When a 200-acre parcel in North Yorkshire, England, came up for sale, a local couple in their early 40s jumped at the chance to own a piece of history. The couple, fashion entrepreneurs with a penchant for minimalism, recognized a unique opportunity to combine their contemporary tastes with structures that included a 400-year-old barn and a roughly 250-year-old manor house that is listed as a Grade II historic building by the British government’s English Heritage commission. Carving out a home for themselves and their three young children, however, proved no easy feat.
Link to the Past
The Herculean project of renovating the estate was already one year under way when friends of the owners recommended Fiona Barratt-Campbell, the founder of the design firm Fiona Barratt Interiors. The designer, who was retained for both the interior and the completion of the architecture, says that before the project started, the house “hadn’t been touched since the 1940s.” She quickly determined that preserving the past—and the property’s Grade II historic status—was critical to the master plan. “It was that bad—a one-lightbulb-in-each-room situation.”
Barratt-Campbell, who recently debuted a furniture line and a London boutique called FBC London, spent two years on the construction and interiors before completing the estate in 2010. The finished property’s various structures—the original home, a contemporary glass-and-steel addition, and the historic barn—now total 24,000 square feet of interior space.
The main home is “mostly Georgian,” Barratt-Campbell says, but also incorporates various Tudor and Victorian design elements. The stone house features a spruced-up facade and a walled terrace on the outside, and five bedrooms and separate cinema, dining, reading, television, and living areas inside.
The 4,000-square-foot addition incorporates a small stone house where resident monks once brewed beer. This new space adds an industrial-size kitchen, a dining area, a bedroom, a floating mezzanine with a living area, and a 200-foot-long enclosed walkway with poured concrete floors and steel columns. The walkway opens to the home’s new main entrance and connects to the 10,000-square-foot barn, where, instead of livestock, Barratt-Campbell added a 1,400-square-foot indoor pool, a pool lounge, a small kitchen, changing areas, a gym, and a bar.
Ties That Bind
Like the architecture, the interior melds past and present, with a mix of ample furnishings framed by neutral walls and polished-concrete or stained-oak floors. “With such a big house, a lot of the furnishings are also just huge,” Barratt-Campbell notes.
Sourced from Northumberland, railroad ties are prolific, used for the table and benches in the stone courtyard, the addition’s coffee table, and its more formal dining table, all of which were custom made in the north of England. “I’m from the north of England and very proud of Northerners,” Barratt-Campbell says, “so I like to promote industry there.”
In addition to two 6-foot-long custom blackened-steel pendent lanterns and leather bucket seating, the formal dining area includes an 11-foot-tall painting of one of the client’s thumbprints, produced in text phrases. A more casual dining area is located adjacent to the addition’s kitchen and features a deep-grained oak veneer oval table, leather bucket seating, and an LED pendent light from Refer + Staer.
In the converted barn, original oak trusses offer striking aerial accents against stark white walls. A round stone coffee table in a pool-facing lounge with 23-foot-high ceilings is actually a millstone that was found on the site and topped with black-stained oak. Swimsuit-ready stained-oak benches feature gray open-weave polyester cushions that resist mold and moisture. The space’s eccentrically sized windows are remnants of the days when the British empire was constantly under siege: “They built small windows for protection from invaders and because glass was very expensive,” Barratt-Campbell explains.
Above the kitchen on the barn’s second level, a clear glass Arctic Pear chandelier from Ochre illuminates a stained-oak bar. The low-back oak bar stools upholstered in white leather are from Wychwood Design. A cluster of four 19th-century Chinese nesting tables with black stone tops adds an elegant touch to a lounge area that also includes a custom sofa upholstered in gray faux suede.
The barn originally was built with various nooks that served different agricultural purposes. Barratt-Campbell had no choice but to incorporate the openings into her design. “All windows and doors are listed,” she says, “so we plastered and painted them clean, crisp white.”
In the enclosed polished-concrete walkway, Barratt-Campbell embraced the building’s aged foundation. “This really seamless, very new modern material runs right into these raw, 400-year-old walls,” the designer notes. To strengthen the barn’s structure, steel cable ties are strung among the oak trusses above the polished-cast-concrete pool, which is wrapped in teak decking that houses three stainless-steel waterspouts.
Oak trusses also cross the roof of a bathroom in the new addition. The space, which is located in the former brew-house portion of the structure, features radiant floor heating concealed under limestone tile. The historic setting presented a unique set of challenges for Barratt-Campbell, such as fitting Roman blinds into windows that have stone mullions nearly 2 feet thick.
It took 17 men and the removal of a window to install a pair of nearly 10-foot-tall black mirrors—from a 19th-century Venetian palazzo—in the main house’s formal living area. The stone fireplace comes from France, and the sculpture on the railroad-tie coffee table is by Joseph Cals. Nearly everything else is custom, from the silk-and-suede rug and glazed-linen-and-lace curtains to the polyester/cotton-upholstered sofas and velvet-upholstered chairs with linen and silk cushions.
The main house (above) was constructed over a period of time, and its facade pairs large-format sandstone on one side with brick-size stones on the other. In the structure’s library, a fireplace keeps its Victorian grate and carved stone mantel. The seating area includes a 19th-century black-lacquered wood-composite Chinese table and a custom linen sofa.
A 16-foot-long bronze wall distinguishes a second fireplace in the main house, where two Fendi chairs face a Christian Liaigre coffee table, also bronze. (Four fireplaces at the estate are gas; another three burn wood.) Additional seating in the room comes in the form of an L-shaped Poliform sofa, accompanied by a stacked resin Mrs. Lot side table from Julian Chichester and a Chinese coffee table.
Willowlamp’s stainless-steel-and-brass Faraway Tree chandelier dominates the main house’s dining area, where faux-suede chairs pull up to a custom stained-oak table.
While the white-painted oak paneling that leads to the home’s main staircase (opposite) is original, the high-gloss stained-oak flooring is new. “What was there was just barely existing,” Barratt-Campbell notes. A new oak tabletop at the base of the stairs pairs with an antique cast-iron base from France. “It’s lovely to work with old elements and bring them to life again,” she adds.
Upstairs, in the 1,500-square-foot master suite, sand-hued linen upholsters a paneled headboard in the master bedroom. The soft viscose carpet extends to the dressing room, where a custom vanity with a cowhide stool conceals a mirror embossed in leather. An ottoman, also upholstered in linen, doubles as a storage container, and all wardrobes are custom. “These really beautiful drawers with glass fronts let you see everything inside,” Barratt-Campbell says.
Comfort and convenience take precedence in the master bath, where stainless-steel hot boxes keep towels warm and two steps lead to his-and-her showers. “I always try and do two—it is a necessity,” Barratt-Campbell explains. Two can likely also fit in the custom bathtub, which—at 7 feet long and 5 feet wide—is a palatial retreat in its own right.