BARN AGAIN
Homes & Interiors Scotland|May - June 2021
Until very recently, this was a derelict cow byre. Now, resurrected and renovated, it has a new life as an elegant but welcoming room for entertaining
Gillian Welsh

East Kilbride, you might have heard, isn’t the most scenic corner of Scotland. But beyond the concrete, the shopping centres and the car parks, are pockets of genuine loveliness. On the outskirts, a wee bit away from the whiz of the Whirlies (the spherical sculptures that adorn the most famous of the town’s many roundabouts) is this property, a former farmhouse overlooking vast swathes of South Lanarkshire’s lush green fields.

The house glows now, following a thorough makeover, but it has taken time, effort and a lot of ingenuity to get it looking this good. Interior designer Pat Renson is responsible for much of the improvement. She was commissioned to turn the semi-derelict cow byre adjoining the house into a spacious contemporary room for entertaining. But her task soon escalated into the refurbishment of the entire house, and with that came plenty of challenges.

“The farmhouse had been altered many times over the years and some of the workmanship was of pretty poor quality,” she recalls. “It made sense for the builders to fix it all at the same time as the byre was being worked on.”

The house’s elevated position leaves it exposed to the elements, so the idea was to create a sheltered central courtyard, with the byre – newly attached to the house as part of an L-shaped extension – opening into it. The owners, a family with whom Renson had worked before, wanted the space to be arranged around a generous dining table and comfortable sofas. “The man of the house also requested a bar area where he and his pals could relax watching football,” she says. The main space was to be used all year round, and, with its new bifold doors open wide, it would be particularly good for summer parties.

So far, so straightforward. But that’s without reckoning on the sheer size of the space. It’s gigantic. The byre is nearly 6.5m wide, and almost 12m long; the room it adjoins is 5.5m deep, so the whole space is effectively just shy of 17.5m in length. Add in the effect of a double-height ceiling that feels even higher, since it goes all the way up to the apex of the roof, and you’re dealing with a seriously cavernous volume. How do you make it feel cosy and welcoming? How do you prevent it overwhelming the owners and their guests?

To stop people feeling lost, Renson knew it was essential to create zones within the open-plan layout. First, though, she focused on the floor. Carnoustie’s Natural Floor Company supplied and fitted the engineered oak in a herringbone pattern, which has been laid on top of underfloor heating (“essential in a space this size”). Large rugs were then strategically placed to break up the expanse of timber and delineate the various functions – dining, lounging and so on.

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