Monday, 30 November -0001

Barn Again

Repair, reuse and rethink has been the philosophy behind the conversion of a modern farm building, into a house that exudes casual bohemian style.

Written by Hugh St Clair

Mark and Sally Bailey's farmhouse and barn near Ross-on- Wye has become a must-visit place for anyone who wants to find things for their home that have a bit of character. Baileys home store sells a butler's sink copied from the original, vintage coat hooks, industrial metal ceiling lamps, lovely white milk jugs, and wooden crates artfully recycled into shelves.

140 RPS1393 Ingrams r1393-40886The couple have just published a book, Hand Made Home, which illustrates their ideas and philosophy: repair, reuse, rethink. 'One of our favourite things to do is to reuse bits and pieces that we find on our travels, and give them a new lease of life,' says Mark. 'It's our version of recycling... so, bobbins from old textile mills turn up on our shelves as egg timers, lamp bases or string holders; scraps of floorboard become mirror frames, tables or even kitchen units.'

Their inspiration came from a visit to Kettle's Yard in Cambridge, home of former Tate curator Jim Ede, who, between 1958 and 1973, made his house a work of art in itself. Work by some of the 20th-century's leading artists, such as Barbara Hepworth, Brancusi, Joan Miró and Ben and Winifred Nicholson, is displayed among found objects such as beautiful pebbles and pieces of driftwood, hand-crafted pottery and primitive country furniture. But of course, to get this look right needs careful consideration.

'It's all about grouping,' says Mark Bailey, and in the book he shows us how, through examples of homes he likes. On his kitchen shelves he has added what he calls 'a random object'; in this case an old tin toy, which sits next to a speckled jug by potter Andrew Crouch, and above hand-made plates and glasses.

One of the most interesting and unusual houses in the book belongs to graphic designer and fine artist Fred Ingrams and his wife Laura, who styles houses for photo shoots. Interior designers often go on about how all you need to do is go back to the bones of a building and work from there. In the Ingrams's case the bones were a 1980s tin Atcost farm building.

'We had outgrown our house and were looking for a barn to convert in Norfolk,' says Fred. 'However, so many barns are right on top of the farmhouse. Luckily, we found a 16th-century barn that was a distance away from the main building. We got it from the farmer I knew through the local cricket club. 'But the cost of conversion of the barn was beyond our budget – it costs £100 a square foot minimum to meet conservation standards when making a barn a house.'

141 RPS1393 Ingrams r1393-40811The Ingrams bought the barn, farmyard and two metal Atcost barns, and hit on a solution that would cost them a good deal less. They decided to make one of the metal barns into a house. At first, the council refused permission, but the Ingrams weren't deterred. Having lived in East Anglia they knew that because so many barns are lived in as private residences, original, untouched ones are scarce. The conservation officer agreed and a deal was made. They would keep the barn as it was and convert the Atcost.

'The foundations were fine and we clad the outside of the building in Siberian larch, which fades to a beautiful grey, and added insulation and plaster-board on the inside. All the roof pieces and joists come in sections, so there is little labour-intensive building work,' says Fred. The house is open-plan, with huge windows to let in light, and decorated according to Mark and Sally Bailey's diktat: 'Repair, reuse, re-think.' The furniture is antique and the arrangement casual. Below Fred's sought-after landscapes of The Fens are rustic pottery, galvanised oil cans, and a French wirework basket. A circular wooden top has been placed on galvanised steel washing dolly-tubs, to make sofa tables.

9781849751551An antique farmyard stool stands at the end of the Ingrams's bed and an aged loft ladder displays the towels in the bathroom.

'The great thing about all the houses in my book is that nothing is perfect. Chipped paint and worn edges all add to the atmosphere, says Mark Bailey. 'There's a possibility inherent in everything.'

For more about Fred Ingrams's paintings: www.fredingrams.com

Baileys Home Store, Bridstow, Hereford HR9 6JU: 01989-561931, www.baileyshomeandgarden.com

Hand Made Home by Mark and Sally Bailey (Ryland Peters and Small, £19.99).

Kettle's Yard, Castle Street, Cambridge CB3 0AQ: 01223-748100, www.kettlesyard.co.uk

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