Before and After: One Year to Turn a Shed into a Home

Tired of Paris, the man bought an old barn in his native land to make his childhood dream come true: to reconstruct ancient buildings from scratch. The result is incredibly beautiful. You should see it by yourself.

Tired of Paris and work in logistics, Frederic Brillet decided to return to his native land. I bought an old barn to make my childhood dream come true: to reconstruct ancient buildings from scratch.

BEFORE
When Frederick discovered this old barn in April 2017, he didn’t hesitate to sign the purchase papers.

AFTER
Dating from around 1900, the 120 m² building is made from local stone. The south-eastern part of the building was built on a stone foundation and made of oak (beams, cladding boards).

It took about a year for the new owner of the house to obtain building permits for a “change of use,” i.e. converting a farm building into a residential building.

It took a lot of time to find craftsmen who would be interested in preserving the architectural heritage. Frederick did not want to demolish anything and build again – on the contrary: he planned to preserve the building as much as possible, reconstruct the buildings – reconstruct using ancient technologies, using environmentally correct materials.

BEFORE
“The farmer’s grandfather who sold me this barn used it as a barn and hayloft. The building was empty for many years and therefore fell into disrepair. The wood is rotten in places. We had to completely dismantle the cladding and replace some of the beams,” says Frederick.

After reconstruction, the building was connected to the water supply and power grid. For the sewerage system, Frederick chose phytoepuration technology. “Not far from the house, a 3×3 m pool was dug, filled using a special technology with fractions of different sizes, from gravel to sand. Reeds are planted on them. The pump collects waste water from the shower, dishwasher, and sewage, all this is filtered by the “pool”, and the water comes out absolutely clean. It’s a very effective, odorless system,” he explains.

AFTER
The local carpenter and roofer had to work hard: absolutely all the wood from the old siding was sanded down and reused. The new roof was covered with pine siding. Here we see the western facade of the house – Frederick restored the entrance group in a form close to the original.

Frederick literally lived on site: “I rented a house 15 minutes away so that I could be as close as possible during the reconstruction. This is the best way to make sure that the project goes as planned, and not as it suits the builders,” he says.

BEFORE
On the east side the building had a canopy. “Locals call it “estandate”. This part of the barn is always on the east side, and is protected from the elements as much as possible,” explains Frederick.

AFTER
The regional feature was, of course, preserved, but the canopy was made more airy. One of the partitions is now slatted: at the same time it provides air, but blocks the view of the sliding window.

In place of the previous doors to the barn (there were several of them on each side of the building), Frederick installed windows. There are three tall windows with sliding shutters on the south side.

“These windows were inspired by the tobacco drying sheds that can also be found in this region. These are aluminum windows with double glazing,” explains Frederick.

BEFORE
Inside, the barn was divided longitudinally into two parts. On one side there were stalls for cows, on the other side there were stocks of animal feed.

AFTER
After renovation, the house has a kitchen-living room, two bedrooms, a bathroom, a storage room and a small “secret” workshop.

BEFORE
Initially, the barn had an earthen floor, and the walls were blown by winds on four sides. It was necessary to properly insulate the building – floor, walls, ceiling. The layer on the ceiling is the largest – 35 cm of wood wool (the famous toy teddy bears are stuffed with the same filler).

The house has a water heating system, the heart of which is a pellet boiler (the most economical fuel for this region).

 

AFTER
Initially, the owner of the house planned a solid wood floor, but settled on waxed concrete – natural wood is incompatible with water-heated floors. “I don’t regret my choice. Concrete is about 1 cm thick and painted in the mass, over time it becomes patina and is very easy to clean, since it has no joints. And the chosen light shade turned out to be not as easily stained as I had feared,” adds Frederic.

BEFORE
The interior of the barn from the west side before work began.

AFTER
The new interior has a lot of antique items. For example, a wooden table belonged to Frederick’s parents. “I love the simplicity of the shapes and raw materials with an industrial touch that goes well with this farm barn. This is decor that looks like me,” he explains.

Along the perimeter of the building above the rooms there is a small mezzanine – there are additional storage spaces. And the bookcase slides apart and leads to a secret room (the hideout of the owner of the house).

Frederick made a lamp from a birdcage donated by friends. Pay attention to the bunch of keys on the old post – this is a memory of the grandfather of the owner of the house.

 

The bathroom can only be accessed from two bedrooms: This layout is quite common in England, and is called a “Jack and Jill bathroom”.

The wall in the shower and behind the sink is covered in waxed concrete in a slightly darker shade than the floor. The owner highly praises the material for its durability and ease of maintenance.

The mirror once belonged to his mother, and Frederick made the pendant lamps from two old cans he found at his grandmother’s.

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