When the landscape of rolling farmland and agricultural buildings has been a part of your family roots for several generations, it’s easy to be called back. So when the opportunity to settle in the Hertfordshire countryside came up, one family took it—no matter that the property required some serious overhauling. Heath Walker Studio was commissioned to complete the conversion of a dilapidated tractor shed on the land, located in southeast England. “The design process was deeply personal, as the client sought to make his mark and create an idiosyncratic family home,” says Jane Heath, partner at Heath Walker Studio. “Having relocated to London to pursue his artistic career, the client was ready to move back to the place of his childhood.” The now four-bedroom home is a light-filled and spacious live-work project, with two generous studio spaces.
Growing up in a rambling farmhouse, the client had a love of open landscape and barn-like spaces but also a fascination for cozy, hidden-away rooms. Being closely involved in every aspect of the project, the client sourced timber for the exterior cladding, cut from trees felled from his own land. He blackened the timber using a blowtorch to create a soft, variegated effect.
Approaching the house from the north, the simple, bold openings of the elevations are evocative of the original building with its giant barn doors. Entry is now from the side through a small porch recess, a last glance of the landscape visible through a corner window, then onto the polished concrete floor. “The footprint and overall volume of the original building was maintained, and we chose a restrained palette of materials to leave the interior as natural as possible,” says Jane.
Because the client has a love for open spaces, the studio made sure to focus on the proportion of the rooms. The dramatic scale of the former shed is fully revealed in the entrance hall, main studio, and open-plan, oak-faced plywood kitchen. The lowered ceiling height in the adjoining dining area is intimate yet expansive, opening onto the garden and landscape beyond, while the living room benefits from a large picture window and high ceilings. Every part of the building’s volume has been fully utilized: “Even the pockets of space around the edges of the sloping roof at first-floor level, with their reduced ceiling heights, have been incorporated, providing spaces for storage as well as playing hide-and-seek,” says Jane.
The former single-level shed now has a second story with warm, solid oak floors and stairwell linings. Waking up to enjoy the views of the countryside was a prime consideration: a low-level window in the master bedroom is positioned for taking in the landscape while reclining in bed.
Originally Appeared on Architectural Digest