Barn to Boutique

Our transformation from barn to boutique took just less than one year.  It was a fascinating, challenging and sometimes rollercoaster time.

When we reflect on the experience of renovating our ancient barn to the boutique chalet it is now, we know that it took all of our combined experience, knowledge and perseverance to complete it.

We hope that our story may be interesting and inspiring for others and so, a year on, as the snow is falling again, we made the time to write a book about our transformation of ‘Barn to Boutique’.

You can preview and buy the book here
(http://www.blurb.co.uk/b/8396674-barn-to-boutique)

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We’re enjoying our home and even enjoying using the last scraps of old wood as firewood…

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Renovation barn to boutique chalet

Renovation our barn to a boutique chalet has been a long and rewarding journey.

When the building team started work in January 2016 it seemed like we had a very long way to go to transform our 1850s Savoyard barn to a boutique chalet and, what our designs promised to be, our dream home.Sheepskin chalet January as work startedBy mid December 2016 we were here…Chalet Bobb - 13th March 2017

Here are the key moments of the renovation of our barn to boutique chalet since my last update.

If you want to read in more detail we have published a photobook all about the renovation our barn to boutique chalet.   Click here to preview and buy our book Barn to Boutique.

In May the reclaimed wood bardage/cladding on the outside was almost complete so that work could start in earnest on the interior.Slowly the interior took shape with the apartment ready for us to fit the kitchen and floor and the electricians finishing off the lighting in the headboards we had built… IMG_3770

As the Tour de France arrived in June
Tour de France Morzine 2017we moved in to the barn, still far from a boutique chalet but in the apartment we had already fitted the wooden floor and kitchen.  Now we could more easily work each day on the house along side the building team…   chalet during renovation

In July whilst the builders were still on site I painted the stairs we had designed so that the reclaimed wood treads could be fitted in place…
and we took advantage of the many hands on site to install our rather large and delicate granite worktop for the main kitchen…
When the builders completed their part of the renovation of the barn, at the end July, we felt so near yet so far from our boutique chalet.

We then spent a fun, exhausting and fascinating five months completing the barn renovation ourselves.   From fitting floors to building furniture, painting walls to making skirting trims.Each day getting a step closer…

As the Mont Blanc Rallye transformed the town at the end of August…Our barn was transforming with the arrival of our contemporary Focus fireplace…

Visitors in September prompted us to completely finish one bedroom
on the day they arrived, their room at least was one expected in a boutique chalet!

A booking for the apartment in October put focus back on the apartment transforming it from our temporary living/work space …

to a boutique chalet apartment ready for our guests…as we celebrated Adam’s birthday upstairsjust a little lacking in furniture and finishing touches.Next priority, the main kitchen to be trimmed with reclaimed, and brushed old wood found in the barn or salvaged from the old bardage … and coffee machine, hooray!Realising our design for the master bathroom…became a race against the weather when snow started to fall as we were fitting the glass.but we made it a reality in November

By December we were exhausted but still determined to stick to the plan and completely finish in time for the winter.  We had to get creative to fit the lights in our double height living room… and enjoyed making bespoke furniture from old, gnarly wood we found in the barnimg_4104.jpg

Adam, deservedly, put his feet up on his bespoke coffee table and admired his hand-made TV stand.

Finally by mid December we were almost done.  Time for a quick trip to a funky, retro furniture shop to find breakfast bar stools (the two in the middle with the wooden seats)and with our last bit of energy, reclaimed wood from the barn and time before Christmas we made storage boxes for the bedrooms…We would go in to production if only we had more old wood…

Then we enjoyed very special times with family and friends in our new home, finally renovated from the old barn to boutique chalet.

If you have enjoyed reading this blog about the renovation of our barn to boutique chalet you may want to preview and buy our book ‘Barn to Boutique’.

Rustic harmonised with contemporary

Rustic harmonised with contemporary style was the idea we had from the first day we saw our traditional French barn and created the vision of the contemporary home it would become.

 

We have marvelled at the beauty of the rustic materials and traditional craftsmanship and enjoyed how the new materials and contemporary techniques are harmonising with old as our boutique chalet gradually emerges.

New floor under the old roofThe main part of the traditional building was the old wood structure where animals would once have been kept with a small living quarters, in stone, below. It was certainly rustic and, to us at least, crying out for a contemporary re-imagining.  As soon as we saw the wonderful craftsmanship and the traditional internal structure we saw how with the juxtaposition of contemporary style and new materials alongside rustic old wood we could create a stylish modern home here.

As more of the existing, traditional barn structure was uncovered we re-designed our layout to be sure our contemporary home retained as much of the original, rustic style as possible and replanned how our contemporary furnishings would fit and harmonise with it.design-around-framework

As the traditional bardage (panelling) was stripped away it gave us lots of old wood planks, not enough and too damaged unfortunately to reclad the new, contemporary building but plenty we hope to salvage and create some traditional character inside.

Beautiful range of colours of old wood

When the wooden framework was sandblasted the beauty of the traditional structure revealed was breath-taking.

french-lesson-building

We also sandblasted an old cupboard left by the previous owner, it really added nicely to the vast range of tones and textures in the different woods in the barn.

As spring started to arrive the building held on to its rustic appearance as new wood arrived and was incorporated into the structure.

The traditional barn has been here since 1850 and we hoped still sturdy enough to withstand our, well intentioned, contemporary interventions.

Old wood merges with new as contemporary techniques and fresh materials start to create the floors and walls of, what will be, our boutique chalet within the rustic, traditional framework.

The mezzanine created for our master bedroom and contemporary ensuite bathroom will sit directly under the traditional wooden roof boards.

More contemporary building materials are gradually integrated into the structure and wood salvaged from the barn is being cleverly used to create new structures.

As the snow disappeared from Morzine and Montriond (at 1000m) we were suddenly a little more exposed than we liked as the old wood on the roof needed to be removed and replaced with reclaimed wood.

Soon the team had reclaimed roof boards in place for our new roof to maintain the rustic and traditional look and we were able to progress the build of the contemporary chalet inside.

new wood combines with old as spring arrives

With the chalet dry inside the building of the contemporary home is progressing at a pace.  Lorry loads of contemporary building materials arrive and at times you do wonder how all of this modern material will fit in!  This is just the insulation for the roof…new materials boutique rustic chalet

With ‘Grand Designs’ style modern techniques we created old and rustic looking from new materials, burning and brushing new pine to create our own ‘vieux bois’.

a little dusty after burning new wood to old

Gradually, over ten months, the traditional and still very rustic looking barn was transformed into a modern and contemporary home…

always harmonising rustic and traditional with the contemporary style.

Enjoying our harvest of fruit and time…

After our travels in Europe, we promised ourselves a little time to simply sit (reasonably) still and enjoy our house and garden, enjoying our harvest of fruit and time I suppose.  Since we enjoyed most of the last year with the house as a building site, living a tent in the garden, and of course the last couple of months living in our camper van this time within four walls would be quite novel.

As you may gather from our previous blogs we do not find sitting still particularly easy; we are most relaxed making, doing or seeing something however we are always open to new experiences so we thought we’d give it a go.

It’s been great to take time to reflect and look back, thinking about where we were this time last year with all possible mod cons in our cosy tent in a corner of the garden…

building site camping

watching the house transform from 60’s bungalow to building site (this is the view from our tent in August last year) as we enjoyed the harvest of plums each morning from our trees hanging directly above the door of our tent…

Building site view last year

and eventually to the contemporary home that we had envisaged when we first set out on this adventure (the view from where the tents were now)…

renovated house view oxfordshire 2015

We’ve been thoroughly enjoying this time and space spending a whole afternoon in the garden picking plums and the evening eating or stewing our bountiful harvest of fruit…

Picking Green gages for cheese plate

Our garden was previously part of a priory orchard and therefore we are privileged to have several plum and apple trees as well as an ancient pear tree – sadly no longer producing fruit but a striking looking gentleman who looks like he is protecting the younger fruit trees with his gnarly old arms…

Dendritic Ancient pear tree

It took time but we got a great fruit harvest; Victoria, Mirabelle, Damsons, Greengages and wonderful yellow and pink ones (bottom left), delicately sweet with a wonderful soft texture, that we don’t know the name of (answers on a postcard please!) …

fruit harvest

We then spent a day bottling last year’s Damson Gin (and drinking a little of in our very own Gin / wine tasting), stewing (and eating) many of the plums we had harvested.  With our creative juices flowing as freely as the plum juices we then spent several hours cooking our favourite, delicious curries to enjoy that evening.  We walked off our bountiful feasts over the the following days with peaceful walks across the fields and around our stunning and mesmerising local town of Oxford.

Damson gin and curry

Admittedly we haven’t quite managed to simply still still but, from our point of view, these few days have been a very decadent but much needed and healthy (emotionally and physically) use of our fruit and time.