Coming soon...a big, beautiful barn conversion for sale for around £1million
One barn conversion in an exclusive development in Little Massingham, West Norfolk, remains to be converted and will go on sale in a few months' time. It will be the biggest, at just under 4000 sqft, and like all others will come with the quality trademark that it was built by the McNamara family. Property editor Caroline Culot took a trip to see more.
I've been writing about Michael McNamara's barns for about as long as I have been writing about property and it's a demanding market as people's expectations of a conversion are high and there are many developers now doing them.
Will Norfolk ever run out of a derelict barn somewhere? Certainly, they come in all shapes and sizes and the development of just four, Middle Farm Barns, in Little Massingham, a pretty little village close to neighbouring picturesque Harpley, has, in my opinion, the McNamara stamp of quality written all over it. Three are reserved and the last is currently being built.
As a result, the images you see are of the completed barns to give an idea of the finish and overall look and not of the barn coming up for sale.
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When you buy a McNamara barn, and I think he and his sons Guy and Ryan and wife Clare, have all earned the right for me to say this, you know that they've gone that extra mile to ensure you are buying something that has been beautifully converted and done so to last. I was invited to see the barns which have been finished and indeed, such is the demand, they are already under offer - but there is one barn still being converted, the largest, and that will be coming up for sale probably around December time, with agents Bedfords.
I was lucky to visit on a really sunny day, helpful to see how bathed in sunlight these homes are, and a lot more pleasant when you are walking around what is effectively a building site to see the barn currently being converted! This barn will boast around 3750 sqft and is the most beautiful brick and flint (with some really large knapped flint pieces) former cattleyard.
When the barns formed part of a working farm, the cattle were driven up through the village and into this yard and barn. The finished product will boast some fabulous exposed brick and flint internal walls and a full height glazed panel. It will have a fantastic kitchen, four bedrooms and four en suites. It is going to come to market for around £1million - a big price tag, but a statement piece in the McNamara's collection.
So why do I wax so lyrical about Mr McNamara's barns? For a start, it's a family business - so it's not just a name above a door but you actually are getting the expertise of the McNamaras, whether it's the older or younger generation. Michael has an instinctive vision for how something should be converted so that it creates a practical, beautiful home. He puts in curves into walls just because they look good, even though they take longer to do and he insists on the finish - look inside a cupboard and you'll find a beautiful oak shelf, for example, which has taken time to do and which no one will ever really see. But it's the quality that counts. His wife Clare is very good at ensuring there are enough sockets and switches - you'll find, for example, sockets on, say, two main walls in a bedroom so you have the choice of where you put the bed. They think really long and hard about what colour to paint walls and what colour kitchen units to install - in the barns I saw, they had opted for a really contemporary grey. Similarly, with the bathrooms and en suites, you've got quality taps and shower fixtures - showers with both rain heads and hand held attachments to accommodate everyone's needs. Mr McNamara also really keeps up with trends - he sourced the contemporary take on the rolled top bath in one of the barns I saw. He also puts in wine fridges as standard - possibly because of his own love of wine!
And then there is lighting. Ryan is very interested in the use of lighting so there are many uplighters to ensure it looks fantastic at night-time and he has also introduced some other quirky but really fascinating features. He used some industrial looking tubing to create stunning outside lights and in one of the kitchens, there is an extractor hood which is really funky, and looks almost like a mini silver spaceship! You have to see it to know what I mean! There is also the custom-made door-stop made from a large chunk of wood with some rope attached. Although there are contemporary touches, the McNamaras also like to remind people of the history of the building they are living in so use plenty of pamments - sometimes as window sills and in one of the barns, over the top of the stairs on the landing, making a really good area to lean on.
Oak is used but one of the staircases was beautifully made in ash, to make the room a little lighter and much attention is given to creating light when there isn't any - spot the 'light tunnels' in one of the bathrooms, for example. And the painstaking attention to detail continues outside where at the new barn there will be steel woven fencing and little garden areas because the McNamaras firmly believe all barns need curtilage.
It probably won't surprise you now to know that when they did the landscaping around the barns which are finished, they put in a little manure at the bottom when digging out - to ensure plants and flowers planted there will grow!
If you are interested in the new barn, contact Bedfords on 01328 730500.