Original Features and Floods of Sun Characterise This Converted Family Home

How often is sunlight the knock-out feature of a residential conversion project? All the time, in our dreams. Architectural firm JUMA brought that dream to life with Project BK. Out in the rural sprawls of Afsnee, JUMA come in contact with an old farm. Being tasked by a client looking for a homely conversion they were able to adapt it from a working environment into a place to unwind.

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Known for their sleek yet organic constructions, JUMA is the brainchild of architects Mathieu Luyens and Julie van De Keere. Founded in 2009 the pair, along with a team of contributors, have designed personal homes, bars, restaurants etc. all while working intimately with each client with the aim to provide neat and concise design with a passionate authenticity.

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Mathieu Luyens and Julie van De Keere

The pair have completed a stunningly fresh conversion of this rural farm, freeing up what was old offices to now be warm furnished spaces, removing a second staircase to allow for a spacious and bright kitchen and appropriating original and classic distressed woods throughout the building to allow the farm to still cling to it’s humble earthly roots.

It’s not just that the original bluestone sink, wooden beams, rafters, and angular roof shape been elegantly incorporated into a backdrop of minimalist furniture. The open plan of the space has been preserved, with vertical slatting creating privacy whilst breaking up the farm’s draughty rooms. Rich and earthy materials – oak veneer cabinet fronts, polished concrete floors, nature stone steps – nod to the house’s history, whilst contemporary design touches like Zuma’s distinctive L-shaped sofa fit unobtrusively around the irregularly shaped rustic space.

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The flood of natural light into the kitchen and the bathroom, along with truly homely features tempered by elegant design, makes for a truly ideal home. We sat down with JUMA to ponder over various aspects of the project, the materials used and the challenges that presented themselves within the project.

The Plus: What were the challenges in keeping a lot of the original structure intact? And how much of the original interior remains?
Mathieu Luyens and Julie van De Keere:
There had been a reformation already a few years ago so we didn’t have to change a lot of the structural parts. The biggest change was the kitchen. It was very narrow and we made it bigger by removing a wall. All the other spaces were very empty, clean and with no extras. By adding materials we made a comfy space. Imagine the hall/office without cabins, concrete, natural stone,… There were only white walls and a stone floor.

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TP: How long did the conversion take?
ML & JvDK:
About one year.

TP: The wooden beam above the fireplace, the stone sink, and other original features: did you keep these in place, or have they been removed and re-installed? How did you have to preserve these for a modern home? 
ML & JvDK:
The stone sink was indeed removed and reused in the restroom. It was nice to make a design with this original piece.

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TP: What aspect of contemporary design did you want to combine with the older features?
ML & JvDK:
As always we try to create a warm house that is still functional and cozy. Finding the balance between the old house and contemporary design is the hardest thing, but also the most fun thing to do.

TP: What is the history of the farmhouse? When was it originally built? And how long has this family owned it?
ML & JvDK:
I don’t know actually, but on the outside you can see that there were actually three small houses next to each other. The family bought it two years ago and never lived in it.

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TP: You’ve used a lot of different materials for the surfaces (floors, wall units, countertops, stairwells, etc.); talk us through this variety. Which did you use? And why?
ML & JvDK:
We like to combine smooth materials with very raw materials. This gives the best effect. We aren’t afraid to use a lot of materials as long they match with each other.

TP: You designed the L-shaped sofa – did you design the rest of the furniture pieces and fixings, too?
ML & JvDK:
Yes we designed all the fixed furniture. Kitchen, cabins, desks…

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TP: The windows and bathroom mirror are irregularly triangular to suit the shape of the roof – where did you source these?
ML & JvDK:
This wasn’t our design. This was done by the previous architect/reformation. To be honest we aren’t big fans of this. It’s not practical, especially being a bathroom, not being able to have privacy.

TP: Tell us a bit about the clients! And what brief did they give you?
ML & JvDK:
They are both young doctors. We didn’t get much briefing. They liked our style so we made a design for them.

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TP: What feedback have you gotten from the clients?
ML & JvDK:
They are super happy and satisfied!

TP: What for you makes for an ideal family home?
ML & JvDK:
A functional place with lots of warmth. A house should be as personal as you.

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