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’.

Adventure of selling a business

Having negotiated the sale of our holiday property business that we launched together and ran for seven years we approached the emotional and fraught time when contracts would be exchanged, the point of no return.  At this stage too we would be able to tell our team the news that the sale of our business meant that we would no longer be involved but their jobs were secure as they become part of a larger organisation.

Knowing this would be a complicated time for us, our team and our buyers we wanted to be there ‘on the ground’ during the sales completion process.

In May we therefore did what most people would do, well ok maybe not many people but some people at least, which is set of our in self-converted VW camper van with the plan to camp in the UK wherever we needed to for as long as we needed to.

First the most surprising and potentially embarrassing thing happened.  Do I even want to put it in writing? …we joined the Caravan club!  To much amusement of my caravan owning family and now fellow club members.  It was my northern roots taking hold when I found we would save our membership fee after staying just three nights,  I couldn’t resist the bargain.

The first week did not go as we hoped.   Our plan was to exchange contracts on the day we arrived in the UK and be able to tell the team immediately.  Unfortunately after we had set up camp in Moreton-in-Marsh campsite, close to the office so that we could go talk to the team the following day, we found there was more data and more double checking to be done by the buyers.

At this stage we had to maintain full confidentiality and therefore work away from our team.   So we connected to the painfully slow campsite wifi and pulled together business data and checked the sales contract sitting in a field in the Cotswolds…IMG_4536

We were deflated and emotionally exhausted knowing we had to be completely professional and detached but it felt alien and deceitful not able to tell our team.

We were pulled in two directions working with our enthusiastic team on creative ideas to continue to grow the business and the harsh reality that actually all we really needed to do was maintain the ‘numbers’.

I admit sometimes I just gave up and abandoned my desk for a comfier spot on the grass to put things in a different perspective…IMG_4556and the environment was a little distracting and not perhaps encouraging of the strictest work ethic…IMG_2092
Finally ready for exchange, we were asked to print and sign the 40 page contract.

We were stumped for a moment but then set off to the nearest shopping centre, bought a printer-scanner and signed, scanned and emailed the contract from the office/van in the car park.IMG_2089

Finally we could involve the team and work each day, openly, in the office as we prepared for the completion of the sale.  We were first in the shower blocks each morning and possibly looked a little out of place in office wear rather than shorts and t-shirts as the rest of the campers.

We always made sure we had lots of coffee and a hearty breakfast to set us up for the challenges of the day ahead and continued to grow the business as well as crunch the numbers.IMG_4544

It was an exhausting time so when we needed a break we escaped the ‘board room’ for some fresh air and relaxation…IMG_4538IMG_4537

On a couple of weekends, admittedly feeling a little fenced in by our little field we escaped to Birmingham for some much needed curry and concrete.IMG_4549

During the week, back to the Moreton-in-Marsh field to be close to the team, dressing in our van for the office each day.  Many evenings, drained, we arrived back after most of our campsite neighbours had retired in doors but still with the long summer evenings still had time to relax and enjoy some wonderful evening walks.IMG_4562

and stunning early summer sunsets.IMG_4560

We camped until all was complete in mid June and after a celebration with the new owners of our business in Bideford, we set off home.

One last stop in the camper van, at an aire on the French motorway.  We know how to live the life!IMG_2093

We were both very quiet, processing all that we had  learned and experiences not just over the past seven weeks but seven years.  I felt so proud of what we had accomplished but felt empty too as our involvement with Sheepskin slowly disappeared into sunset…IMG_2096

On the drive south we found we were both feeling the same and agreed we should force ourselves to celebrate, take time to reflect and recognise all we and our team had achieved.  So picked up some Champagne on our way through Champagne and did just that when we got home.IMG_4572After our reflections we agreed; if we were to ever do the same again, we would do the same again!SaveSave

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My reason for writing, from the heart

In starting this journal it feels different than ever before.  I intend it to be not just a record of sights, tastes and experiences but of our feelings and emotions as we travel through life and I hope, to have time to tell the story of how we got here.

My reason for writing and writing from the heart is simply it’s the right time and I feel we have reached an exciting and defining junction.

For Adam this year is one of huge upheaval, it’s been a time of difficult and we know life-changing decisions but necessary and positive decisions as he leaves his role and escape from corporate world.  Leaving behind friends and colleagues that he has inspired and that have inspired him and transformed what I know sometimes felt like a futile, uphill battle into a rewarding and motivating experience.

For me (Helen) as always, challenging, exciting times managing our own business as the team and company strengthen, evolve and grow.

For us both, after four years of living apart during the week, the last of those years in a building site as we renovated our new home (more on that in another blog later), we are stronger than ever.  Confident in our decision to take a break, escape and travel for a while, enjoy time and new experiences together and to let those experiences inspire and mould what we do next…

I anticipate the journey will be a roller coaster adventure and I want to be able to capture it for me and for any like-minded people who find this travel blog and that is my reason for writing from the heart.