Sty’s the limit

Tina Iacovelli's elegant sitting room, a soothing mix of neutrals and layered textures

Tina Iacovelli opened up a former pig shed to create this stunning four-bed barn conversion

Tina lacovelli is never happier than when she’s scouring flea markets, car-boot sales and antiques fairs for vintage knick-knacks. “As an interior designer I’m always on the look-out for bargains,” she says. “In fact, my mantra is ‘Always buy designer style on a shoestring.’”
From stylish kitchen dresser shelves picked up at a salvage yard to a shabby-chic footstool unearthed at a car-boot sale, Tina’s flair for discovering thrifty treasures is evident throughout the beautiful barn conversion she shares with her partner, Gary Thomas.
“My favourite local market takes place at Malvern County Showground in the summer,” she says. “I often come home with an unexpected gem. On my last visit, I was looking for a pair of vintage pink 1950s ballet pumps and an old violin. Instead, I ended up with a beautiful Lloyd Loom chair and some antique crockery.”
The barn was bought as a project. “Gary spotted it for sale in our local newspaper,” says Tina. “We felt renovating it would be a great thing for us to do together, and we weren’t put off by the fact that it needed a lot of work.
“The property was originally built as a pig barn during the 1830s so it had plenty of character, but it had been converted (unsympathetically) into a house in the 1970s. All the beams were stained black, making every room feel dark, and the kitchen was full of brown units,” says Tina.
Despite the tired 1970s decor the pair could see the property had huge potential and renovation work quickly began in earnest. The barn’s layout went from a series of dingy rooms into a light-filled, open space with a kitchen diner that flows into the sitting area.
As well as replacing the kitchen and bathrooms, the entire barn needed rewiring and replumbing. “We did as much of the unskilled, labour-intensive work as we could in order to keep costs down,” says Tina. “Although we left things like sorting out the plumbing to the experts, I did most of the painting, while Gary waxed all the floors and managed the project.”
The couple’s input didn’t stop there. The barn’s impressive glass-fronted entrance, which was built and glazed by a local carpenter, was Tina’s idea. “It lets so much light flood in,” she says. Preferring interiors that are bright, calm and neutral, Tina decorated the barn using soft greys, crisp whites and pale greens. Beautifully complementing the stripped-back wooden floors and beams are a selection of natural-coloured fabrics and hard-wearing materials such as sisal and rattan. The overall subtle look perfectly suits the barn’s rustic elements and Tina’s love of French-country house style.
As well as having a good eye for design and decor, Tina has a knack for cleverly turning old
items into stylish pieces. The designer-looking footstool in the sitting area is covered with
hessian sackcloth she bought for only 50p. *I made cushion covers out of it too,” she adds.
“We also love our wooden ladder, which I came across at a car-boot sale and bought for just £7.”
It’s these clever homespun touches, combined with elegant rustic charm, that makes the couple’s home so welcoming and unique. “The barn does feel very us,” says Tina. “Doing this place up was a massive undertaking but luckily everything worked out. We’re thrilled all our hard work and bargain hunting has paid off. Not bad for a former pigsty!”

The open plan interior is light, bright and spacious
The open plan interior is light, bright and spacious
White kitchen units relfect the light and create a clean, minimalist vibe
White kitchen units relfect the light and create a clean, minimalist vibe
Exposed beams and white plasterwork keep the barn conversion from feeling too rustic
Exposed beams and white plasterwork keep the barn conversion from feeling too rustic
Soft furnishings contrast beautifully with the barn's rugged good looks
Soft furnishings contrast beautifully with the barn’s rugged good looks

This feature originally appeared in 25 Beuatiful Homes. Pics: Colin Poole