ISLE OF GUERNSEY — As a child, Julia Martin loved visiting the aviary next door to an old barn dating back to the 15th century. At the time she never paid much attention to the neglected building, and certainly never imagined calling it home. But about 25 years later home it became, and not before it was renovated by a local architect.
A Cottage in Stone and Glass
Together with her husband, Rick Martin, the couple chose the barn, here on the rocky coast of Guernsey, one of the Channel Islands off of the coast of Normandy, France, as their first family home.
Ms. Martin, 33, who runs her own recruiting business and Mr. Martin, 38, the creative director for a marketing and design company, grew up on opposite sides of the island, but only met 10 years ago through mutual friends. They had spent over 18 months looking for a house. But in 2008, they knew the old barn was perfect the moment they walked in.
“We took about three steps inside and said, ‘Yes, we’ll have it,’ ” Mr. Martin said. Within a few months, they had bought the 3,500-square-foot house for 895,000 pounds, or $1.4 million at $1.53 to the pound, and moved in.
The barn was refurbished by Jamie Falla, an architect in Guernsey, who transformed the granite, dark structure by adding a glass extension to the back, giving almost every room access to the garden. Adding to the lightness of the renovation are resin and recycled glass floors.
In the spirit of recycling, the couple plan to make the house increasingly eco-sustainable. Photovoltaic solar panels will be installed later this year; new insulation was installed to help make the building more energy efficient.
“The recession has meant we’ve had to coordinate a revolving set of works, rather than doing everything at once,” Mr. Martin said.
For furniture, they kept a dining table that the architect had left behind, made of wooden panels. They decorated the open-plan kitchen with plants, a painting from a vacation to South Africa and a framed modern piece they bought from the Tate gallery shop. The shiny Poggenpohl
refrigerator, a German kitchen company, is spacious enough for Mr. Martin to cure strips of bacon safely out of the reach of their pet cat, Yoda.
The guest bedroom, which also doubles as an office for Ms. Martin, features an wooden-framed bed designed by Mr. Martin. Here a glass wall opens into the front garden.
The glass theme continues through a transparent passage (with glass walls, floors and ceilings) connecting the extension to the original building.
In the new extension are the bedrooms. The master bedroom is simply decorated, but the glass wall gives it a feeling of suspension as it overlooks the garden. A high fence and leafy expanse shelter the grounds. In the garden is a vegetable patch and trees bearing apples, cherries and figs.
The living room is lit with industrial-style spot lights. White leather sofas face the newly restored fireplace and a flat-screen television, while a library along the far wall offers a quieter form of entertainment.
“One thing we have discovered about the house,” Ms. Martin said, “is that everyone who visits has something to say about it, whether good or bad.
We love it.”