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Kevin McCloud builds his very OWN Grand Design: TV star, 64, transforms 400-year-old farmhouse

Grand Designs presenter Kevin McCloud has quietly spent the last three years turning an unloved former farmhouse into his own dream home, MailOnline can reveal.

McCloud, 65, bought the rural hideaway – which came with planning permission to convert a cow shed into another new home – for £1.1 million in June 2021.

Planning documents highlight how McCloud set out to restore the ‘lost dignity and historic character’ of the 400-year old Grade II listed property in Herefordshire.

His bold intentions for the timber-framed property may come as a surprise to some after McCloud admitted this week that he had spent a year working evenings and weekends to install a new IKEA kitchen.

He told how he put in the ‘carcass and doors’ and did some ‘basic carpentry and screwing together’ before adding that he brought in ‘proper craftspeople’ to customise it and bought a ‘very, very beautiful, expensive hot water tap’.

The 65-year-old has quietly spent the last three years turning an unloved former farmhouse into a rural hideaway

The 65-year-old has quietly spent the last three years turning an unloved former farmhouse into a rural hideaway

Father-of-four McCloud snapped up the property after splitting with his wife of 23 years and tying the knot with businesswoman Jenny Jones.

A previous owner of the farmhouse, which dates from around 1600, was prosecuted for undertaking a major series of ‘disrespectful’ alterations without planning permission.

Planners said the unauthorised works led to ‘irreparable loss of historic fabric which has compromised its character as a building of special historic and architectural interest’.

Despite this, estate agents were keen to highlight the positive selling points of the property when it went on the market in 2021.

The 4,858 square foot farmhouse was advertised through Country Life magazine after a local estate agent who specialises in the sales of country houses and equestrian property was instructed to sell it.

Described as a ‘secluded, spacious farmhouse situated in a superb rural location’ with ‘land available separately’, a series of glossy photographs showed off its ‘charming and generously proportioned’ layout.

Highlights included the farmhouse’s two ‘very generously sized reception rooms’ with the main sitting room opening from the ‘kitchen/breakfast room’ and featuring ‘a wonderful inglenook fireplace with wood burner’ and ‘a snug nook’.

A second reception room also featured a fireplace with wood burner and offered ‘a versatile space’.

An online brochure added: ‘A superb, spacious open-plan kitchen/breakfast room forms the heart of this house; the country-style oak fitted kitchen offers plenty of storage and also benefits from a large central island with granite work surface.’

The kitchen included an electric range cooker and the ground floor featured further rooms including study, utility room and boot room as well as two WC. 

A look at the Grade II listed property before it received a makeover from the television presenter

A look at the Grade II listed property before it received a makeover from the television presenter

Father-of-four McCloud snapped up the property, pictured, after splitting with his wife of 23 years

Father-of-four McCloud snapped up the property, pictured, after splitting with his wife of 23 years

The presenter admitted this week that he had spent a year working evenings and weekends to install a new IKEA kitchen. Pictured: The kitchen before it was renovated

The presenter admitted this week that he had spent a year working evenings and weekends to install a new IKEA kitchen. Pictured: The kitchen before it was renovated

A series of images show off the 'charming and generously proportioned' layout of the farmhouse

A series of images show off the ‘charming and generously proportioned’ layout of the farmhouse 

Highlights include 'very generously sized reception rooms' with the main sitting room featuring 'a wonderful inglenook fireplace with wood burner', pictured

Highlights include ‘very generously sized reception rooms’ with the main sitting room featuring ‘a wonderful inglenook fireplace with wood burner’, pictured

The first floor features a galleried landing with three double bedrooms and a single bedroom, three with ensuite bathrooms as well as a separate family bathroom.

The attic has a further two large double bedrooms and a family bathroom with separate wet room.

Cambridge-educated McCloud has followed the trials and tribulations of families as they attempt to create their perfect home as host of the popular Channel 4 programme for the past 25 years.

Last week he insisted he would never throw open his doors to TV viewers adding: ‘It’s like walking around with your trousers down’.

But in a teasing insight into his own personal project, McCloud told how he had been inspired to copy a restoration featured in an episode of Grand Designs.

He said he was ‘absolutely blown away’ by the transformation of the ruins of Astley Castle in Warwickshire after it was destroyed in a fire in the 1970s.

McCloud was particularly impressed with the inclusion of a contemporary ‘hanging’ oak staircase among its updated features.

Council documents show that within weeks of buying the farmhouse, McCloud submitted detailed plans to make some major changes to the interior in a bid to restore it to its former glory.

McCloud’s project includes new staircases on the ground and first floor to help create an area that ‘should respond well to a sympathetic contemporary solution’ to the previous botched works.

The documents show plans for the kitchen to be moved ‘to the north wing’ while permission was sought to turn one of the first floor’s double bedrooms into a huge bathroom with ‘his and hers’ sinks and a freestanding bath in the centre of the room. 

The first floor features three double bedrooms and a single bedroom. The attic, pictured, has a further two large double bedrooms

The first floor features three double bedrooms and a single bedroom. The attic, pictured, has a further two large double bedrooms

It has been described as a 'secluded, spacious farmhouse situated in a superb rural location'

It has been described as a ‘secluded, spacious farmhouse situated in a superb rural location’

A look at the staircase and hallway in the 4,858 square foot farmhouse

A look at the staircase and hallway in the 4,858 square foot farmhouse

The presenter sought permission to turn one of the first floor's double bedrooms into a huge bathroom with 'his and hers' sinks. Pictured: A bathroom before it was redesigned

The presenter sought permission to turn one of the first floor’s double bedrooms into a huge bathroom with ‘his and hers’ sinks. Pictured: A bathroom before it was redesigned

Other proposals include removing ‘false ceilings’ to expose historic beams along with the removal of ‘modern cement and plaster’ to ‘reverse the damage caused by the use of modern previous materials’.

The plans show the removal of partition walls and ‘blocking doorways’ to reconfigure layouts as well as ‘a more sympathetic solution to the altered main fireplaces’.

Outside, the proposals included replacing modern brickwork with a timber-framed wall using traditional materials, landscaping gardens and the removal of the property’s oil tank and its replacement with a heat pump to ‘make an important contribution to the building’s sustainability’.

Architectural historian and historic building consultant Dr Catherine Gordon said the proposals represented ‘an important opportunity’ to regain some of the property’s ‘former integrity following a phase of inappropriate alterations’.

In a heritage statement written to support the application, which was approved by Herefordshire Council in March 2022, she wrote of the staircase feature: ‘The proposed works will address the issues raised by the awkward insertion of the modern staircase, which does not occupy the full width of the stairwell and has altered the layout of the first-floor landing.

‘A sympathetic solution that relates to the historic fabric and layout will dramatically improve this key central area within the house and the extent of recent alterations provides scope for an interesting contemporary design that underlines the house’s dramatic proportions and robust character.’

She said the plans ‘should serve to protect the building’s surviving historic fabric, restore part of its original layout, improve its sustainability, and ensure it is adapted with an informed and careful approach to meet modern requirements’.

Dr Gordon added: ‘They will set an important and valuable precedent for future alterations and repairs to this building that will continue to restore some of its lost dignity and historic character and increase both its individual significance and also that of its exceptional setting.’ 

Kevin McCloud, pictured inside the 'Grand House of Ideas' as part of Grand Designs Live in May

Kevin McCloud, pictured inside the ‘Grand House of Ideas’ as part of Grand Designs Live in May

The 64-year-old pictured in the kitchen of his former home in Somerset in April 2004

The 64-year-old pictured in the kitchen of his former home in Somerset in April 2004

Host Kevin McCloud said in an episode in May 2023 that he has never spent more than £7,000 on a new kitchen. Here he is pictured speaking to a homeowner on the show

Host Kevin McCloud said in an episode in May 2023 that he has never spent more than £7,000 on a new kitchen. Here he is pictured speaking to a homeowner on the show

McCloud told how being without a kitchen for a year gave him an appreciation of the rollercoaster of emotions faced by participants of the home building show.

He said: ‘It’s hard to express and to understand, there was a very deep sense of threat.

‘It came from the fact that we didn’t have a kitchen, we didn’t have a heart to the home.

‘It was as though something had been taken away from the building that made it feel more dangerous to be there. I can’t describe it in any other way, and I talk to people about this – it’s a very common feeling.’

McCloud has spoken of his love for ‘ancient buildings’ and has said of his new home: ‘It’s a bit of a new build, a bit of an old build, a bit of a garden build and a bit of a barn conversion.

‘Ancient buildings are fabulous, but like elderly relatives, they do not thank you. And they’re smelly and damp like elderly relatives. It’s like living with a lunatic.’

He also said: ‘My great love is old buildings and I get hot under the collar if I see people doing stuff which is not good. I’ll wade in.’

McCloud had previously shared a 500-year-old farmhouse with second wife Suzanna near Bruton in Somerset.

The couple, who have two children, sold their previous Grade II-listed home in 2010 to Fifty Shades Of Grey director Sam Taylor-Johnson for £1.85million.

McCloud, who also has two other children from previous relationships, told how he lived in a camper van for three years so he could carry on working during the pandemic.

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Living in a surfer’s paradise! Chic townhouse with incredible floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking beach in Cornwall goes on the market for £2.75million

A chic townhouse with breathtaking views over a surfer’s paradise has gone on the market for £2.75m.

Gwel Tresla has incredible floor-to-ceiling windows looking out over the surf mecca of Polzeath, Cornwall, and even has a sky hammock to take full advantage of the panoramic views.

The five-bedroom home is one of three striking contemporary townhouses completed in 2020 with high specifications and smart technology throughout and has been a successful holiday let with Latitude 50.

The property is arranged over four storeys with reversed living accommodation to make the most of its incredible beachfront and west-facing position, which means the owners will get to enjoy spectacular sunsets.

It has 2,863 sq ft of accommodation with the entrance lobby and a double bedroom with en suite on the ground floor, and four bedrooms and four bathrooms on the first floor.

Gwel Tresla in Polzeath, Cornwall is on the housing market for £2.75million

Gwel Tresla in Polzeath, Cornwall is on the housing market for £2.75million

The property is located in the small seaside resort village overlooking the beach that is popular with surfers

The property is located in the small seaside resort village overlooking the beach that is popular with surfers

The property is arranged over four storeys with reversed living accommodation to make the most of its incredible beachfront and west-facing position

The property is arranged over four storeys with reversed living accommodation to make the most of its incredible beachfront and west-facing position

On the second floor there is an impressive open plan living space with a kitchen/dining area

On the second floor there is an impressive open plan living space with a kitchen/dining area

The kitchen has a breakfast bar where the owners can enjoy a meal as daylight shines in through the floor-to-ceiling windows

The kitchen has a breakfast bar where the owners can enjoy a meal as daylight shines in through the floor-to-ceiling windows

There is a built-in-bar on the other side of the kitchen which is perfect when hosting guests

There is a built-in-bar on the other side of the kitchen which is perfect when hosting guests

On the second floor there is an impressive open plan living space with a kitchen/dining area with built-in bar at one end and a living area with a vaulted ceiling and a sea-facing balcony at the other.

The top floor has another living area/TV room with the sky hammock looking out over the beach and a bathroom. There is also a large covered terrace with built-in outdoor kitchen and barbecue.

Outside there is secure underground parking for two cars, a lockable surf and equipment store and outdoor hot and cold showers.

The house is just 25 yards from Polzeath Beach, a popular holiday spot with safe bathing and surfing and a vast expanse of beach.

Polzeath is close to the other popular resorts of Rock and Padstow and has a number of excellent restaurants and pubs nearby, great watersports opportunities and walking and golf.

The reversed living accommodation allows the owners to enjoy beautiful sunsets from the living room

The reversed living accommodation allows the owners to enjoy beautiful sunsets from the living room

The top floor has another living area that leads out onto a large covered terrace

The top floor has another living area that leads out onto a large covered terrace

There is a sky hammock on the top floor looking out over the beach

There is a sky hammock on the top floor looking out over the beach

The covered terrace has built-in outdoor kitchen, barbecue and seating

The covered terrace has built-in outdoor kitchen, barbecue and seating

Josephine Ashby from John Bray Estates said: ‘This striking architectural design, by Studio Arc Architects, delivers on all fronts, with breath-taking coastal views from all the principal rooms, and high specifications and smart technology throughout.

‘Completed in 2020, Gwel Trelsa is the dream beachfront property, offering comfortable and spacious accommodation that seamlessly blends comfort and luxury, resulting in a highly desirable family home or holiday home.

‘Situated in a prime frontline position at Polzeath, Gwel Trelsa commands front line views across the beach and over the surrounding coastline.’

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The 11 things that make your garden look tacky, revealed by a top expert – including the flower colour that just screams cheap

A well-maintained garden may be a relaxing retreat – but it can also boost the kerb appeal and even the value of your home.

But, if done the wrong way, efforts to enhance your outside space can leave it looking cheap.

From choosing the wrong plant pots to – counterintuitively – being too tidy, the Mail’s gardening editor looks at the 11 common errors that can cheapen your garden, rather than helping it thrive. 

When tidy is too tidy

Many of us were brought up with strict ideas about well-kept gardens, with lawns neatly mown and weeds all pulled up. But that is no longer the prevailing aesthetic.

Letting go a little and being slightly untidy can lead to a more expensive looking haven. And leaving self-sown plants in summer and seed heads over winter will make your garden look more expensively abundant. Phew!

Wildflower beds with self-sown plants are now the prevailing aesthetic

Wildflower beds with self-sown plants are now the prevailing aesthetic 

Yellow’s not mellow

Don’t get me wrong, I have a soft spot for bright yellow flowers such as daffodils and sunflowers. But such garish flowers must be used in the right context.

Expansive garden beds the colour of a hi-vis vest? It’s a no. Yellow is difficult to match with other colours and should be used sparingly.

The perils of artificial grass

The quickest way to make your garden look cheap is to lay artificial turf. Used widely in sporting venues, fake grass became popular because it doesn’t need to be mowed or watered so is seen as low-maintenance and hard-wearing. But it almost always looks naff.

Plus, the disadvantages far outweigh the benefits. It is ruinous for wildlife and adds to global warming by absorbing more radiation than living grass, which acts as a carbon sink. Natural lawns allow rainwater to be soaked up, whereas artificial grass can cause run-off after heavy rainfall leading to flooding.

In hot weather, it can reach dangerous temperatures, especially for pets who might burn their paws. Plus, it only has a lifespan of ten to 20 years, after which time it is difficult to recycle.

 Soulless bare fences

Fences without greenery can make your garden look boxy and cheap. There are plenty of easy climbers you can plant to soften the feel and make your garden look more high-end.

Star Jasmine is a lovely evergreen with pretty white flowers, while climbing hydrangea is good for a shady corner.

If you want privacy, remember evergreen hedges can’t be more than 2m high, according to the High Hedges Act. Instead try planting deciduous silver birch trees with attractive white trunks and green foliage in summer when you are out in the garden.

Don’t settle for plastic furniture

Moulded plastic chairs are unsightly and should be avoided at all costs. Plus, they’re uncomfortable and topple if you lean too far back, or slice into any bare flesh unfortunate enough to touch the seat.

If your budget won’t stretch to buying new wood, rattan or metal alternatives, search local online groups to see if anyone has second hand deck chairs or outdoor dining sets on offer.

If you are willing to buy something preloved and weathered, it can often cost less but look more expensive.

Thin borders, a thing of the past

Narrow flower beds around the edge of a rectangular lawn used to be thought of as the ideal garden design, but these days it just looks scrimping.

Borders should be at least a metre deep to allow for multi-layered planting. Don’t just put them around the perimeter of your garden. Flower beds used to divide up a space add a touch of mystery and look much classier.

Gadgets and gazebos

Barbecues, fire pits, corner sofas, gazebos, over-sized paddling pools – its easy for your outdoor space to become cluttered with so many garden gadgets you can’t move around without tripping over them.

Decide what you really need and use often, then recycle the rest. Or store them away neatly in the shed until you want to use them.

Plastic plant pot horror

It is tricky to keep plants looking good in plastic containers, even the ones that attempt to imitate terracotta.

As well as the lack of sustainability, the trouble with plastic is that unlike materials such as wood and stone, it provides no protection for plants against drying out in summer and freezing in winter, and it is not breathable.

If you do have plastic pots, reuse them for propagating and save your best non-plastic containers for display purposes.

Paving the way to disaster  

Every gardener needs somewhere to sit, but this shouldn’t come at the expense of losing too much of your lawn.

Ideally there should be a ratio of at least two-thirds planting and grass to one-third hard surface. If you are putting in a new patio, consider leaving gaps between the pavers for low plants such as creeping thyme and Mind-Your-Own-Business which will also help with drainage. 

If you want to park your car in your front garden, choose a permeable surface with planting around the edges.

Fly-away greenhouses

I must confess I own one of these mini shelving units covered in a zip-up, see-through plastic smock. But after it fell over outside one too many times in windy weather, despite being tied to the wall, I have brought it in to our lean-to where I now use it as a propagating unit. A pile of overturned seed trays and spilled soil does nothing to add to kerb appeal.

Do away with dead pot plants 

Well-tended container planting can add a cheerful welcome to a garden or balcony, but there is little as off-putting as being greeted by a collection of unidentifiable shrivelled dead plants in pots.

Avoid this by doing your research and choosing plants you love which will encourage you to water and feed them regularly. Having a water butt nearby makes this task much easier.

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Assessing Property Size: What Square Footage Can You Get With The Average UK House Price In Your Area?

Assessing Property Size In The UK

In the United Kingdom, there is a prevailing tendency to gauge the size of residences based on the number of bedrooms rather than square footage. In fact, research indicates that three out of five individuals are unaware of the square footage of their property.

However, a comprehensive analysis conducted by Savills reveals significant variations in property sizes throughout the country. For instance, with the average property price standing at £340,837, this amount would typically afford a studio flat spanning 551 square feet in London, according to the prominent estate agency.

Conversely, in the North East region, the same sum would secure a spacious five-bedroom house measuring 1,955 square feet, nearly four times the size of a comparable property in London.

Best value: Heading to the North East of England is where buyers will get the most from their money

In Scotland, the median house price equates to a sizable investment capable of procuring a generous four-bedroom residence spanning 1,743 square feet. Conversely, in Wales, Yorkshire & The Humber, and the North West, this sum affords a slightly smaller four-bedroom dwelling of approximately 1,500 square feet, while in the East and West Midlands, it accommodates a 1,300 square foot home. In stark contrast, within the South West, £340,837 secures a modest 1,000 square foot property, and in the East, an even more confined 928 square feet.

London presents the most challenging market, where this budget offers the least purchasing power. Following closely, the South East allows for 825 square feet of space or a medium-sized two-bedroom dwelling. Lucian Cook, head of residential research at Savills, emphasizes the profound disparity in purchasing potential across Britain, ranging from compact studio flats in London to spacious four or five-bedroom residences in parts of North East England.

While square footage serves as a critical metric, with a significant portion of Britons unfamiliar with their property’s dimensions, the number of bedrooms remains a traditional indicator of size. Personal preferences, such as a preference for larger kitchens, may influence property selection. For those prioritizing ample space, Easington, County Durham, offers a substantial 2,858 square foot, five-bedroom home, while Rhondda, Wales, and Na h-Eileanan an Iar, Scotland, provide 2,625 and 2,551 square feet, respectively. Conversely, in St Albans, Hertfordshire, £340,837 secures a mere 547 square feet, equivalent to a one-bedroom flat.

The disparity continues in central London, where purchasing power diminishes considerably. In Kensington, the budget accommodates a mere 220 square feet, contrasting with the slightly more spacious 236 square feet in Westminster. Conversely, in Dagenham, the same investment translates to 770 square feet. Three properties currently listed on Rightmove exemplify the diversity within this price range across the UK market.

South of the river: This semi-detached house is located near to three different train stations

South of the river: This semi-detached house is located near to three different train stations

2. Lewisham: One-bed house, £345,000

This one-bedroom property in Lewisham, South London, is on the market for £345,000.

The semi-detached house is set over two floors, and has a private patio.

The property is located near to bus links and amenities, as well as Catford train station.

Edinburgh fringe: This three-bed property is located on the edge of the city, near to the town of Musselburgh

Edinburgh fringe: This three-bed property is located on the edge of the city, near to the town of Musselburgh

3. Edinburgh: Three-bed house, £350,000

This three-bedroom detached house in Edinburgh could be yours for £350,000.

The house, which has a two-car driveway, boasts a large kitchen diner, and is within easy reach of Newcriaghall train station.


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