Light From Above


Originally built in 1775, the grade II listed converted barns and farmhouse at Elms Farm, Derbyshire is the home of the Smedleys who recently added roof windows for more light and ventilation.

Fiona and John Smedley did the conversion themselves. The property had been purchased by Mrs Smedley’s father in the 1980s.

When builder Ken Tansley from Interbuild was first introduced to the site back in May 2017, the barn was still full of old farming machinery, cow partitioning and even had ducks and chickens living in a part of it.


 “As the build went on, the architects’ drawings did have to be slightly amended, as is the way with many renovations, but fortunately everything went pretty smoothly and there weren’t any major problems or changes.”

– Ken Tasnsley 

Owner, Interbuild


Roof windows

Light and heat were two large factors that had to be taken into consideration during the planning stages. The barn had little-to-no insulation, and what would become the second floor had no access to natural daylight – two common issues to tackle in a normal barn conversion but a grade II listed property would need extra care and compliance.

To accommodate this many of the upstairs’ original beams, which the owners had hoped to keep, had to be covered for insulation and fifteen roof windows were drawn into the plan to bring natural daylight into the top floor rooms.

Tasnsley first heard of Keylite when visiting Buildbase Derby and soon got in contact with Keylite’s Tom Jarvis. “Tom was fantastic, he came out to Elms Farm to meet us and bought a sample,” says Tansley. “It was an easy sell due to the price and the fact that all the flashing and add-ons came with the windows as standard, which again saved us on time and price. That, and the homeowners knew they could also get a wide range of blinds from Keylite as well.”



“Usually, roof windows can pose an issue for listed buildings, as they sit higher than the roof tiles and therefore cause compliancy issues, as well as being an eyesore,” continues Tansley. “However, another huge selling point for Keylite is that the windows are recessed as standard – meaning they sit lower in the roof, enhancing the overall appearance and improving the thermal performance of the window.”


Conversion finished

Two years on, the barn at Elms Farm has been transformed into a beautiful rural home. Having stayed true to the building’s long history, homeowner Fiona Smedley has worked to ensure as much of the original structure is incorporated into her home as possible.

The L shaped building consists of a lounge, three bedrooms with en-suites, and a sunroom, which used to be an old pigsty, looking out into the garden. The sunroom, true to its name, invites natural daylight and warmth thanks to new bi-fold doors and two Keylite roof windows.

“There is no attic in the barn, meaning the second floor is literally in the roof. Skylights or roof windows were the obvious choice to help bring natural light into the upstairs rooms,” says Fiona Smedley. “Four of our hard-to-reach Keylite windows are electric, which definitely saves us from having to reach with a pole every time we want some fresh air, or when it rains.

“The three bedrooms all have two Keylite roof windows and each en-suite has an added one. The light that the windows bring in is wonderful and really helps to enhance the beauty of the property. We love it here.”

Picture: The Grade II listed converted barns and farmhouse at Elms Farm, Derbyshire where Keylight roof windows have been installed.

Article written by Cathryn Ellis
24th November 2021


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