The Conversion of ‘Kabarole’
‘Kabarole’ was designed to provide holiday accommodation with as much space and light as the original barn building could provide. This was a considerable challenge during the building work (2004-06) since in many places the walls are nearly a metre thick, and few original openings existed, so the project took on dimensions that we had not anticipated. However, it does now mean that despite all the doors and windows we have installed, the house still remains well insulated which is a blessing all seasons of the year. The interior walls of the house are either finished with pointed stone work, a beige coloured render or white plaster walls to maintain the traditional style of buildings in this area. All the ground floor rooms have ceilings constructed of substantial oak beams finished with chestnut parquet which is sawn and prepared a few miles away. There are three massive original oak posts integral to the barn construction that feature in three of the rooms, but we think they add enormously to the character of the house.
Since summer in the Dordogne is invariably hot, we decided to construct a substantial, roofed terrace or ‘veranda’ the full length of the building along the south-facing wall. This also ensures that the rooms remain beautifully cool in the full heat of summer and furthermore, the veranda becomes as much the living space as the house itself. All the main rooms have direct access to the veranda, which means that there has been no need for internal corridors allowing the rooms to be spacious and well proportioned. Access from the car parking area to the veranda and all the main rooms of the house is on one level making the house particularly suited to wheel chairs and people who are less mobile.
The final stage of the barn conversion was completed at the beginning of 2008 when we added one more bedroom and bathroom at the western end of the building. This section is effectively self-contained and has complete privacy from other parts of the house, so it is a popular choice. The “annex” as we call it, is accessed via the stairs going up to the “mezzanine”, but because the barn is built into the hillside, it also has its own direct access to the garden and swimming pool. We have really enjoyed playing with the different levels that the building offers and it has added great character to the house itself.
Veranda (roofed terrace) (81 sqm)
The veranda runs the full length of the building. At the eastern end the veranda is the point of access to the house from the parking area (lit at night by an external security light). At the western end, it is the point of access to the swimming pool via a flight of steps up the end wall of the barn (lit at night by an external security light). The western end of the terrace is not roofed and provides an outside sitting/dining/barbeque area exposed to the afternoon/evening sun. The living area, the bathroom and two of the bedrooms have direct access on to the veranda through French windows. An outside table with eight dining chairs all in teak wood are provided on the veranda. Four lights with shades provide lighting along the veranda at night.
Living Room (62 sqm)
The substantial living room at the western end of the house has a tiled floor throughout, oak beams and a chestnut parquet ceiling. The room is lit by three gentle, wall lights. Large French windows in the south wall lead out from the living room to the veranda. A traditional oak staircase leads up from the living room to a “mezzanine” area. The living room has three functions:
Kitchen: there is a fitted kitchen the western end of the living room equipped with cupboards, working surface, sink, draining board, electric oven, gas cooking hob, extractor, micro-wave, electric kettle, toaster, coffee machine, kitchen utensils, dish-washer, washing machine and a large fridge/freezer all newly installed in 2006. Cutlery, crockery and glasses are provided for 10 people. Tea towels and table cloths are also provided.
Dining Area: a large traditional dining table is provided with eight dining chairs and a sideboard. A lamp is suspended over the dining room table. There is a dedicated electric radiator socket in this area.
Sitting Area: four comfortable easy chairs with teak coffee table and floor rug are provided around a traditional, stone fireplace at the eastern end of the room. The fireplace is fitted with a glass fronted insert which allows it to be used as a regular log fire, but has the added advantage of providing heat (through concealed ducts) to the adjacent master bedroom and bathroom as well. The circulation of heat in the three rooms can be boosted by an electric fan installed discretely in the external wall of the living room.
Mezzanine (20 sqm)
A mezzanine area is accessed from the living room by a traditional oak staircase with a balustrade at the top of the stair well. It is effectively an “attic room” overlooking the living area and has a window looking westwards up the valley. It is furnished with a three seat sofa, two easy chairs, rugs, a television (which can access BBC TV and radio channels), DVD, video, books and games. There is a dedicated electric radiator socket in this area.
Master Bedroom (23 sqm)
The master bedroom has direct access to the veranda through French windows in the south wall. It also has direct access through internal doors to the living room and the bathroom. The bedroom floor is tiled throughout, has oak beams and a chestnut parquet ceiling. An electric fan (for summer) and a heating ventilator (for winter) have been installed at ceiling level. The room is lit by a wall light and two bedside lights with shades. There is also a dedicated electric radiator socket. The room is furnished with a large double bed, two bedside tables, floor rugs, two chairs, a wardrobe (with generous hanging space and drawers) and a dressing table. A small linen cupboard (where the bathroom water heater is installed) is accessed from the master bedroom. This is shelved for storing the bed linen and towels for the house.
Main Bathroom (12 sqm)
The bathroom has direct access to the veranda through a ‘porte-fenêtre’ in the south wall. It also has direct access through internal doors to both ground floor bedrooms. Any combination of doors can be used or locked according to specific requirements. The bathroom floor is tiled throughout, has oak beams and a chestnut parquet ceiling. The room is lit by two wall lights. A heated towel rail and a warm air ventilator in the ceiling have been installed (for winter). The bathroom has a large walk in shower (with built in bench seat), wash basin and toilet which are all specially designed and equipped for people with disabilities as well as enabling wheel chair access.
Double Bedroom (24 sqm)
The double bedroom is at the eastern end of the house. It has direct access (with one step) to the veranda through a ‘porte-fenêtre’ in the south wall and has a large window in the north wall for additional light. It has direct access (with one step) through an internal door to the bathroom. A traditional oak staircase leads up to the first floor bedroom above it. The bedroom floor is tiled throughout, has oak beams and a chestnut parquet ceiling. The room is lit by two wall lights (one on the stairway) and two bedside lamps with shades. There is also an electric fan and a dedicated electric radiator socket. The room is furnished with one standard double bed and a single bed, bedside tables, floor rugs, two chairs, a chest of drawers and a simple wardrobe with shelves.
Children’s Bedroom (24 sqm)
The upstairs bedroom is at the eastern end of the house directly above the ground floor double bedroom. Being an ‘attic room’, it has a sloping ceiling with exposed beams and two small windows in the north and east walls. The bedroom has a chestnut parquet floor and an oak balustrade around the stair well. The room is lit by one wall light (on the stairway) and two bedside lamps with shades. There is an electric fan and a dedicated electric radiator socket. The room is furnished with two twin beds, bedside tables, floor rugs, two chairs, a chest of drawers and a simple wardrobe with shelves.
Double Bedroom (20 sqm) and Bathroom (6 sqm) Annex
The annex is at the western end of the barn and is accessed via the first-floor ‘mezzanine’ (down two steps). The bedroom has direct access to a garden terrace through a ‘porte-fenêtre’ in the west wall. The bedroom floor is tiled throughout and has well insulated walls and ceiling finished in white plaster board. The room is lit by one wall light and two bedside lamps. There is an electric fan and a dedicated electric radiator socket. The room is furnished with a large double bed, two bedside chest of drawers, floor rugs, two chairs, and a wardrobe with hanging and shelf space.
The adjacent bathroom is accessed from the corridor leading from the ‘mezzanine’ to the bedroom. It has a west facing window, tiled floor and walls with plaster board ceiling. There is one wall light and a dedicated socket for electric radiator. A heated towel rail and air extractor are installed. The bathroom has a full size bath with shower, wash basin and toilet.
Swimming Pool (12m x 6m)
The swimming pool is accessed up a flight of stone steps starting at the western end of the terrace. The pool was constructed by a specialist firm in 2005. Since it was built into the hillside, it was necessary to construct a two metre high retaining wall in local stone on the northern side. The area around the pool is paved with non-slip tiles and is equipped with a solar shower. The pool has a sand coloured liner and is naturally chlorinated with salt. There are wide steps leading down into the shallow end (1.10m) and the floor of the pool then slopes gently down to the basin in the deep end (2.00m). An electronically (solar powered) operated rigid cover has been installed which both insulates the pool and provides child-proof security when the facility is not in use (in compliance with French law). The pool has underwater lighting and external wall lighting on the hill-side of the pool for use in the evening. In 2008 we added a robust shelter built in oak and roofed with traditional Roman tiles to provide shade in the height of summer at the eastern end of the pool. The shelter is furnished with table, chairs and sun loungers.