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Simon Moore visits a stunning cottage in East Devon

PUBLISHED: 13:07 25 September 2012 | UPDATED: 21:56 20 February 2013

Simon Moore visits a stunning cottage in East Devon

Simon Moore visits a stunning cottage in East Devon

Grand Devonshire Designs - Built more than 100 years ago, this stunning cottage near Budleigh Salterton in East Devon owes its transformation to a mix of Devonshire craftsmen and businesses, with a fine handcrafted kitchen at its heart

Grand Devonshire Designs


Built more than 100 years ago, this stunning cottage near Budleigh Salterton in East Devon owes its transformation to a mix of Devonshire craftsmen and businesses, with a fine handcrafted kitchen at its heart

All photographs by Simon Moore

It began two years ago. Hunting through East Devons rolling coastal landscapes for a home that would keep them for years to come, Ann and Peter Briggs stumbled across a derelict cottage on the road toward Budleigh Salterton. Although it had been empty for eight years, Ann saw its potential and soon set to work bringing the property back to life.
While travelling the globe with Peters career, Ann had absorbed many cultures and styles, but its the influences of our fine county that really captured her imagination when approaching a restoration job that Kevin McCloud would find hard to fault.
That old saying of home is where the heart is certainly rings true in this story, and in the case of the Briggses that home is Devon, with Ann born just down the road in Ebford while Peter began life at what is now Woodburys post office. It was therefore natural that, in a time of recession, they employ the services of the countys craftsmen, helping support Devons economy while creating a home that has a real story running through its very veins.
First things first: it was to source a bespoke kitchen to fill a fantastic space on the ground floor that Ann turned to Crediton business Ashgrove Kitchens, creators of quality handmade and lovingly crafted bespoke kitchens, bedrooms and studies. Ashgroves kitchen designer Stephen Bottomley visited Ann on several occasions to translate her vision into a kitchen that would provide a living space for guests, family and friends to enjoy. For Stephen, great kitchen design is all in the approach and the planning.

A triumphant outcome thanks to the coming together of best-in-class Devonshire-based craftsmen and professionals

I love the challenge of creating living spaces with real ambience, says Stephen. Not simply a room but a place to congregate and enjoy with loved ones a place to pause and take in ones environment. This is what I wanted for the Briggses with family dotted around the world, this will regularly have people staying for lengths at a time. Its great getting something down on paper, translating someones dream into reality through hand-drawn images, illustrations that communicate exactly how their kitchen will look and feel.
At their first meeting, top of the discussion list were Anns influences, her vision for the house and kitchen as well as the practicalities of the room space. One of the main challenges for Stephen was the narrow doorway leading into the kitchen area, creating a natural obstacle that will always affect final design and unit configuration surrounding the doorframe.
Once that was solved, thoughts turned to the colour palette and perhaps one of the most exciting aspect of any kitchen the gadgets! Taking note from a copy of Country Life magazine that decreed an Aga to be an essential part of any kitchen, Ann worked with Stephen to place wine racks, fridges and other cookery essentials appropriately in order to further enhance the space.
Ashgrove Kitchens involvement didnt end there, however: thanks to Stephens previous building experience, he was soon working on two bathrooms and a bedroom, creating intricate designs using fabulous materials -in the bathrooms case, Jerusalem limestone complete with fossils that are millions of years old.
As for rest of the house, it was at the Annual Devon County Show that the Briggs found many of their suppliers, including West Country Door and Gate, whose crafted gates greet guests, set within an impressive wall built using Seaton flint from Devons only remaining flint quarry.
Anns son-in-law, Jason Park of Living Property in Surrey also worked closely with Exmouth architects Paul Humphries to reverse the house, so what was the rear is now the impressive front. These designs were then brought to life by Budleigh Salterton builders CBS, who proved exceptional builders, according to Ann, in particular the CBS carpenter Wayne Philips, who did the green oak work in the garden room, kitchen extension, upstairs living room and outside gazebo.


It was natural for Ann and Peter that, in a time of recession, they employ the services of the countys craftsmen, helping support Devons economy while creating a home that has a real story running through its veins

To the left of the house lies a new green-oak garage and workshop construction, blending perfectly with the main house thanks to Acorn Buildings of North Devon. Stride up to the front door and there lies another piece of beautiful craftsmanship thanks to Westgrove Joinery of neighbouring village Colaton Raleigh. Where once was a dilapidated door, now hangs a solid oak door incorporating some of the 100-year-old glass pieces uncovered by the Briggses.
Step inside and before you stands another of Westgroves wonderful creations - a dramatic solid oak staircase that, thanks to its magnificence, even took Westgroves owner by surprise! Once summited, the first floor drawing room lies ahead, featuring a fantastic all-glass balcony.
The unobscured views toward Lyme Bay and the River Exe make it a real triumph in design and proved a first for MPS Windows of Exmouth. It also allows one to fully appreciate the handiwork of Master Thatcher Geoff Collyer.
While a Kevin McCloud-type summary would not go amiss, theres actually not much more to be said of this unique renovation project. A triumphant outcome thanks to the coming together of best-in-class Devonshire-based craftsmen and professionals. Or in the words of Ashgrove Kitchens Stephen Bottomley, An absolute privilege to be part of. n

Ashgrove Kitchens quality handmade and lovingly crafted bespoke kitchens are made by their designers, craftspeople and fitters in Crediton, near Exeter. Visit ashgrovekitchens.co.uk

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