28th Oct 2020
Returning to Lower Beech Farm for a second build project was a happy event for the Barr Group - given that being invited back generally means a good job was done the first time round! Lower Beech Farm is a charming grade II listed Oxfordshire residence, in which, like many heritage properties the kitchen was built to stay cool. As a result, there was minimal natural light and not a great deal of space. In terms of layout, there was plenty of room for a cosy supper but not enough for a larger (post-Covid!) gathering. The solution was to extend the garden facing side of the kitchen by building out from an existing 1980’s addition, providing a joining point for the new structure whilst minimising complicated listed buildings hurdles.
The design concept from Morgan Architecture was inspired by an existing curved stone feature wall, which became the line guide for the extension. The curved corner talks to the softly rounded thatch of the main house, which was thought to be built in the early 1600s. The old plain-tiled roof of the later 18thC lean-to joins seamlessly into the new section, with matched tiles, brick plinth and plasterwork detailing. The new roofline breaks to reveal the first-floor windows above, mirroring the distinctive ‘broken hat’ style of the main thatch.
Inside, the carefully considered extension gives a surprising sense of space and light - in no small part due to the inclusion of casement French doors and half vaulted ceiling. Classic panelled style cabinetry by Barr Kitchens is hand-painted, with quarter round bevelled detailing. The curved feature wall draws through to the inside space, where the cabinetry follows its arc-ed line. The installation is complemented by a curved painted timber shelf above and work surface with tiled up-stand shaped to fit.
The warm oak timber island top and window sills balance the cool white Caesarstone worktop. Armac Martin polished chrome fixings align with a stainless steel range (clients own) and the Kohler ceramic undercounted sink is flanked by a simple Perrin and Rowe tap set. The old flagstone floor was carefully matched to the original, as was the rolled limestone plasterwork, making the transition from old to new almost imperceptible. Everything about the new structure and inside space is quiet and uncluttered, allowing the architecture of the original farmhouse and its newly extended form to speak for itself.
Our client is delighted with the finished project and as a result, so are the Barr Group team. We would love to return to Lower Beech Farm one day, to continue it's carefully considered architectural journey. A few years ago the Oxford restauranteur Jon Ellse fed back to us “I judge the performance of my restaurants on whether people recommend to their friends and whether they return for more and I would apply both in the positive to the Barr Group”. Since then we have used the same principle in measuring our own performance, with a positive result we hope, in the case of Lower Beech Farm!