Tom and Danielle Raffield put their design and craftsmanship skills to the test on Grand Designs when they built a unique timber extension to their listed cottage in Cornwall.

steam bent TV house1

Names Tom and Danie Raffield
Ages
33 and 36
Location
Near Helston, Cornwall
Property
Timber-framed extension to a Grade II-listed gamekeeper’s cottage
Bedrooms
2
Bathrooms 2
Project started October 2014
Project finished August 2016
Size of house 300sqm
Build cost £190,000

This place has the potential to be Tom’s masterpiece; the summation of his life’s work,’ said Kevin McCloud on the new series of Grand Designs. Tom and Danie Raffield’s ambitious project to transform their tiny four-room cottage in Cornwall involved adding a low-impact, beautifully designed timber extension, featuring the same exquisite craftsmanship used in Tom and Danie’s successful handcrafted furniture business.

This Grand Designs project in Cornwall showcases the couple’s designs skills, determination and, above all else, their love of timber. ‘It’s fair to say that if you don’t like wood, then our house probably isn’t your cup of tea,’ says Tom. The stunning plot in Cornwall that Tom and Danie bought in 2011 was the culmination of a long-held dream for Tom, who has always wanted to own a piece of woodland.

steam bent TV house2

The couple design and manufacture wooden lighting and furniture created using a traditional process of steam-bending, in which the application of heat and moisture is used to shape timber into beautiful forms; the woodland site offered them the space they needed to build a large workshop for their business.

A run-down, Grade II-listed gamekeeper’s cottage at the heart of the seven-acre plot became home for the couple and their son Beauregard, and then their younger son Bearwyn, too, although with their bathroom located on the opposite side of a courtyard and very little in the way of twenty-first-century home comforts, it fell some way short of being a suitable space for a young family.

‘We simply fell in love with the place,’ says Tom. 'Living in the cottage was far from ideal, but it was always our long-term aim to transform it into a unique home.’ Danie sketched out some ideas for how they could remodel and extend the listed cottage, and then handed over her designs to architectural technologist Chris Strike of RA Design, who developed the couple’s initial plans and created the final drawings for the planning application.

steam bent TV house3

‘English Heritage made it clear that any new building had to be set behind the existing Grade IIlisted cottage,’ explains Tom. ‘Thankfully, everyone understood that the original building was no longer fit for purpose and that something needed to be done to preserve it. The old Cornish cottage was originally conceived as a means for someone to look after the land, and I think both English Heritage and the local planning authority appreciated that what we were trying to achieve was a twenty-first-century version of this; a way to ensure we could continue to maintain the surrounding woodland.’

Although the couple’s budget almost doubled, along with the timescale for the project, they have no regrets about taking it on. ‘It’s the most overwhelming thing we’ve ever done, but it’s also been the most satisfying,’ says Tom.

‘If we’d had all the money in the world and had just bought this as a finished house, it wouldn’t have the same feeling,’ adds Danie. ‘We’ve put so much of ourselves into this project, that it feels incredible to be living here. Sitting at the outdoor table and looking back to the finished house for the first time was like having an out-of-body experience. I just thought, “Wow, we did that”, and that’s a pretty amazing feeling.’

All information correct at time of print: Grand Designs Magazine November 2016.

Kevins Column

Top self build highlights at Grand Designs Live 2019 hosted by Kevin McCloud

Find top experts, specialist exhibitors and a wealth of inspiration for your self-build or renovation project all under one roof.
visit-award-winning-grand-designs-live-hosted-by-kevin-mccloud
most-memorable-tv-house-kitchens
Grand Designs TV Houses

5 of the most memorable kitchens from Grand Designs TV houses

Are these the best kitchens from Grand Designs' TV homes? Let us know your thoughts!
most-expensive-grand-designs-homes
Grand Designs TV Houses

4 of the most expensive builds to feature on Grand Designs

These spectacular homes may have let their budgets run wild, but was the end result worth the expense?
cantilever-tv-houses
Grand Designs TV Houses

4 cantilevered self build homes featured on Grand Designs

Each of these outstanding homes, all featured on Grand Designs, appear to defy physics with overhanging structural elements.
tv-house-glass-home-in-brixton
Grand Designs TV Houses

TV house: Cantilevered glass home in Brixton

Appearing on Grand Designs back in 2012, these self builders divided a plot of land to build a modern glass cube home.
tv-house-strathaven-airfield-scotland
Grand Designs TV Houses

TV house: Strathaven Airfield in South Lanarkshire, Scotland

This extraordinary build on an airfield in Scotland recalls the structures of nearby airplane hangars.
best-timber-frame-self-build-homes-grand-designs
Grand Designs TV Houses

7 of the best timber frame homes featured on Grand Designs

Discover 7 homes built on Grand Designs using a timber frame construction method.