CONVERTED! RESTORATION GIRL EXPOSES MYSTERIOUS FEATURES AT FARMAGEDDON

Type hashtag #barnconversion into Instagram if you dare……

And here’s me thinking that Farmageddon was post-apocalyptic. There are some pretty extreme builds going on out there, but if there’s one thing to say about my new community of Barn Buddies: they sure do have vision. For BB’s, even the most humble, crumbling, asbestos-choked hovel is ripe for miraculous conversion. There is nothing BB’s love more than that exquisite flicker of horror crossing the faces of the uninitiated. I love our motley crew.

The BB’s got me thinking about why some people enjoy working with barns and agricultural buildings. Perhaps part of the fun of renovating a barn is uncovering pieces of its industrial past and repurposing them beautifully into the building. I thought it would be fun to share some of these architectural features and how we’re working them into our design at Farmageddon.  (Plus a few little progress photos at the end… 😉

VENTILATION SLITS (“ARROW SLITS”)

When our barns were built in the 18th and 19th century, they were often stacked to the gunnels with loose hay and straw stacks. The ventilation slits were incorporated to stop the haystacks heating up and spontaneously combusting.  We have a number of these arrow slits at first floor level, and we were excited to uncover a couple more.

We’re glazing the historic arrow slits to create little features dotted around the house. We love them so much, we’ve borrowed the principle to create new arrow slit-style windows where there were no openings previously. Where “housey” windows were originally designed, we created industrial, arrow slits in steel – I can’t wait for these to be fitted!

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HORSE ENGINE MILL

In the early twentieth century, the horse engine at Farmageddon was used to mill grain for feed and other uses. The horse would walk around a wheel which in turn powered various bits of kit. The only remaining evidence is the enormous oak beam in what will be our office. The beam had to be substantial in order to support the horse engine equipment; the tree was literally hewn down, bark still intact, and placed in the barn.

 

We love this beast and we are featuring it above a new exposed stone wall in the office, treating it to a gentle wash and scrub to bring out the colour of the oak and to preserve the bark and gorgeous gnarly bits!  Work in progress….

 

 

BREWHOUSE/WASHHOUSE

What a bonus – a potential micro-brewery in our garden! The former piggery-cum-stables-cum-henhouse contains evidence of many little cottage industries. Inside the end room is a fireplace with a copper above and a wee chimney – perhaps evidence of a little brewhouse used for domestic beer brewing (or it could have been a little washhouse). According to Historic England, few examples of these remain so we are pretty excited to have one here at Farmageddon.

 

These buildings will eventually be preserved and used for garden/domestic storage, a kennel and maybe a henhouse.

CART SHEDS AND COACH HOUSE

Some of my favourite features of this place are the beautiful cart shed doorways with their magnificent arched brick piers.   The larger door may have been a coach house – in fact a picture exists from the late 1800s of the farmer Mr Teasdale in front of these very doors with a resplendent horse and coach.

The arches are central to our design and will be host to some pretty funky steel windows which will be uplit in all their glory.

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http://www.timelessliving.be/Pages/index.php

PREACHING TO THE CONVERTED

Every visit to Farmageddon converts me.   Perhaps I’m becoming immune to the chaos or perhaps we are making genuine progress. Either way, it’s true love.

 

Until next time, Kat xx

 

Gazooks – when will we have a roof!?

Restoration Girl is like a pig in muck (and muck there is aplenty).  Never has there been a better time to educate oneself in the finer points of pointing. Or to get the facts about lats. Or debate about rebates. Or get hardcore about, um, hardcore.

FIVE MONTHS IN……

My how the time has flown! Five months in, how are we getting on?  How are we holding up? Well… at the risk of summoning the apparition of Sarah Beeny, we are so far ON TIME and ON BUDGET. Hooray!

Ok, so it all still looks like a magnificently well- appointed, deceptively spacious drugs den.  But I am starting to imagine living here :-):

Restoration Girl drugs den?
Drugs den?

So let’s check out the progress. Here’s the time lapse, laser display, high definition slow mo sequence coming atcha……

PARTY ROOM

KITCHEN

This is the view of the large granary towards the kitchen end….

MUSIC ROOM

I’ve always wanted a (sound insulated) room to slay some Debussy  in.   This is how the room was when we started (and now we’ve wrecked it!!):

A bit untidy but showing potential…

There’s lots more to see in my next post including dramatic footage for all you roofing fanatics out there. 🙂  Thanks for reading!

Until next time,

Kat xxxxx

Three Girls Orchard Apple Juice (our juice is surprisingly yummy hurray!)

If only our three girls would all look the same direction for one photo, let alone an entire photoshoot! However they are the rather naughty and positively defiant inspiration for our little Yorkshire apple juice brand.  600 kilos of fruit from the orchard was heroically harvested by our good friend Geoff who spent a week picking amongst warbling pheasants, brooding hens and clucking builders :-).

(The famous Three Girls helped last year so I promised to put in some pictures of them):

The fruit was delivered to the lovely Joe at Yorkshire Wolds Juice and he worked his magic……

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Milling the apples and hey Pressto….
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Filling up the fine nectar!

 

 

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Juice coming off the line….

 

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Bottles pasteurising, capped and ready to go.

 

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491 Bottles of Three Girls Orchard Apple Juice

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Yummy!  So, what does Three Girls Orchard Juice taste like?  I think it tastes of Yorkshire.   It’s bold, it’s brassy, its sharp and honest and it’s full of taste :-).

Until next time…..  Kat xxxx

 

 

Raising the Roof!

‘Twas Restoration Girl’s birthday and what better way to celebrate but crawling over roofs, wading in mud and porting a fetching high vis birthday suit.  This little post is a mini-update on progress….it’s that exciting phase of demolition where every time you go to site, something new and important has happened. And something new and a bit scary is revealed….

First the good news.  The roof is coming off and we’ve not yet found any nasties besides the usual (but WTF….when demolished, the place looks exactly like the attic in The Blair Witch Project.  Minus the creepy red handprints.  Eeek!)

The walls are coming down too, revealing some beautifully proportioned spaces.  With the sunlight streaming in, I can really imagine feeling warm and cosy living in these rooms.

The internal stone work is going to look fabulous when repointed – I’m so excited about that.

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But it looks like we’re going to have to underpin part of the large granary barn because the foundations are too shallow.  I’m amazed that these gorgeous old places haven’t fallen down over 300-odd years and of course they are all built directly onto the mud which always comes as a shock to us modern-era types.

It’s been an eventful week!  Thanks for reading dear friends.  Next time we’ll take a break from covering the build and talk about a new, yummy little sideline at Farmageddon ♥.

Until next time… Kat xxxx

And they’re off….!

RG is currently drinking a celebratory train beer on the way back from Yorkshire. “Official” building work has finally begun at Farmageddon.

There has, of course, been “unofficial” building work going on for a while but this has mostly involved RB hiring a digger to move large mounds of earth from one side of the farmyard, um, to the other. Although it was gratuitous fun for RB, we’ve now moved into a new phase of [arguably] forwards progress….. ♥

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MOVING OUT DAY

It’s been moving out day for some of the Farmageddon community. Our Polish builder “guardians “(four or five or ten of them) have moved out of the farmhouse and although it’s going to take a JCB to remove their impressive collection of empty Zywiec cans, they have been fabulous tenants. They’ve never called us to change a lightbulb. In fact, they even installed their own two-tonne biomass boiler when ours got nicked.   I shall miss them.

They have also left a legacy of rather potent-looking herbs in the greenhouse. The random caravan, three broken-down dishwashers, four old-school TVs, the comedy PolSat dish (I swear it receives from the Hubble), oil drum barbeque, some experimental taxidermy (scary) and innumerable battered leather sofas have also been evicted. Farmageddon is sadly less well-appointed now.

The lone Farmageddon bat is also moving out to his new luxury bat pad.   The owls and house martins have already taken offence at the all-pervasive smelly sock whiff in the farmhouse and have fled to the trees.   Now it’s just us……and four or five or ten builders. Dé jà vu

TAKING STOCK

So here we are. Two years into the adventure and allegedly 15 months away from move-in date. Let’s take stock of what we’ve done so far….

  1. Moved some mounds of earth around
  2. Knocked down a load of sheds
  3. Dug up several hundred tonnes of concrete
  4. Built a man cave shed (impressive)
  5. Moved some mounds of earth around.
  6. Had twins
  7. Brought in two harvests
  8. Destroyed a neighbour’s barley field (escaped heifers – doh!!)
  9. Were the victims of a major scrap heist
  10. Hired an architect
  11. Sacked an architect
  12. Hired a new fantastic architect
  13. Hosted a christening and a caravan rave
  14. Scrounged repeatedly from DEFRA
  15. Moved some mounds of earth around
  16. Made some friends ♥

I’ll leave you with some photos of Farmageddon as she stands today.

Until next time…Kat xxx

SHEDDDDDDDD!!

This one’s for the boys….

After several years of emasculation living with 6 females, Restoration Boy has gone to extremes and built himself a Man Cave Deluxe.  I mean, it has all the bling.  Three-quarters Yorkshire boarding, three tastefully rounded, roller-shuttered entrances, skylights, mid-grey concrete panelling, electricity, water, galvanised steel thingies…and everything.   Even RG has to admire its sheer scale and adaptability.  It even has room for RB’s broken-down forklift (or ten).

Farmageddon Shed Man Cave https://restorationgirl.org
Farmageddon Shed Man Cave Panoramic View

The shed apparition has been greeted by our neighbouring farmers with a thorough teeth-sucking and an “aye, ees spent a few bob” flicker in their eyes.  Thank goodness for agricultural government grants I say!  It’s already coming in darn useful for storing grain, children’s scooter races and sheltering from the Yorkshire weather.  Things are on the up at Farmageddon!

 

Until next time (when we raise the roof!)….

Kat xxxx

Harvest Hippies

Last week we began our harvest at Farmageddon.  Restoration Boy was in orbit.  Even RG had a little “moment”.  As we watched the combine devouring the barley that we (actually our lovely neighbour!) had sown all those months ago, some new thoughts settled with the dust. Perhaps it was the balm of a harvest sunset or perhaps I’d just taken too many Clarityn :-).  But for the first time, I was beginning to truly love this place.

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Farmageddon’s grains have been sold this year for whisky, beer and biscuits.   Result.

Harvest felt like a natural cause to celebrate.  We partied like Pagans.  In an Airstream.  At the top of a muddy field.  The only thing we were missing were some standing stones and a ritual sacrifice (not strictly true – the bbq sausages got pretty toasted).

We watched the Yorkshire sun set and went for midnight walks by the river.   We lit fires and camped out under the sky.  We went on an ancient tree quest. We started to get closer to the soil, to discover Farmageddon’s nooks and crannies; the farm was slowly unfurling itself to us. I feel like a sense of trust is developing between us and the farm; as she sees that we seek to take care of her, and love her, so she reveals more of her wild beauty to us.  The more we sow and reap from this place, the more gratitude we feel towards it.  So this adventure has brought us city dwellers some insights into humanity’s deep attachment to the land, and in doing so, perhaps I understand a little more about how human beings develop such an indelible feeling of home.

Until next time, Kat xxx

Restoration Girl’s Barn Beauties: The Dutch Barn

After ten years of [happy] marriage to Restoration Boy, Restoration Girl had forgotten how to simper.  But recently she’s stumbled upon some darn beautiful barn conversions which have provoked an involuntary, one could almost say – coquettish –  smile.

Why, I hear you ask, are you obsessed by Barns, RG?  Well, where else but in a barn can you create such dramatic living with such cosy, country features?  Where else can the imagination of architects and their clients take flight amongst the age-bleached rafters?   Where else can craftsmen of niche traditional trades get so much job satisfaction?  Where else can Restoration Girl waste this many hours on Pinterest?

The challenge with barns is how to feel like you’re living in warmth and light like a human being, on a human scale, with human conveniences in a building that was definitely not designed for human habitation.

Architect Joep van Os has manned up to that very challenge – let’s have a gander at his beautiful conversion in the Netherlands….. Continue reading

Restoration Girl and The Nature Caper

Today I was up at the farm meeting the sparky. We were talking about home automation, hyper-connectivity, 4K, Internet of things, Lutron and a whole host of man-made control systems designed to conquer chaos……And as we walked through the barns I realised that in fact we were not (and probably would never be) quite in control of this wonderful, wild place.

In fact, what has struck me most about the farm is that Nature is in control of every moment of every day and we can never quite keep her at bay (and nor would we ever want to).

A THORNY PROBLEM

Let’s cut to the chase – basically, Restoration Girl has a problem with weed.

Specifically, a towering, tangled, stinging  morass of weeds that would shock Charlie Dimmock out of her bra.  Those swaying, gnarly, monster-plants have been known to drag grown adults into the undergrowth with their triffid-like tentacles.    Ok, so that was a little over the top.  But I got a nasty sting on my poor wittle toe.

But somehow, they are beautiful too.  When I am not being spiked and stung by the blighters just to get to the back door, I can appreciate the wild elegance and incredible resilience of these vibrant imposters.   Continue reading

Can Industrial be Cosy? Restoration Girl on Belgian Style

THE PIPE DREAM

This is the dream – to raise from the crumbling dusts of Farmageddon, a happy, welcoming, contemporary rustic space for our family and guests; the type of setting in which people feel deliciously warm and at home but still has a bit of industrial bite.  No-one does happy industrial better than the Belgians (and they do a right good pint too).

BELGIAN BELLES

During an extraordinary year living and working in Antwerp, I got lucky.   I managed to blag an interview with Ann Demeulemeester and Axel Vervoordt, the pioneers of understated, modern Belgian style.  My head was turned by their mode of simple luxury; the warmth of blonde wood punctuated by the gentle brutality of dark steel, acres of timber, soft industrial lighting, curvaceous stone fireplaces, loose-covered linen sofas, steel windows, classical art, reclaimed objets and greige..….blisssss.

Belgium is a small country that punches well above its style weight…. Do you think this’ll go down alright in Yorkshire?

VIVE LE BARN

Friends, let’s gawp at some piccies…….Firstly the sitting room:

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