Dad spent lockdown building £ 1.85million dream family home in Cornwall
When avid cameraman and surfer Tom Eldridge set out to design a country house from scratch, on 3.5 acres of land in rural Cornwall, he was struck by that elusive perfect balance of weathered character and contemporary luxury that was his biggest challenge.
“Having already renovated several houses, I wanted to build a custom family home,” says Tom. “But I didn’t want it to look too new and shiny. I found the solution, even though a lot of people thought I was crazy.
Overcoming any impatience he felt to complete the project as quickly as possible, Tom’s response was to leave the vast oak frame and trusses of the house exposed for 12 months, so that it could naturally grow old and grow old.
Now, three years after purchasing the land, the striking mellow brown internal structure looks like it is a century old and forms the backbone of the impressive open plan kitchen / dining / living space at double height in the heart of the house.
“I’m so glad I took the time to let nature make its own mark on the frame,” says Tom, who shares the 4,750 square foot, five-bedroom home with his two children, Finley, seven. , and six-year-old Esme and their blue merle border collie, Ragnar.
“It was so satisfying to have designed the house myself, as well as doing most of the construction. It meant taking 18 months off work, but the blockages gave me the opportunity to really focus.
It is the incredible private location of the south-west facing land (near the market town of Wadebridge, 13 miles from the Constantine Bay surf spot and which featured an abandoned 1960s house and derelict barn) that convinced Tom this was the place to build.
“It was so amazing, with views of the valley and countryside stretching out for 10 miles in front of you. My goal was to build a modern country house that would look like it’s always been there and stand the test of time, ”he says.
Working with a construction budget of around £ 750,000, Tom drew up plans for his dream house, which he named The Barnyard, and then called to Truro. Kast Architects to make it a reality.
The house, accessible by a long track, was to have a two-story wing on either side of the kitchen / living space, and incorporate a playroom, family room and cloakroom, as well as a separate triple garage / studio .
So far so convenient. But it’s the fact that Tom, along with just one other builder, did a lot of the grunt work himself that makes The Barnyard unique.
“I started building the foundation in June 2019 and finished it in May,” says Tom. “I was on the scaffolding a lot, I worked on the house late every night I could, I designed the bathrooms myself and I did all the interior wood cladding. I only used local specialists for roofing, carpentry and masonry. ‘
Carefully selected materials juxtapose the old and the new. The house is topped, for example, by reclaimed grayish-white tiles from the nearby Delabole slate quarry, a favorite among heritage renovators across the UK, and the huge dining table and trestle benches are carved from reclaimed wood from the old house and the barn. .
Duck Egg Blue Kitchen Items, Christchurch kitchens-main-direct.co.uk, are quite traditional, but the kitchen island is covered with ultra-modern micro-cement.
“Since it’s right in front of the huge stone fireplace, we needed something really substantial and heavy looking, to balance it out,” says Tom. Insulating glazing and a ground source heat pump add the green features required of any newly built home.
Layers of style were created throughout the house via a Little Greene paint scheme (neutral white Slaked Lime found in most rooms), sculptural wood lighting by Tom Raffield and artwork by West Country talent Sammy Little and the painters championed by the Wadebridge Gallery Contemporary Circle.
Tom’s favorite space, however, is the master bedroom, where nature takes center stage: there are uninterrupted views of the valley and countryside through the sash windows.
The children were also extravagantly looked after, with their own playroom, right next to the main living area. Here an entire wall is covered with chalkboards and there is a giant Lego desk, hand-built by Tom, for them to get creative with.
Tom admits that when it comes to the gardens, bordered by lush forest, he ran out of money. To help him, his mother (with whom he stayed during the construction of the house) grew 400 plants for him from seeds.
The landscaped park is now filled with lavender, an array of architectural grasses, raspberries, cosmos and fuchsias. “I’m really happy with the end result,” says Tom, although there are still a few things to tick off his to-do list.
The two guest bedrooms still need to be decorated, the utility room needs a finishing touch and a cinema room is still in the final stages of completion.
It will be up to The Barnyard’s next owner, however, to complete them. Despite his passion for the project, Tom brought The Barnyard to market, for offers of over £ 1.85million, and hopes to take advantage of the hordes of house hunters Cornwall has seen since the pandemic hit.
“Life has changed since I started designing the house,” he says. “I am now keen to undertake another project – either a renovation or another new construction. There is so much going on in my imagination.
Does he have any advice for future home builders? “The plot is everything,” says Tom. “And there is nothing more satisfying than building a house that you have imagined in your own head.”
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