The old used in new renovations

Over the last few years there has been an upsurge in making more of what you have rather than splashing cash and moving house. Lots of people are taking control of their own lives and starting businesses they can run from home, making best use of their talents and cutting costs of commuting. If you are doing up an outbuilding, or giving a room in your house a makeover, the first thing used to be flipping through glossy magazines for inspiration and a “look”, then save up for new everything.

Now, it’s very different, there are some fabulously inventive and creative people out there using unusual materials to amplify the history or purpose of their space, or just to be funky. 

One such renovation is “The Workshop”. It’s an old farm workshop, part of Tarrant Llaunceston Farm in Dorset. The farmhouse and cottages are on an organic farm with a biomass indoor pool and free range chickens and are bolt holes of the best variety for people wanting a combination of country and luxury, “The Workshop” has been transformed from a brick box to an intimate wedding venue as well as a bright, clean space available to rent for meetings, training and workshops on everything from yoga and five rhythms dance to photography and willow sculpture.

In the main space, the first thing that strikes you apart from the light and simplicity of wooden rafters is a Malevich like block of corrugated iron beneath the bar hatch, is a practical punctuation of the space with its varnished greyness and evident agricultural wear and tear. Then, when you look up, you see suspended the original prop shaft for the oat mill, phoenixed from a pile of forgotten ways that are often hidden in corners of family farms. 

I love the washrooms, they represent the definition of upcycled juxtaposition; reclaimed horse trough basins, fitted on angle iron framework, corrugated iron clad walls and a magnificent twinkling chandelier! It’s not an obvious combination but all set above a bold tiled floor, it works brilliantly. 

In the entrance lobby, there is another unusual use of old forgotten metal things given a new life by celebrated local sculptor Jo Burchell. A figure striding off to work in the fields, with birds flying away down the corridor. Bolts, plough shears, harrow heads, piston parts and chain, all arranged and welded onto a huge metal sheet then bolted to the wall; he walks from one generation to the next. Take a look at more they have to offer at Llaunceston Farm.

It’s amazing how tightly convention has our tastes shackled sometimes, different choices like these are not only refreshing but inspiring. If you are doing a project, look beyond the obvious, have some fun!

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