The Art of Design – Watlington Barn – May 2016

The Old Schoolhouse by PEEK Architecture + Design

In the beautiful village of Watlington, Oxfordshire, is situated one of PEEK Architecture + Design’s recent projects.

The existing structures were an old mortuary housed in a small cottage style, single storey building, and a rundown, clapboard barn, which used to be a vets. The client Susanna Samson, founder and designer of The Vintage Collection, had owned both buildings for years. She would escape from London to stay in the barn building every weekend, which was one open space with a sleeping platform, and she used the space to work and design in, as well as store her vast collection of vintage prints. She approached PEEK with the brief that she wanted to join both buildings into one residence, creating a three bedroom, two bathroom property. Strategic planning was to first get permission for the dormer windows to the cottage, a vaulted roof to the main bedroom to the rear, and then finally a ‘link’ structure between the two, housing the new front door, and creating a courtyard beyond. It was named TheOld Schoolhouse.

The main living area, which contains the kitchen, dining and living, was insulated, and clad with tongue and groove panelling, painted in ‘Light Blue’ by Farrow and Ball. The kitchen is a simple off white shaker design, made by a local joiner, and the painted floorboards of the mezzanine enclose it above. The antique oak farmhouse table and reclaimed old school chairs, create the main dining space. The green sofa is situated perfectly under the large front window, which also acts as a ideal place to display Sue Samson’s striking cushion designs. Glow ball pendant lights from Holloway’s of Ludlow, are suspended from the timber rafters above, and provide an even light to fill the tall volume.

The bright red front door is now inviting from the street, and is framed by a wire arch adorned with climbing roses.PEEK chose a grey green paint colour for the exterior of both buildings, giving the impression that the two structures are now one dwelling.

The entrance hall is lined by French doors to the far side, which lead out to a small courtyard beyond. On the other side of the courtyard one can enter the master bedroom via matching French doors. To the ground floor of the cottage type building, is a tv room and lounge. A Moroccan rug gives the space a cosy feel, and the shelves are crammed with curiosities and books.

A new painted timber stair with purple runner, leads up to the guest bedroom on the converted first floor. This room was painted a bright orange, with pink skirtings and woodwork. The French doors in the rear dormers, lead onto a secret roof  terrace, nestled between the tiled roofs. Large scatter cushions create a comfortable place to read and relax.

The main bedroom to the rear of the cottage building, used to be a damp, flat roof structure, so PEEK installed a new pitch roof, and a vaulted ceiling with rooflights was formed over the space. This area houses the master sleeping area and dressing room, painted in a feminine pink, with an old, white, wrought iron bed centred in the room.

The final result is a stunning country, crash pad, which is undoubtedly quintessentially English. The Old Schoolhouse is the ideal sanctuary for Susanna to work from, and a perfect stage for her eclectic collection of vintage finds as well as her own cushions and lamps. PEEK succeeded in breathing a new lease of life into two historically neglected buildings. Through strategic planning applications and a sensitive approach to the refurbishment, the materials used and the spaces created, guarantee that this new country residence maintains its character and charm.

Architecture and interiors by PEEK Architecture + Design.

Visit for Susanna Samson’s range of exceedingly individual, textiles and products



Screen Shot 2017-01-12 at 18.07.22 Screen Shot 2017-01-12 at 18.07.44

Screen Shot 2017-01-12 at 18.07.44Screen Shot 2017-01-12 at 18.07.22