Barn Conversion Layout Ideas

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Thinking of taking on a barn conversion project?

Thinking of taking on a barn conversion project? The internal layout is one of the most important steps in realising your dream home. The importance of a good internal layout is key to a successful barn conversion project, both in terms of creating a beautiful and functional space and gaining planning approval. Here we talk you through the types of barn conversions that we specialise in.

Finding inspiration for barn conversion can be inherently difficult as the shape, size, and type of agricultural structure vary hugely, even within the same area. With this in mind, we’ve selected a short guide on what to consider when looking at some of the more common types of barns. Whether you’re looking to update a barn with a modern layout and efficiencies, or wondering how your big modern agricultural building could work as a home, these barn conversion ideas will demonstrate what can be achieved, as well as provide design inspiration.

What makes barn conversions popular?

Barn conversions have become popular for many reasons. They are great investments, whether your main purpose for the barn is to convert it to a family home for yourself or to sell. Secondly, most barn locations are in rural areas, making them ideal for anyone who wants to get away from city life.

Whether the barn conversion is of a stone and timber barn or steel agricultural structure, they can become architecturally outstanding conversions inside and out.

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Our top tips for converting your barn and getting the layout right


  • Obtaining a detailed site and building survey of the existing structures from a surveyor- This is very important and provides the Architect with the correct and relevant information to work with. It allows the Architect to see exactly what space they must work with, which brings me nicely on to the next point 
  • Work with the existing structure and openings as much as possible, if new openings are necessary, then keep them small and in proportion with the rest 
  • Understand the key planning constraints of the Local Authority 
  • Where possible create double-height open plan spaces that expose beams and trusses 
  • Try to take advantage of the views of the countryside where possible  
  • Keeping elements of exposed stone walls helps to keep the original character
  • Keep the layout simple and stylish   
Corner Window Interior Barn
Barn Interior Log Burner
Timber Interior Barn with Fire Square
Exposed Steel Interior

Barn Conversion Architect

Working with an architect can help to realise your conversion dream. At Nord Barn our specialist team of Architect’s and Planning Consultants can guide you through the design, planning and construction process, whether you are converting a small traditional barn or a large agricultural modern steel barn. The first thing is to establish your project brief, which is your wish list for your project in terms of what is important to you and how you like to live. Secondly, try to establish your overall budget, having this information early on can help the architect design a scheme which is realistic to your budget.

Modern Barn Conversion Layout

Converting a steel portal frame barn is very different from converting a small stone barn, both in terms of planning constraints and the layout. When applying for a Class Q application for a steel agricultural barn there are many limitations on what they allow and do not allow. For example, adding a first floor is generally not accepted, even if there is enough height and space, due to having a maximum total floor area parameter the local authority state.

Many agricultural barns are very large so making use of the height by having double height spaces works well for the main living areas. Introducing recessed areas can create an interesting layout whilst also providing shading to help reduce solar gain if you have a lot of glazing. Modern agricultural barns have large rectangular openings with large barn doors. Utilising these openings as a double height entrance or if the large opening looks out over the countryside views, then it is a good idea to recess the glazing and making this part of the main open plan living space works well.

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Barn conversion

Traditional Barn Conversion Layout

When converting a traditional barn, it is important to assess what is already there, try to work with the existing barn and the existing openings. Keeping the layout simple but practical is also important. For example, when coming in from a long country walk it’s good to have a boot room to put wet/ dirty wellies and boots. Incorporating vaulted ceilings with exposed existing beams or trusses can help to keep the character of the building whilst making the space feel larger and lighter. An open plan living, dining and kitchen works well as most barns are linear in form, plus it helps to bring in light and help make the space feel larger. The sketch of a barn conversion layout we worked on shows how open plan living spaces can work, in this layout even the stairs are open within the living space and can become a feature too.

Small Barn Conversion Layout

Small traditional barn conversions can be the most difficult to design a layout for. So, depending on what the intended use of the small barn is going to be for, having a realistic brief is important. For example, even the smallest barn footprint can become something cosy and quaint as a holiday let or annex that has everything you need. Such as the sketch opposite, it has been divided into living space on one side and bedrooms on the other, with a good-sized entrance hall and cloak storage. The main thing to consider when converting small barns, whether they are stone or brick built is that you will need to add internal wall insulation to the existing walls to meet current building regulations. This can eat into the limited space available.

Barn Conversion Layout
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