Got a conversion to do? Building project? Got questions? Need Answers? Offering a product or service? Visit our forum...

My Barn Conversion

Login

canadian pharmacy
About | Shop | Privacy | Forum | Gallery | Contact Us

Design pattern implementation – stairs

Category: Barn Conversion Journal January 23rd, 2012 by mbc

A discussion over on Reddit prompted me to revisit my thinking in relation to design patterns and their contribution to the design of the conversion of the barn. (For a more detailed discussion of design patterns please see my post on A Pattern Language.)

The discussion on Reddit is titled ‘Why hasn’t Christopher Alexander been more influential for architects?‘ and linked to an old article on Slate.com that is a discussion of Christopher Alexander’s work, design patterns and the lack of attention paid to this work in the current training of architects. My personal take on why architects aren’t more greatly influenced by Alexander and his work is that (to quote from my Reddit comment)…

“architects aren’t generally keen on Alexander for reasons of ego – they don’t want to share the ‘glory’ of their designs with anyone else”

…a sweeping generalisation and uncharitable to boot, but the Reddit discussion, coupled with a comment from vasislos a who said ‘it would be interesting to see pictures of how you’re applying the patterns’ restarted my thinking on patterns and led to this post.

My use of patterns evolved through a couple of iterations – my choices in November 2007 and updated in September 2010.

So, I thought a review of my previous lists with some discussion of my own implementations of the selected patterns would be in order, I’ll start with two patterns that sit closely together.

125 Stair seats.
Seats on stairs provide a vantage point, but don’t remove the sitter from the action.
133 Staircase as a stage.
A flared bottom step gives the stairs a function that may otherwise be overlooked.

From Barn Conversion 2012

I can’t claim that these patterns were a great design leap forward or a difficult implementation, but these are powerful and worthwhile. Due to the openness of the ground floor of the barn and the just off centre positioning of the stairs the bottom step is a comfortable, accessible and central place to sit within the main open plan area of the barn. Implementing these patterns was a case of ensuring that the staircase itself was positioned centrally, that the bottom couple of steps provided a suitable place to sit for people of varying heights (as most sets of step do) and that the bottoms of the stairs remained an unclutter, open and defined space in its own right.

Posted in Barn Conversion Journal | No Comments » « Leave Yours
Tags: , , ,

Building shelves to fit under the stairs

Category: Barn Conversion Journal November 24th, 2011 by mbc

My first proper foray into DIY carpentry at the barn has been constructing a shelving unit to sit under the stairs. The shelves are required to provide storage, box in the under-stairs area and muffle the sound from the under-floor heating pumps.

The timber I chose was basic off-the-shelf stuff from B&Q – planed smoothed softwood boards. My original intention was to paint or stain the wood so the appearance of the untreated wood wasn’t of great importance. However, once finished I’m relatively happy with the finish of the wood and the gentle contrast between the whitened oak of the stairs and the clean pine boards of the shelves so untreated they will remain.

I toyed with the idea of attempting fancy joints, inspired by sites such as The Joiners Apprentice beautiful hand-cut dovetails tempted me. But fear of my abilities held me back and instead I decided upon using simple dowelled butt joints for the corners and dado dowel joints for the shelves. I’ll save fancy joints for a future project. I’ve put together this Sketchup model to demonstrate my shelf joints.

You can download this model from my Sketchup library – Dado dowel joint model.

The space the shelving unit needed to fit is pretty standard and similar spaces are found in most homes with traditional staircases. The forty five degree slope of the stairs almost forms a triangle, the exception being the vertical edge of the bottom step. Geometrically in 2D the shelf unit, viewed from the front or back is a quadrilateral trapezium.

The under-the-stairs area had become a pretty handy dumping group for tools, left over materials and my sons toys so a general clearout was in order prior to commencing work.

From Barn Conversion 2011
From Barn Conversion 2011

I started by cutting the four ‘sides’ for the ‘outer’ structure and then the three shelves. The side pieces were cut to exact measurements and the shelves cut longer than necessary to allow for trimming to the correct length later. The two vertical ‘side walls’ have bevelled tops, cut at 45 degrees on which the sloping top sits. Similarly, the shelves have one perpendicular end and one bevelled end, the bevelled end meeting the sloping top of the shelving unit. I did all this cutting with a combination of my circular saw and a borrowed table saw that is stuck at 45 degrees!

I then used my router to cut the three dado joints into tallest side wall. I had a cutter that was almost wide enough to allow me to cut the full width of each dado in a single pass. I clamped wooden guides in place, cut the dado then widened slightly with a hand-saw, then used a small chisel and sand paper to tidy up. One of the dados ended up deeper than intended as the guide for the router depth had worked lose so a little remedial filling with a sliver of wood was necessary.

I then drilled and glued the dowels in place – two per joint. The trickiest joints were those holding the sloping top in place. I eventually settled on drilling straight through both pieces of wood from the top straight down into the upright rather than drilling one side of the joint then marrying it up with the other side and drilling the ‘recieving’ hole.

From Barn Conversion 2011

The final job was to fix the back panels for which I used some external plywood I had left over from boxing in the eaves. The ply had a surprisingly pleasing finish to it so it has remained untreated like the rest of the wood-work. I had already spaced the shelves in such a way that they would cover the joints between the panels, so I simply tacked the back panels into place.

I also built a small rectangular insulation lined box to cover the heating manifold and pumps which I slipped into place before positioning the shelves. The main job of this was to muffle the sound made by the under-floor heating paraphernalia when it was in operation, a job in which it has pretty much failed and that I’ll need to address again at a later date.

From Barn Conversion 2011

From there it all came together – some liberal filling and sanding helped me to paper over the cracks of my inexperienced cutting.

Despite having planned to make the shelves a centimetre or so narrower and shorter than the gap they were to fit in, my measuring went awry somewhere along the line and they turned out to be a very snug fit. Some gentle bashing and a couple of wedges was all that as needed to fix the shelves into place.

Overall I’m pretty pleased with the results.

From Barn Conversion 2011

I’ve prepared Sketchup model of the shelves that you might like to take a look at….

You can download this model from my Sketchup library – Under stairs shelving unit model.

Posted in Barn Conversion Journal | 2 Comments » « Leave Yours
Tags: , , , ,

Carpentry

Category: Barn Conversion Journal November 4th, 2011 by mbc

Over the last couple of years I’ve kept on returning to the question of carpentry. Not in a general sense, but specifically in relation to my ability to turn my hand to the following projects:

  1. Build shelves under the stairs,
  2. Box in the thermal store and build a cabin bed in the second bedroom,
  3. Build a high level, long, wide shelf in the kitchen,
  4. Put up shelving in the utility room.

…OR the alternative of hiring a professional. A steady accumulation of tools over the period (chisel, hand saws, a circular saw, jigsaw and sander then most recently a router and whole array of cutters) has pushed me to test my skills or risk losing face and admitting to recklessly buying ‘boys toys’.

Just to set the record straight (and start work on any future defence of my position) I’ve not been recklessly or pointlessly buy these tools. I have been putting them to use – boxing-in pipe work in the bathrooms (and there has been a lot of boxing-in to do as the fittings were moved around from their planned locations due to my wayward planning and purchasing), fitting skirting boards, oak floors and trim between the stairs and floor. But there is still plenty more work for them to do.

As a proof of the concept that I’m up to doing all this woodwork, I’ve made a start on the shelves under the stairs.

Step 1 – THE SHELVES UNDER THE STAIRS

(Quite an ominous title that one).

From Barn Conversion 2011

The purpose of the shelves is two-fold, to provide storage but perhaps more importantly, to box-in and tidy up the under-stairs area including hiding the unsightly under-floor heating manifold.

Having drawn up the plans (incorrectly as it transpired) and bought the wood I started work

Posted in Barn Conversion Journal | 2 Comments » « Leave Yours
Tags: , , ,

My Favourite Things ~ Stairs

Category: Favourite Things November 22nd, 2010 by mbc

We invested a lot of money in wood when converting the barn. The stairs, doors and window frames have all been pricey items. Each involved a number of decisions – hardwood or softwood, oak or pine, painted or treated, natural or stained … Suffice to say that the decision made was rarely on the side of the cheap option. I’m happy with (but poorer because of) the results:

From Barn Conversion 2010
From Barn Conversion 2010
From Barn Conversion 2010

On the last picture you can see how the ball on the top of the newel post has begun to get shiny from use…

Posted in Favourite Things | 2 Comments » « Leave Yours
Tags: ,

Stairs

Category: Barn Conversion Journal April 13th, 2009 by mbc

Pleased to say that the stairs are now in, which changes the whole feel of the building – makes it start to feel like somewhere that may one day be habitable. Although I miss clambering up and down a ladder.

they started off as a pile of bits of wood (this is just some of them):

Then took shape:

They take up much less space in the main room than I thought they would and consequently dominate the room less, which is good. Looking at the first of the three pictures, I thought they’d extend a foot further to the right – that they don’t is by far preferable. I also thought that they’d cut across the ventilation slit higher up and so cover up the bottom of the slit – like this the lines are far nicer.

The quality of the wood and finish is as good as I hoped – all in all very happy with them. But then they have cost the same price as a (very) small car…

Perhaps things are moving on … we’ll get there!

Posted in Barn Conversion Journal | 1 Comment » « Leave Yours
Tags: ,

Progress

Autumn 2013

Right that’s the summer over with, now I can get on with some real work without the distractions of other things (like holidays and playing with children, all that enjoyable stuff that gets in the way of progress)… With few major jobs (painting, boxing in – nasty stuff!) left inside, mainly fiddly things that need […]

I’m having a moan on twitter… https://twitter.com/barnconversion/status/368427314868396032

A lovely Flemish barn conversion

I love the interior of this conversion and the great use of horizontal slats on this conversion. I retains the essential ‘barnyness’ of the building… flemish-barn-by-arend-groenewegen-architect

Coming soon, my barn conversion guide… Interesting earthship greenhouse project on Kickstarter

I really like this Kickstarter project >> The Farm of the Future: Earthship-Inspired Greenhouse This project is “Prototyping the First 100% Off-The-Grid, Affordable, Low-Maintenance Greenhouse using Earthship Principles and Aquaponics“. If any of those words meaning anything to you you’ll be interested in the project if not, pass it by… It’s already funded so I […]

Barns

Barns Gallery on Remodelista

There is a lovely gallery of barn related inspirational photographs available on Remodelista.

Barns – the Long House

Situated on the North Norfolk coast, this is a building to admire…

Barns – the Balancing Barn

A stunning piece of architecture, although not entirely to my taste…

New fast-track planning permission for the development of barns proposed

The Daily Mail reports on a new fast-track route through planning controls for the conversion of barns…

De-assembled, re-assembled, re-cycled barns

“A bit like a private sector, modernising, repurposing St Fagan’s…”

Design

What is a shadow gap?

A shadow gap – a mysterious dark place between two plains…

Your barn conversion – "what you really wanted for yourself"

Thoughts on making YOUR barn conversion – "what you really wanted for yourself"

Building Regulations, Approved Documents Part D – Toxic substances

An overview of Building Regulations, Approved Documents Part D – Toxic substances

Building Regulations, Approved Documents – Part C Site preparation and resistance to contaminants and moisture

An overview of Building Regulations, Approved Documents – Part C Site preparation and resistance to contaminants and moisture

Building Regulations, Approved Documents – Part B Fire safety

An overview of Building Regulations, Approved Documents – Part B Fire safety

Architecture

Your barn conversion – "what you really wanted for yourself"

Thoughts on making YOUR barn conversion – "what you really wanted for yourself"

The Stirling prize 2012 winner – the Sainsbury Laboratory

The 2012 Stirling prize was won by a outsider, the Sainsbury Laboratory…

The Stirling prize 2012

I think that this years Stirling prize has some exciting projects on the shortlist…

Our engineers … our architects – Le Corbusier

The efficient, shiny world of construction in 1923…

Design in Storage

When designing a layout it’s easy to forget to plan for storage…

News

Green Deal slow beginnings?

Oh dear! The green deal hasn’t got off to a very auspicious start… As reported in the Telegraph today since it was launched nearly a year ago just 12 homes have taken advantage of the Green Deal with a few hundred more in the pipeline. 71,210 households had been assessed for Green Deal measures such […]

The property roller coaster – planning reform to be rethought

Eric Pickles vague compromise on planning reform keeps the house happy (for now).

Energy policy, smoke screens, fracking, confusion and big bucks

There seems to be only one thing that is certain in the world of energy policy and that is that costs will rise annually above and beyond anything that inflation can currently throw at us. Beyond that, smoke screens & confusion seem to reign. Take the recent news for example… It’s reported today that the […]

Flanking manoeuvres and good design…

It seems that the government are undertaking flanking manoeuvres on the green belt…

Green Deal Launch

The Green deal launched in the UK on Monday of this week. Fanfares? fireworks? a deluge of marketing? … read more …

Plaid Cymru’s Green New Deal promise

The leader of Plaid Cymru has promised a “Green New Deal” to rejuvenate the Welsh economy and help maintain Wales’ position at the forefront of Green policies.

Permitted development extension limits to be doubled

The government is due to announce a temporary increase in the maximum depth of extensions that can be built under permitted development rules.

Lloyd Khan, making shelter simple.

I wanted to share an interview with Lloyd Khan that I recently found…

Just what is ‘sustainable development’?

Sustainable development – with the term now enshrined in planning law, what does it mean?

Sir Patrick Abercrombie – “It is a matter for serious thought…”

While reading up on the response of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) I came across this quote from Sir Patrick Abercrombie…