Successful conversions embrace all manner of buildings: not just farms and barns but chapels, windmills, coach houses, water towers all have their own quirky attractions and can make highly individual and coveted homes; typically with three or four bedrooms and an acre or so, according to agents Strutt & Parker.
Barns are often ripe for conversion into a family home. ‘Their farmland location means that many have peaceful situations with rural views,’ says Ian Hepburn, who runs the Salisbury of Strutt & Parker. ‘Their basic design ? a large void ? gives plenty of scope for impressive interiors. And because they are usually built from traditional local materials, they tend to have plenty of period atmosphere and rustic style: exposed stone and brick, large beams and trusses.
‘Conversions offer the best of both: a period structure with contemporary conveniences and interiors planned, as far as is practicable, for modern living.’
The need to insert living space into an existing framework means that conversions often have irregular layouts: there might be bedrooms on the ground floor or in galleries and mezzanines; some might be accessed through others.
This irregularity means that conversions are not top of the list with families. But they are hot properties for older couples and younger weekenders, who typify today’s buyers of rural conversions. “Many weekenders are young professionals who are used to sleek interiors and easy upkeep,’ says Mr Hepburn. ‘They want a small-scale conversion with a manageable garden. And they want to be able to entertain in style: even the most intimate conversion will usually go all-out for an impressive living room ? full-height, galleried and making the most of oak beams and exposed masonry. Traditional cottages just can’t compete.’
Older buyers are often downsizing from substantial family homes. With a conversion, downsizing need not mean downgrading, which is important ? “downsizers don’t want to be seen to be downsizing”, according to Mr Hepburn.
Conversion must haves:
* Original features will always attract interest ? this includes tastefully retained machinery in a windmill or Victorian floor tiles in a chapel
* Eat-in kitchen
* Fitted carpets are out; oak floors are in
* No lino in the kitchen; terracotta or quarry tiles are preferred
* Same as above for hall if no wooden floor
For sale through Strutt & Parker, Cirencester (01285 653 101). A Cotswold country house converted from a Grade II Listed barn comprising of a dining hall, drawing room, sitting room, garden room, playroom, family kitchen, study, utility, cloakroom, garaging, seven bedrooms, four bathrooms, sitting room, office, paddocks and about 64.84 acres. £2,250,000.