Wiltshire's Grand Design
Wiltshire couple build there dream house in Mildenhall near Marlborough, with Channel 4's Grand Designs team following every step of the way.
The finished house
From derelict castles to run down tug-boats, to old water-towers to eco-homes carved from the side of a hill, Channel 4's Grand Designs, proves nothing is impossible if you use a bit of imagination and have a bit of cash to splash.
Meryl and Andrew Ainslie who live near Marlborough, were featured on the most recent episode of show. The pair described as "totally unflappable" by the programme makers, decided to build a house from an old Victorian barn on their Wiltshire farm. Situated in the middle of the Wiltshire countryside, where you'd have to get in a 4x4 to borrow a cup of sugar from your nearest neighbour.
The whole farm
Using local craftsmen to build the wooden kitchen and an almost sculptural, helix-shaped staircase, that cost a whopping £40,000 the project was huge!
But Meryil took it all in her stride: "We decided to go ahead with the build after converting one barn into a gallery a few years ago.
"Even though our farm was in the countryside our house was in the village of Mildenhall, and we felt removed from the greenery of the farm. Now we are in the heart of our farm, and the heart of the countryside and we love it!"
Inside the barn
Planning and building their new dream home wasn't easy. The couple knew they wanted a home that reflected their lives. Which offered tranquility but which also embraced the 21st Century, some thing modern, which used modern technology and used modern ways of heating and insulation.
"We wanted a barn that still had a barn effect, because we wanted it to fit in to the landscape. It is a completely new build opposite the original Victorian barns on the farm. We have the wood, the glass and zinc of the new build and then the red brick and history of the old."
Using local craftsmen was a must for the Wiltshire couple and sourcing them proved a huge joy: "Working with local artists and craftsmen, who made things just for us has been an amazing journey, a real pleasure"
The gate that seperates the barns
Fans of Grand Designs admit time and time again, one of the best things about watching the show (apart from the magnificent houses) is witnessing the tantrums, the foot stomping and shouting as things go wrong, builders don't deliver and budgets are blown.
But this didn't happen to the Mildenhal pair. Things remained relatively calm: "We had a very clear definition of what we wanted during the build. We had a clear idea about what we wanted to achieve, and gave the builders and craftsmen a very specific brief.
"It really comes down to researching the people you work with, so you have confidence in what they are going to produce for you."
The family outside their new home
Having a film crew following the build didn't throw Meryil or Andrew at all, Meryil describes Kevin McCloud the presenter of the show, as a pleasure to work with.
And after a few weeks living in their dream house, the reality certainly matches up to the dream
"We love living in the house, it's amazing, it's even better than we expected. To wake up get a cup of tea and watch the hares playing in the field is beautiful, we are very lucky."
last updated: 05/03/2009 at 15:56
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Patricia Allnutt Perth Western Australia