It is just a small personal theory of mine that the roots to the careers we desire are often to be found in childhood. However, for various reasons people don’t always get an opportunity to go straight into the career of their dreams. It can take many years to find an ‘in’ and fulfil that thing – whatever that ‘thing’ is. Tracy Head, co-owner of Vintage Barn Interiors, has always loved interiors. Before having children, Tracy worked in banking and her first foray into the world of interiors was at the plucky age of 12 when she wallpapered her mother’s bedroom.
Not on the high street
When Tracy had her two boys, she started to sell gift and interiors accessories at local antique centres as well as under her company name of Little Red Heart with online retailer, Notonthehighst.com. The business has been successful but Tracy admits at times a little lonely when she was working solely from a storage facility on a local business park. Tracy says, “Orders were good but I could be packing up endless boxes and sending them out, sometimes 7 days a week, without much social interaction.”
Tracy met her friend and now partner of Vintage Barn Interiors Sarah Nelson 15 years ago when Sarah was working on Tracy’s neighbour’s curtains and blinds. Sarah (also a barn owner) had an equally circuitous route to interiors as her background before children had been as a medical rep.
Sarah realised she needed to find an occupation that she would enjoy and that would fit in around her children’s activities. Sarah did a curtain-making course and with 20 years experience of curtain and blind making, now advises clients of Vintage Barn Interiors on what type of fabrics/window treatments could work for them.
Tracy has gained a fair bit of design experience with several house moves culminating in this beautiful modern barn that she and her husband designed and had built in Shiplake just outside of Henley on Thames in Oxfordshire. Tracy says, “We decided to knock down the Colt framed bungalow which existed on the land as we realised it would cost more to extend it than build a new house.” Tracy had a long-held dream to live in a long house/barn so together with an architect, they came up with a plan to replace the bungalow’s footprint with a contemporary barn.
Working from home
The new family home has given birth to Vintage Barn Interiors, a design/styling/curtain business for clients selling furniture and accessories as well as a photographic location. The house is a perfect showcase for showing clients how something might look – that is when it isn’t being used as a photographic location!
Next to the house is a design studio which doubles up as a showroom for visitors to buy accessories and furniture. You can expect to see accessories such as Amish-style wooden barn stars, lanterns, cushions, candles, Hungarian wooden bread boards (£40), vintage painted Hungarian chests of drawers (c.£500), vintage mirrors, some in reclaimed window frames (see above). The pair also now design made to order trestle or cross leg dining tables (from £700/5ft).
Contemporary country living
Some of us get swayed with different decorative styles/fashions but Tracy has a very clear vision of what she likes and has designed the exterior and interior. “I love natural materials such as wood and stone, as well as greys which I find very soothing.”
Tracy has taken inspiration from French/Gustavian/Urban decorating themes relying more on texture than pattern. Tracy wanted to create a sense of being on holiday all year round in her home which she has successfully achieved particularly with a double height ceilinged sitting room with gallery which allows light to bounce round the house.
The house is decorated both inside and out with three colours: ‘Downpipe’, ‘Strong White’ and ‘Hardwick White’ by Farrow & Ball. This mineral-inspired colour palette is used as inspiration for decoration throughout from jumbo plantation shutters to walls and floors as well as vintage grain sack striped fabric for cushions and blinds.
Head hall welcome
Tracy has created a warm welcome in the entrance hall to her barn with a large console table and a faux window with shuttered mirror.
A panelled wall of ‘Downpipe’ painted integrated shelving, including log store and spot to semi-lose (black against grey wall) a big smart TV is rather fab. Tracy proves how outdoor lanterns can look great for interiors too. The oak window sills and ceiling beam give texture and character to the room.
Open plan kitchen/living
The kitchen has been designed with a kitchen island, base unit drawers for storage with open shelves above half of the kitchen. Plantation shutters in a light grey finish the look.
Holiday home living all year round
Light bounces around the interior of the south-facing house because of a combination of plenty of windows, semi open plan design and a double height ceilinged sitting room with oak gallery.
The use of several different wall treatments such as exposed brickwork, panelling and oak beams creates character and interest. Note too, the strip of lighting at floor level which adds another decorative dimension. The false wall with basin cleverly provides privacy to a wet room behind.
Bedroom design: all in the detail
Tracy has divided up her bedroom space with a bank of bespoke wooden wardrobes. There are many things I love about this house, but it is details like the air holes at the top of each wardrobe door which make a really unusual decorative idea. (Prior to refrigeration, these holes were traditionally used in vintage kitchen cupboards/pantries for ventilation – Plain English kitchens use this same design in their larder cupboards).
Tracy nearly meets Linda
Yorkshire born Tracy says friends often compare a likeness to fellow Yorkshire TV homes presenter Linda Barker. Recently, there was a real possibility that the two might meet, as Tracy’s house was on option as a location for a new interiors TV programme starring Linda Barker. Sadly in the end, the production company needed to be nearer to Bath. (The new programme is currently under wraps, but I can’t wait to find out what it is!)
Blog exclusive discount
Vintage Barn Interiors are very kindly offering readers of my blog a 10% discount off all accessories and furniture from the 3 February through to the 3 March 2017. Just mention WHITEblog when visiting (studio opens each week on Thursday and Friday 10 am until 3 pm) or ordering by phone.
Thank you very much Tracy for sharing your beautiful home.
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