Couple turn grain store into 'James Bond' home
- Credit: Denise Bradley
A husband and wife who bought a £290,000 corrugated steel grain store in a ploughed Norfolk field have transformed it into a luxury home.
Luke and Klara Hawes may have been ridiculed by friends when they snapped up the ugly, redundant farm building near Reepham as a holiday home. But now, those friends are all queuing up for an invite after the Hawes created a home for tomorrow's people.
And they love living in BlueSky barn so much that they've ditched the holiday home idea, sold up their house in London - and moved to Norfolk with their two boys, 11 and eight.
Mr Hawes, a director of design company PriestmanGoode in London, and his wife, an interior designer at klarahawes.com in Norwich, fell in love with the idea of being in Norfolk. Mr Hawes grew up in Attlebridge and his parents now live near Dereham.
Wanting to escape the Big Smoke, the couple didn't know what kind of house they were planning to create in Norfolk until they saw the grain store.
"I design the inside of aeroplanes, and I did Heathrow's Terminal 5. Most people when they think of barn conversions think of exposed beams and rustic fireplaces but that's not really us," said Mr Hawes.
Once they'd bought the 2.5 acre plot with the steel grain store, they actually spent time living in a campervan parked in the field so they could see where the light fell and got a real feeling for their surroundings.
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"We lived in a Georgian townhouse in Hammersmith, overlooked on every side so we just needed to get used to so much space. Some of it feels a bit like something out of James Bond," said Mr Hawes.
The building was sold with planning permission but the couple needed to create a dwelling with the same 450sqm footprint and in keeping with the surroundings. It was in fact these stipulations which aided their vision to create a home which pays homage to the industrial feel of the agricultural building that was on it. The house is largely new build although uses some original structures and follows the same roofline at the front.
There's a silo shaped structure in the middle and larch wooden louvres or slats which conceal windows and resemble the original store's corrugated steel exterior.
So from the outside, it really doesn't look like a residential dwelling. Inside, it's an architectural wonder with 8m high ceilings and four bedrooms separated upstairs by a glass mezzanine. Porcelain tiles resembling a concrete floor are complemented by plywood on walls and a huge sitting room/kitchen with a 15m long heated swimming pool separated by sliding glass doors.
"We wanted the pool to be an integral part of the house, we can watch the boys from the living room but also we wanted to use it so the air and water temperature are kept constant. We have ground source heating making it very energy efficient," said Mrs Hawes.
An innovative bench around a fitted table is their eating space and off this is a separate TV room/cinema. The kitchen is made up of bespoke black units with no handles.
Outside the Hawes grassed most of the rear so it's big enough for the boys to play football and golf, but created a Mediterranean feel at the side and front with palm trees and beds with an olive tree, rosemary and lavender. Raised beds have vegetables and another separate garden area has been planted as an orchard with apple trees, plum and pear. Much of it overlooks an beautiful old church, which Mr Hawes knew as a child because his father, the Venerable Arthur Hawes, a retired archdeacon, presided there.
"Coming from London, we just wanted to look out over something green," said Mr Hawes. "We called it BlueSky because of the incredible blue skies in Norfolk and also because of the meaning of it as something creative or visionary."