PARTY HOUSE
Country Homes & Interiors|December 2020
At Christmas, the singing, dancing and laughter of their five children fills the rooms of this homely barn, converted by Maria and John Southwood
MAGGIE COLVIN

Hall

A console table provides a festive welcome decorated with baubles and natural foliage. Baubles, Cox & Cox. Console table, Graham and Green. Lamp, Pooky

SOMERSET BARN

Dining area A new skylight has transformed the space, filling the room with natural light. Pendant lights, Holloways of Ludlow

Exterior

The converted barn acquired a new porch, larger windows and a Juliet balcony. Door and window frames in Studio Green, Farrow & Ball

AT HOME WITH

Owners Maria Southwood, a GP, and her husband John, a City financier, and their five children, Felix, nine, Ellie, eight, Sofia, five, Anna, three, and Louisa, 18 months.

House A converted cattle barn in Somerset dating back to the 1800s, with six bedrooms and a separate guest cottage, completed in 2019.

For most parents, Christmas shopping is a highly secretive affair – even more so when you have five children to conceal presents from. ‘I am blessed with a lock-up cupboard under the stairs,’ says Maria Southwood, although hanging stockings from the bannisters above must only increase the anticipation about what’s hidden inside.

Being a GP as well as a mother of five, Maria has to be super efficient with her festive planning, so by the beginning of December the tree is ordered from a local farm and safely installed at one end of the living room, ready to be decorated. For the second year now, it takes pride of place in their newly converted barn – a property bought after Maria and John’s fourth child, Anna, was born. ‘We were fed up with always trying to book country cottages for holidays and weekends and just missing them. We finally decided to buy somewhere of our own,’ says Maria.

The couple first considered Gloucestershire, but decided on Somerset, where properties were less expensive. ‘I come from a family of architects, and my sister Claire and my brother-in-law Max, founders of the award-winning architect and interior design firm De Rosee Sa, were our obvious first port of call when it came to the barn’s conversion.’

Kitchen

The Aga takes centre stage and the shelf above it, made from reclaimed timber, adds an additional rustic touch. Similar Aga, Aga Living

Kitchen

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