grand designs ely: gretta's malaysia house with shou sugi ban cladding

5 timber cladding ideas from Grand Designs

Add an extra dimension to your self build with a beautiful wood finish

By Victoria Purcell | 22 October 2021

Looking for timber cladding ideas? Different woods not only offer varying finishes, they can also offer different levels of protection. The lightweight material is quick to install and reduces the size and cost of foundations, while also offering great thermal and sound insulation properties.

But which variety of wood should you go for? Cedar, Siberian larch, Scottish pine, or maybe the beautiful shou sugi ban? Take inspiration from these five great projects from the latest series of Grand Designs, which all used timber cladding to striking effect…

1. Local larch meets old stone

Ruth Grimshaw and Rob Glass got planning permission to convert a crumbling Cumbrian water mill, but four months into the project, Historic England deemed the original structure unsafe. Save for one gable end, the whole thing had to be demolished.

The couple, who run Ulverston-based architectural practice Tape Design, rebuilt the old walls using as much of the original stone as they could, completing the build with a new timber-framed larch-clad house on fresh beam-and-block foundations.

In an effort to maintain a low carbon footprint, they used square-edge rough-sawn local larch, grown and milled nine miles away, for the cladding. Larch is an oily, resinous and dense wood that is often used as external cladding because of it’s durability. It’s stronger than pine and doesn’t require any maintenance. Larch will weather eventually to a silvery grey, but a clear timber treatment will maintain that gorgeous original colour.

Watch the Grand Designs Cumbrian mill episode on All 4 here

2. Spa-like Siberian larch

Dan and Nina Rowland transformed a tired house next to a stagnant pond into a biodiverse family retreat to bring up daughters Isla, 6, and Lexi, 5. Dan, an architectural designer, and Nina, an interior, furniture and lighting designer, hoped to create a house that promoted wellness and relaxation, inspired by Californian beaches and a forest spa they had visited in Thailand. This swamp-like plot in Chichester fitted the bill. So did the Siberian larch cladding they sourced for the exterior of the property.

Able to withstand its harsh native environment, Siberian larch is a highly durable timber that’s naturally impervious to infestation and most diseases. On this build, the cladding runs in two directions, horizontally and then vertically on the gable end to emphasise the extra height in this section of the house. Inside, sections of timber-clad walls echo the exterior, and bespoke kitchen units are made with larch offcuts.

Their beautiful, light-filled contemporary home that sits right by the water – so close that they can dive off the deck outside the kitchen into a crystal-clear pond. The duo’s vision even led them to co-found their own niche practice,, integrating the disciplines of architecture, interiors and nature.

Watch the Grand Designs Chichester episode on All 4 here