The stunning Grand Designs homes created in Wales

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It has run for a staggering 20 seasons spanning just as many years. Grand Designs has long been a staple of British TV, with Kevin McCloud at the helm guiding us through the heartbreak and joy of pushing homes new and old to the limit.

In all that time, it might be surprising to know that only eight Welsh homes have featured on the hit programme.

But, although it might not seem like many, the creations that have been showcased along the way more than make up for it.

From castles to Japanese retreats and eco-homes ending in tragedy, take a tour down memory lane with the best that Welsh home design has to offer.

The Addams family home



Jo and Shaun Bennett decide to build an Addams Family-style house, complete with stained glass window and a huge stone fireplace

With their love for horror films and gothic architecture, it was only natural that Jo and Shaun Bennett opted for an Addams family-style home for their Grand Design in Monmouthshire.

Back in 2008, it was their plan to create their own gothic home, complete with gargoyles, a £30,000 carved oak staircase, a bespoke stone fireplace and, that epitome of gothic design, a 60″ plasma telly.

Plans also included a tower, cloister and stained glass windows, all for a maximum budget of £250,000.



The huge stone fireplace was a key design element



As were the gargoyles on the stairs

With Jo acting as architect and project manager, the project first left Kevin typically sceptical, labelling it as “unrealistic”.

But while money issues saw them only able to afford the “bare bones” of the plans, with a final cost of £400,000, the end result was still an undeniably impressive piece of history.

The iconic lifeboat station



The old lifeboat station in Tenby was home to the brave souls of the RNLI for over 100 years until Tim and Philomena took over

It’s one of the most iconic views looking out from Tenby harbour.

In 2011, Tim O’Donovan and wife Philomena set their sights on transforming the town’s old lifeboat station after buying the old building from the RNLI, saving the charity thousands of pounds a year in upkeep fees.

With access to their new home only via a 40ft pier unless the tide is out, it was never going to be an easy feat. In fact, it took seven years to get a permit for the couple to proceed with their plans to create a home there.



The couple managed to turn the tiny space into a modern home

But together, with the help of Pembrokeshire architect Michael Argent, and Philomena’s interior design, the end result was a modern and unique home like no other.

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The Japanese haven of tranquillity



Nigel and Tamayo Hussey created a Japanese fusion house in the Wye countryside

It was truly a case of where east meets west when it came to this magnificent project in the middle of the Wye countryside.

This home was the brainchild of Nigel and Tamayo Hussey – one a florist and the other a professor of experimental physics – both with a dream of recreating the tranquillity and traditions of Japan on the other side of the globe.



This Grand Design even came with a Japanese bath house



What more could you want?

This 2013 episode saw Nigel and Tamayo fly thousands of miles to source the finest materials for the tatami room, a peaceful space for tea ceremonies and family occasions.

And who can forget the roof terrace, complete with its own Japanese bath house.

Despite their fair share of issues along the way, the couple ended up only £25,000 over budget – not bad compared to some others.

The modern-day folly



The folly was one of the very grandest designs to feature on the series

One of the most memorable Grand Designs episodes showcased the restoration of the listed building Kemeys Folly, found north of Newport and overlooking the stunning Usk Valley.

Thought to date back to the 1700s, it was originally a hunting lodge for the Sheriff of Monmouth as part of his Kemeys family estate and land.



Modern design met centuries of history in the folly

The folly was a total labour of love for owner Dean Berry, not just in the painstaking restoration of the listed building, but in the design and creation of the new contemporary structure and the associated stress that accompanies a grand design of this scale – all filmed for the nation to view.

You can read more about what happened when the cameras stopped rolling here.

The eco-home that ended in tragedy



This hobbit-style home was described as the cheapest house ever built in the western hemisphere

Labelled one of the “cheapest houses ever built in the western hemisphere” at the time this episode aired in 2016, it took Simon and Jasmine Dale pure imagination and ingenuity to bring their eco-friendly home to life.

After starting with just £500 in the bank they finished with a three-bedroom family home in Pembrokeshire using reclaimed materials including glass and timber and insulated with sheep’s wool. By the end of the project, the Dales estimated their amazing home cost them £27,000 to build – including £5,000 worth of vegetables to feed the volunteers who helped them out.



This amazing home cost them £27,000 to build


Tragically, the house was destroyed by fire caused by a faulty appliance

In total it took four years to create the couple’s Hobbit-esque dream home on the pioneering sustainable village Llamas.

But, sadly, such a pioneering project ended in tragedy when it was destroyed by a fire caused by a faulty appliance in 2018.

The futuristic coastal castle build on the edge of a cliff



Cefn Castell sits on the site of a 400-year-old cottage

Another episode with plenty of drama, this 2014 spectacle put a lot of focus on the super modern home’s clifftop position and the possibility of the eroding geography around it leaving the project in the sea.

Luckily, experts reassured owners Rob and Kay Hodgson that was not the case, allowing them to create their stunning home, Cefn Castell, with uninterrupted views over the rugged coast of Cardigan Bay.

This £450,000 three-bedroom property sprung up from the site of a 400-year-old cottage in Criccieth where the stone remains were used to build the new boundary wall.



It’s hard to imagine a better location



The super modern interior leaves all focus on the sea view

In order to maximise the stunning cliff-top sea views, large expanses of glass make up much of the downstairs while sections of pristine white wall give the property a grid-like sense of definition.

There is also a small upper storey with master bedroom and balcony, which imitates the look of coastal observation stations.

As well as impressing Kevin, Cefn Castell also won a host of awards, including the Building Control prize for best new house in Gwynedd, the Welsh Architecture Award and the title of RSAW Small Project of the Year 2015 – one of only eight buildings in Wales nominated.



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The breath-taking eco house in the middle of rural Wales



This six-bedroom home boasted cutting edge sustainable ideas like wool insulation

Back in 2005, Andrew and Lowri Davies featured on only the fifth season of Grand Designs.

At the time the couple opted for the latest experimental materials and features for their contemporary six-bedroom eco-house, including sheep’s wool insulation, recycled roof tiles and underfloor heating – all for around £245,000.

Inside, minimalist décor was used to match the home’s contemporary aesthetic, complete with the atrium glass roof and its own recording studio.



The project took longer than expected

The house won Carmarthenshire County Council’s top prize for best eco-friendly new build in 2005.

  • Grand Designs episodes are available on All4.



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