The best Grand Designs episodes ever | Grand Designs magazine
The Grand Designs Treehouse in Gloucestershire

10 of the best ever Grand Designs episodes

The Grand Designs magazine team pick some of the show's best episodes to add to your watch list

By Hugh Metcalf |

With 22 series and more than 200 episodes of Grand Designs, you’re never going to be short of an exciting episode (or three) to watch. Most of them are available to watch online at All 4, but where to start?

You could always work your way through them chronologically, of course, but if you’re looking for some specific inspiration, the Grand Designs magazine team has picked out some of their favourite episodes for your watchlist.

1. Timber cottage renovation, North Cornwall (2014)

Grand Designs magazine editor Karen Stylianides picked the renovation of this timber cottage as one of her favourite Grand Designs projects for the innovation and amazing use of cross-laminated timber. ‘The architect used his skills to turn the mundane into something amazing,’ she says.

Watch the timber cottage episode on All 4 here

Inside the Timber Cottage in North Cornwall from Grand Designs 2014

Photo: Matt Chisnall

2. Water tower conversion, London (2012)

The renovation of a disused water tower is one of former content editor Hugh Metcalf’s favourite Grand Designs. The ambitious project required a vast budget to transform the local landmark of challenging proportions into a home while preserving its history. ‘From the very beginning, it seemed like a completely impractical idea – but you can’t argue with the final results. The living space with 360 degree views is outstanding.’

Watch the water tower episode on All 4 here

The London water tower from Grand Designs 2012

Photo: Grand Designs

3. The Rockhouse, Worcestershire (2015)

The Rockhouse was designed and created by Angelo Mastropietro when he bought the mass of stone in an auction on his birthday. Former content producer Becca Green chose this episode as one of her all-time favourites because ‘it epitomises what a grand designer is – an individual with a vision dedicated to seeing the project through from beginning to completion. The build was carved entirely out of stone, making the interior cave-like and hopelessly romantic.’

Watch the rockhouse episode on All 4 here

The rockhouse in Worcestershire saw a cave converted into a house in Grand Designs

Photo: Grand Designs

4. Barcelona Pavilion home, West Sussex (2015)

One of Grand Designs’ biggest ever projects, this West Sussex build was inspired by the sublime Barcelona Pavilion by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Lilly Reich. It’s another of Grand Designs magazine editor Karen Stylianides top picks: ‘The owner was striving for visual perfection and obsessed with the smallest details, but this came at a price. It’s a bricks and mortar realisation of one man’s personality.’

Watch the Pavello episode on All 4 here

The West Sussex pavilion house with swimming pool was on Grand Designs in 2018

Photo: Darren Chung

5. Steam bent house, Cornwall (2016)

Tom and Danielle Raffield transformed their tiny four-room cottage in Cornwall with a beautiful timber extension. The sculptural extension featured the exquisite craftsmanship used in their successful furniture business. Becca’s reasoning for choosing this self-build was the emphasis on intricate design and the specific process of steam bending that was used to create many interesting features in this grand build.

Watch the wavy house episode on All 4 here

The steam bent house from Grand Designs uses furniture-making methods to create a wavy structure

Photo: Grand Designs

6. The TreeHouse, Gloucestershire (2016)

Building a Treehouse may seem like a childhood dream come to life, but in this instance it was a more practical choice. All the trees on the Jon Martin and Noreen Jaafar’s plot were listed because it’s a conservation area, so the couple had to build up in order to create a space that is light and bright. ‘You can’t ignore the idyllic fairytale of living among the trees,’ says editor Karen. ‘This house is fantastical living for grownups.’

Watch the Treehouse episode on All 4 here

The Grand Designs treehouse in Gloucestershire surrounded by trees

Photo: Grand Designs

7. Lighthouse, North Devon (2019)

This project from the latest series of Grand Designs made for must-watch TV, although it was not necessarily the most uplifting of stories. ‘Edward Short’s Grand Designs journey piqued the interest of a lot of viewers judging but their responses online, and the revisit was much anticipated,’ says content editor Hugh. ‘Can he find a way to finish the project?’

Watch the Lighthouse episode on All 4 here

Chesil Cliff House, aka the Lighthouse, is nearly finished and going up for sale

Photo: Alan Phillips Architects

8. Dinton Castle, Aylesbury (2018)

One man’s vision drives forward this project to restore and give new life to a quirky folly at Dinton Castle in Aylesbury. Jaime and Mimi Fernandez not only created a family home, but restored a local landmark during the rocky process of this restoration. ‘A family living on the edge of disaster to make a dream come true, but was it worth the risk?,’ asks editor Karen.

Watch the Folly episode on All 4 here

The Georgian folly was a magnificent restoration project

Photo: Grand Designs

9. Cob house, East Devon (2013)

The Cob House was a true labour of love by owner Kevin McCabe, taking 7 years to make with over 2,000 tonnes of cob. Content producer Becca says: ‘This had to be in my top three builds because of the sheer passion and hard work put in to the magnificent build. Not only this but it was built to meet the highest standards of sustainability and boasts an impressive roof garden that helps the build blend into the landscape.’ You can even rent the annexe of Dingle Dell and stay in one of the most iconic Grand Designs of all time (click here to book).

east devon cob house 2018 tv series

Photo: Grand Designs

The uncompromising design of Megan and Adrian Corrigall’s concrete house in Lewes, East Sussex, garnered criticism when it first appeared on Grand Designs. Almost three years on, the monolithic house is finished and softened with bright, modern furnishings. Outside there’s a swimming pool surrounded by a lush, almost tropical garden. ‘Adrian’s courage of conviction on this project was admirable as armchair critics all over the country wondered what he’d gotten himself into. But after the revisit, I was well and truly converted to the charms of concrete’, says Digital Content Editor, Victoria Purcell.

Watch the original episode on All 4 here, and the revisit, here

The concrete house in East Sussex is finally finished

Photo: Mark Bolton