This unique house in Devon, first featured on Grand Designs in 2017, has a close connection with its idyllic surroundings. 

blackdown hills - grand designs TV house 2017 - photo fraser marr 

Image: Fraser Marr

One small object set Stephen and Elizabeth Tetlow on a path that led to the design of Oat Errish, their modern country house in the Blackdown Hills, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty near Taunton, on the border between Devon and Somerset. ‘The inspiration for the shape came from an ammonite fossil that we had on our dining room table,’ explains Stephen. ‘The building is shaped in what is known as the golden ratio in both plan and section. There is found many times its found in nature too, such as in the spiral patterns in pinecones and the fronds of a fern. So, the idea was to design our home to reflect the nature around it.’

 blackdown hills - grand designs TV house 2017 - photo fraser marr

Image: Fraser Marr

Prior to this, Stephen and Elizabeth lived in a nearby thatched cottage for a decade with 8 acres of land. When the couple decided to take the plunge and embark upon building their own house, they sold their cottage, retained most of the land for the plot and named their new home ‘Oat Errish’, after the field in which it  is built, as described on the tithe map of 1844.

The property reflects the undulating rural landscape it sits in; although strikingly modern, it is never at odds with the hills and fields all around. Stephen suggests this has been achieved through close collaboration with the architectural firm, Sadler Brown, and the planning consultant, James Ellis from Rural Solutions, who provided invaluable guidance. East Devon District Council’s Planning Committee passed the plans unanimously at a public hearing.

Watch now: Blackdown Hills, Devon, 2017

blackdown hills - grand designs TV house 2017 - photo fraser marr

Image: Fraser Marr

Some of the exterior walls are faced in chert, a local stone, while the oak windows and doors are bespoke and locally made. The roof is clad in textured wooden panels, made from an incredible 4,600 separate slats, comprising a mixture of redwood cedar, Siberian and English larch mounted on green oak runners.

Elizabeth stayed in Devon as de facto project manager while Stephen worked in London: ‘One of us was on site every day, which was essential
in order to know exactly what was happening, run errands, answer questions and chase deliveries. We also went to our local recycling site often, as the rubbish built up quickly.’

 blackdown hills fraser marr 7

Image: Fraser Marr 

The couple have three grown-up daughters and four grandchildren who often visit, and although their home represents the pinnacle of Stephen’s fascination with combining scientific principles with design, it is very much a family home. ‘A key part of our plan was for the house to be a welcoming place with enough bedrooms for our children and grandchildren to come to stay together,’ says Elizabeth. ‘The large open-plan living space is a wonderful area for running around.’

Read more: Exterior cladding: which material to choose for your home

blackdown hills fraser marr 5

Image: Fraser Marr 

The property is ‘upside down’, in that most of the bedrooms are on the ground floor and the living areas are on the first. This space is where form and function come perfectly together to create a huge open-plan area encompassing kitchen, seating and relaxing.

The ceiling soars, held aloft by the exposed curved glulams (glued and laminated beams), create the backbone of the house. These are made from English larch grown  in Devon and Cornwall and manufactured off-site to precise golden ratio measurements.

‘Living in a curving house seems to create a calming and harmonious balance,’ says Stephen. ‘It is a truly amazing place. The quality of the light and the view from each window is glorious. Our home has a real sense of place and a wonderful connection with the fields and meadows.’ 

Project finished November 2017
Size 247 sq m
Build cost £800,000
Architect Sadler Brown
Landscaping Alistair W Baldwin
Planning consultant Rural Solutions
Builder Jason Turner
Glulams Buckland Timber
Joists Donaldson Timber Engineering
Oak windows Brendan Wellman
Glass Topline
Copper cladding Zincworks Roofing 

 

Did you love this Grand Designs TV self-build? Let us know by tweeting us @granddesigns or posting a comment on our Facebook page

 

RELATED ARTICLES

Country plots: 5 ways to beat buying issues

4 inspiring self-build homes in the countryside

More Grand Designs TV Houses...

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
tv-house-shed-south-east-lodnon
Grand Designs TV Houses

TV house: Urban shed in south-east London

Tracy Fox and her husband Steve wanted to build an 'urban shed' out of industrial materials in an old milk yard, but the choice of...
tv-house-underground-london-studios
Grand Designs TV Houses

TV house: Underground home in a former London recording studio

These ambitious designers created a light, bright home, in spite of much of it being under ground level.
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-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.