7 ways wood brings character to this smart country home

The natural beauty of wood enhances this barn conversion – and is the go-to choice for all the updated living spaces

kitchen with exposed wooden beams and grey-green painted cabinets with natural wood breakfast bar and pale stone flooring
(Image credit: Jeremy Phillips)

When the owners of an 18th-century, five-bedroom converted barn were looking to extend and update their North Yorkshire home, they felt it was important to retain its rural character and reference its past life as part of a working farm. At the same time, they felt the home would benefit from a more contemporary look and some practical additions to suit their active country lifestyle.  

The changes to the barn have kept the subtle balance between honoring the building's heritage and embracing new comforts. 

There are many reasons why we think this property is a great example of modern farmhouse style. There's a gentle, modern rustic vibe to the whole project, and at the root of it all is the most natural, rustic material of all – wood.

Here are the 7 great ways wood adds character to this renovated country home. 

1. Embrace the beauty of wood – painted and natural

exposed original wooden beams and green painted kitchen with exposed brick walls and open shelves

(Image credit: Jeremy Phillips)

To plan the new look for their extended open-plan kitchen-diner, the homeowners worked with local firm The Main Company, which specializes in handmade kitchens and wooden furniture. The wooden Shaker-style cabinets are painted in soft grey-green shades that echo the colors of the countryside outside. 

But this kitchen is not just about painted wood. The breakfast bar dividing the kitchen and living area was handmade in engineered wood. Bespoke natural oak open shelves were also fitted, and tie in with the exposed original beams and the new breakfast bar. Great tips here, for anyone looking for kitchen ideas to update a rural or period property and for ways to combine painted and natural wood in a kitchen scheme.

2. Create a new look for the stairs

exposed wooden stairs and gallery with glass wall and entrance door behind

(Image credit: Jeremy Phillips)

The stairs at the heart of the barn were originally a brighter, honey-toned wood, as were the doors throughout. All have now been stripped back and stained using darker, more rustic and natural tones a great way to update a tired staircase look, for anyone looking for staircase ideas. The original barn doors have been replaced with a smaller door, and floor to ceiling glass to bring more light in. 

3. Enhance a practical entrance and utility space with painted cupboards

utility space and entrance with fitted green painted cabinets sink and boots on doormat

(Image credit: Jeremy Phillips)

Extending into the garage allowed the homeowners to create a new rear entrance, with a mudroom, utility room and cloakroom at the back of the barn. This space really comes into its own after muddy dog walks. 

4. Smarten up your mudroom storage

boots and coats stored in mudroom with painted wooden shelves with exposed wooden trim and natural wood staircase

(Image credit: Jeremy Phillips)

The painted oak boot room unit was made to order by The Main Company, and the natural wood finishes on the stairs and around the storage unit tie in with the original sections of the barn. Having easy-clean flooring and a place where you can store boots and dry your canine companion is key when designing a mudroom.

5. Enjoy the textures of wood with an indoor log store 

logs stacked in an indoor log store next to a wooden dining table and glass doors with garden views

(Image credit: Jeremy Phillips)

An unusual alcove between the original barn and the new extension creates a handy indoor log store, and another opportunity to appreciate the natural beauty and texture of wood in log form! Aesthetics aside, it's useful to have them to hand to feed the log burner and keep the chilly Yorkshire temperatures at bay. 

6. Showcase characterful exposed beams in the bedroom

exposed wooden beams in vaulted bedroom ceiling with neutral walls and painted furniture and rooflights

(Image credit: Jeremy Phillips)

The vaulted ceiling and exposed beams in the guest room make a dramatic statement, and neutral colors create a relaxing atmosphere for overnight guests. An old wooden bedframe has been stripped back and repainted by The Main Company, with the company's bedside units and a set of drawers to match. All creating a restful scene for those looking in search of bedroom ideas and calm schemes. 

7. Set the scene with simple bathroom paneling

freestanding bath in bathroom with tongue and groove panelled walls and tiled floor

(Image credit: Jeremy Phillips)

Tongue and groove paneling never goes out of favor with those looking for inspiration and bathroom ideas. Here, simple painted wooden paneling is used to enhance the country feel, with a modern freestanding bath and streamlined basin to inject a contemporary twist. 

Karen Darlow
Karen Darlow

I'm the homes editor of Period Living magazine and an experienced writer on interiors and gardens. I've also moved house quite a few times – totting up 10 homes in 12 years during a particularly nomadic time in my life. I like to think that makes me quite the homes expert, or at least very experienced and with a clear idea of what I like and don't like in a home. 

I love visiting and writing about old houses for Homes & Gardens' sister magazine Period Living and working with photographers to capture all kinds of historic properties. It's inspiring to talk to people about their traditional homes and to hear the stories behind their furnishing and decorating choices. And by the time I've finished an interview with a homeowner I've always got a handful of new ideas to try in my own house, as well as plenty of good stories for the magazine. It's the perfect work-life balance.