If you’ve been following along with my blog and vlogs for a while now, you’ve probably seen me mention how much I love my parents’ house. ‘the barn’.
In fact, I love it so much, I even had my wedding reception there.
And a lot of you have commented on it. So I thought I’d tell you the story of how we came to live here. And why it’s so special.
Back in April 2002, when I was fourteen, my parents had put an offer on a house they’d seen and liked. But a friend of my mum’s had called and said that there was a derelict barn, in Great Totham, that wasn’t for sale yet, but she had it on good authority that it was due to go on the market very soon.
Dad managed to get hold of the farmers’ details and arranged to go and meet him.
The barn already had planning permission and after going to visit it (and using a lot of imagination) Mum and Dad pulled out of the other house and agreed to buy the barn!
They had absolutely no experience of renovation or barn conversion, but it was something my Dad had always wanted to do. So they threw themselves in at the deep end.
Throughout the entire process, my Mum kept this scrapbook, including photos, plans, inspiration she’d taken from magazine cuttings and a write-up of each stage of progress.
In July of 2002, we moved out of our average family home and into old, pretty run-down rented accomodation, where we would be staying while the barn was built.
I have to say, Mum remembers this as a really stressful time, but for us oblivious kids, it was all one big adventure and we were so excited!
After various troubles with plans, land ownership, etc. building didn’t begin until 9th September, on a horribly wet and windy British Summer’s day.
On 11th September, Mum wrote “Popped over to the barn. Wow! What a difference. Very scary! Very exciting! Bits are missing and the whole area looks totally different. So much seems to have happened already.”
Reading through the book brings back so many memories.
In the October, there was a hurricane and everything was put on hold. 80 mph winds and trees flying around all over the place meant that no work could be done for a while, which further delayed things. I remember Mum’s friend, who’d found the place for us, calling to tell us she was keeping an eye that the barn didn’t fly away!
At the beginning of November, the first floor went in. And later that month, my Dad, who used to be an electrician, wired up the whole house himself.
On 7th March 2003, the roof went on.
On 9th April, we had confirmation from the council that we could name it ‘Willow Barn’.
On 17th April, exactly a year after they’d originally viewed the barn, the kitchen units went in.
And on 2nd May 2003, we moved into our dream home!
The piggery was still where the back garden should be, the stair arrived moments before our furniture did, we had no phone line, no internal doors and no driveaway to speak of, but we were in. The work could continue on around us.
In the end, the piggery didn’t come down until November and it took almost another year to get everything landscaped and finished. But once the house was liveable, we were able to slow down and Dad did everything bit by bit.
Honestly, I remember the whole process being so exciting, but incredibly stressful for my parents. It was a lifelong goal for my Dad, but I don’t think he’d want to do it again.
And that’s why this house is so special to us. Every little bit is designed by my parents, with the odd bit of input from me and my brothers.
From the smallest detail, like the lucky penny in the brick wall, to the wine rack made out of piping, and the champagne corks nestled in the original barn beams, from all the celebrations we’ve had in this house, the barn is a part of our family.
It’s thanks to this house that I’m obsessed with interiors and renovation programmes.
We’ve lived here now for almost fifteen years. And I say that even though I’ve moved out and live in my own house, with my husband. It’ll always be my home and I don’t think there will ever be another house as special as this one.