Kate Priestley's father transformed this outbuilding into calving pens in the 1990s. It is now home to a rather different sort of family – a human one. Anna Tyzack reports.

Outbuilding conversions are becoming all the rage. It’s not hard to see why: the benefits of looser planning requirements and a virtual blank slate attracts the more creative among would-be property developers and professionals alike. While we’ve seen our fair share of sheep shed and dovecote conversions, larger conversions are not unheard of.

Katie Priestley, Dairy Farm conversion

The dairy at Duddle Farm near Dorchester, Dorset, was relocated from another local farm in the early 1900s – you can tell because the beams are numbered – and transformed into calving pens by Katie Priestley’s father in the 1990s. When he diversified into blueberries and forestry, the dairy was left empty.

It wasn’t until 2015, when the florist was pregnant with her third child, that Mrs Priestley’s parents suggested she and her husband, Matt, transform it into a family home. ‘The builders managed to complete the work in seven months, so we could move in before the baby arrived,’ she recalls.

Katie Priestley, Dairy Farm conversion

This was no mean feat given the scale of the building, which is L-shaped and housed tractors and farm machinery as well as livestock. Accommodation now includes four bedrooms, an office, a laundry room, a sitting room and a vast double-height kitchen with exposed rafters. ‘We’ve definitely upscaled – we could fit our old cottage and garden into the kitchen alone,’ laughs Mrs Priestley. ‘We can now have 35 sitting down for Christmas lunch.’

Katie Priestley, Dairy Farm conversion

The kitchen is the hub of family life, painted in blues, greys and whites, with sofas, toy cupboards and an enormous dining table, as well as an Aga and kitchen island. This opens onto the farmyard, where the children can ride their scooters and bikes and wander into their grandparents’ farmhouse.

Katie Priestley, Dairy Farm conversion

‘I was determined to live in this communal, multi-generational way,’ confirms Mrs Priestley. ‘It’s an intelligent way of using a building that no longer had a use and is a lovely space to live in.’