly after a long day in London, but animals are very important to my life and I can be in here and look out and see my horses, and my husband can sit here and watch me ride. There aren’t many homes where you can see your horses from the house, and it gives me an extraordinary pleasure to be able to look out with a glass of wine.”
However Julie and husband Paul are downsizing and moving on, although she’s hoping not to leave the area.
“I’ve been the happiest I’ve ever been here. It’s a great village with great neighbours and great walks. It’s very tranquil and I can ride from here.
“I’d love to stay in the area, when you get here you don’t leave. The commute to London is fantastic - just an hour from Winchester, and it’s easy to reach the M3 to get up north or to Southampton Airport as I do fly a lot.
“In a day I can go for a ride, work and go up to London for a meeting; not many people can do that.”
Get The Look
• Barn conversion by Huw Thomas architects, Winchester, 01962 877752, www.huwthomasarchitects.co.uk
• Sofa in lime and purple from Harrods, similar style is the Trafalgar by Duresta, Bradbeers, Hedge End, 01489 772777
• Freestanding bath with claw feet, similar available from Ripples, Winchester, 01962 859256
• Ornate oversized mirrors leaning against walls to reflect light, similar available from Nicky Cornell, www.nickycornell.com
• Classic woodburning stoves, similar available from Kingsworthy Foundry, 01962 883776, www.kingsworthyfoundry.co.uk
• Grass green carpet, similar available from Wilton Flooring, Chandlers Ford, 02380 273732, Hedge End, 01489 798801
• Cross Lane Farm Barn is on the market for £1,875,000 with Savills, Winchester, 01962 841842, www.savills.co.uk