When David McLaren started hunting for a new home in rural Oxfordshire, he had a very specific set of requirements in mind. He wanted a house that was quiet and private, with high ceilings and a generous sense of space. After a four-year search, he came across a barn at the end of a country lane, with just the sense of calm that he was after.
‘The number of properties that can actually yield big living spaces in the countryside is quite limited,’ says David. ‘So it was difficult to meet all of those requirements. I also wanted a sense of vertical space after living in a period house with low ceilings for 24 years. I knew a barn was likely to have the right kind of feel.’
The location and setting of Park Corner Barn were perfect. Plus, it came with stables, offering a separate living space for when his four children and their families come to stay. The problem was that the barn had already had conversion work done on it in the Nineties.
While its original structure was sound, much of the sense of volume that David hankered for had been lost within a warren of sub-divided spaces.
‘I didn’t like what had been done to it,’ he says. ‘I knew that everything I wanted was still here, just buried.’ Walking around with the floor plans, David could see that by taking down walls and partitions, he could recover the sense of space that was so important to him. And he knew just the right architect for the job: his son, Luke McLaren, a principal at McLaren Excell Architects. ‘The original work wasn't done sensitively,’ says Luke. ‘We had to strip the building right back.’
To read the full article, pick up the September/October 2016 issue of The Selfbuilder, out on September 12 2016.