An impressive converted barn in Yorkshire

Instead of fussing about the little things, the owner of this converted barn has used statement lighting, bold artwork and strong colour to create an impressive family home with a warm and inviting aesthetic.

For some, decorating their entire home is a daunting, albeit exciting, challenge. For others, like interior designer Tor Vivian, it is their job. Having moved house eight times in the past 12 years, Tor, her husband, and their children, have finally settled in a 19th-century converted barn near Ripon, Yorkshire.

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Tor Vivian barn


‘When we moved in, we had a bit of an issue with the layout. There was always going to be one room that people would need to walk through so I decided to make this an open-plan kitchen, dining and sitting room. Structurally, we did not knock down many walls but we did convert the garage into a suite of guest rooms, complete with its own boiler, so that we can shut that wing off when no one is staying.

It was actually really easy. I already had a lot of art and furniture so I was designing around that. While I did have budget con­straints, I worked in the same way I would with a client. I created moodboards and drew up room plans but, as I did not want things to be perfect, I was easier to please than most of my clients. Worrying about little things makes me unhappy so by not fussing, it was a relaxing experience,’ explains Tor.


This open-plan space was created to improve the flow of the rooms downstairs, while an oversized pendant highlights the original beams.

Tor Vivian barn

Interior design, Tor Vivian, Tor Interiors,


The island incorporates plenty of storage, freeing up the walls for Tor to display artwork and accessories.

Tor Vivian barn

Island in Stiffkey blue, Estate Eggshell, £60 for 2.5 litres, Farrow & Ball,


Tor’s paintings, bought years before the family moved in, dictated the colour scheme for the open-plan sitting-kitchen-dining room.

Tor Vivian barn

Painting (left) by Andrew Hewkin, Painting (right) by Ralph Hedley,


Tor is proud of her brave choice of strong blue for this space, which creates an ideal backdrop to display favourite pieces. ’Ive been collecting things for years,’ she says. ‘I found this straw peacock in a gallery when I was twenty-one.’

Tor Vivian barn

Walls in Stone Blue, Estate Emulsion, £43.50 for 2.5 litres, Farrow & Ball,


A mix of cushions in a variety of fabrics and textures, including ikats from Uzbekistan and plain belts from Oka, creates an air of comfort.

Tor Vivian barn

Japser pouffe, £149, Swoon Editions, Beni Ourain Berber rug, My Moroccan Store,


Home for Tor and her family is a converted 19th-century barn in Yorkshire.

Tor Vivian barn

Tor Vivian barn


‘I made the wardrobe doors by taking a mirrored screen apart and attaching the panels to MDF,’ says Tor.

Tor Vivian barn

Wardrobe in Skimming Stone, Estate Eggshell. £60 for 2.5 litres, Farrow & Ball.


Despite opting for a more neutral palette, Tor has curated a diverse collection of artwork so that the space retains a strong personality.

Tor Vivian barn

Belgrave opening stool, £630, Claremont Sofa Designs, Stool in Neptune in Husk, £338m, Raoul for George Smith,


Having played it safe with the scheme in her bedroom, Tor chose a daring wallpaper for the bathroom, uniting the two rooms with shades of yellow.

Tor Vivian barn

Belfour wallpaper in Mimosa, £65m, Christopher Farr Cloth,


With the colours of the British and American flags as inspiration, this room has a relaxed charm.

Tor Vivian barn

Wardrobe in Linara in Oxford Blue, £37.50m, Romo, Front cushion in Saphia in Steel, £70m, Designers Guild,


‘I like to think about future needs when designing rooms for children,’ says Tor, who took advantage of the narrow anteroom adjoining her son’s bedroom to create his own den.

Tor Vivian barn

Library wallpaper in Multicoloured, £135.90 a roll, Andrew Martin,


Tor’s love of texture makes this a perfectly crafted and welcoming space. She kept the armchair after discovering it was not quite right for one of her clients.

Tor Vivian barn

Chair in Kayla in Giel, £147m, Manuel Canovas at Colefax and Fowler,

Photography/ Jody Stewart