The timber cottage renovation from Grand Designs

The Cornish Timber Cottage revisited

This innovative timber build was a hit with Grand Designs viewers, but does it accommodate family life?

By Amanda Cochrane | 12 December 2016

Sustainable, stylish and affordable, Gregory Kewish and Rebecca Sturrock’s innovative timber cottage renovation was a hit with Grand Designs viewers. We catch up with Gregory to learn how the family’s home has evolved…

‘Filming took place in summer 2014 and we have been living happily in our new house for a year now, but I wouldn’t say it’s 100 per cent complete – we are always tweaking things. Rebecca and I love this space, which has been transformed from an unassuming single-storey, one-bedroom cottage into a home with enough room for our family.’

The Cornish timber cottage renovation from grand Designs revisited

Photo: Paul Ryan-Goff

‘Working with a material that’s relatively new to the UK’s housebuilding industry was probably the biggest challenge. We used cross-laminated timber (CLT) to create the design we wanted – a healthy, breathable home with large, open spans. I am surprised by how little the technique is used in this country as it’s so integral to the way homes are delivered in Scandinavia and Germany.

‘It was sometimes hard to gather enough information or find specialist help with the on-site workings of CLT; there is a shortage of knowledgeable professionals, simply because the material isn’t popular here yet. This will change in the future when uptake and demand is greater.’

The timber house renovation from Grand Designs revisited

Photo: Paul Ryan-Goff

‘It was extremely important to us to create an efficient, low-energy home, and we’ve achieved this. The walls, floor and roof are packed with insulation and our central heating is just a wood-burning stove. This keeps the main living areas and mezzanines lovely and warm, but I think that the lower level, where the bedrooms are located, may benefit from underfloor heating, which will be installed over the next year.’

‘All our hot water is generated using a single solar dynamic panel – it’s been a brilliant investment. Even in the middle of winter it works efficiently and costs only pennies to run. In fact, Kevin McCloud has talked about the product as one of his green heroes in Grand Designs magazine. It’s such a simple piece of kit, measuring 180cm x 80cm, and just millimetres thick. In basic terms, it utilises the technology of a heat pump, but in panel form. It has the capacity to be linked to underfloor heating, too.’

The outside of the timber cottage from Grand Designs

Photo: Paul Ryan-Goff