18 Mar 2020

A walk on the contemporary side


For Frank and Wendy Bradshaw, building their new home at Park Gwyn meant the fulfilment of a long-held ambition to return to St Stephen near St Austell. Frank had previously run a Cornish pasty factory in the area, and although the couple had moved away, they were excited to return to the village, where they have friends and family.


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The couple turned to Ian Burley of Burley Construction and placed their trust in his vision to create their dream home. The company had built St Martin’s Hotel in the Isles of Scilly and has a passion for creating buildings that blend harmoniously within their natural environment.

“Ian Burley immediately understood what we had in mind,” said Frank, “and we put our faith in his vision and capability. With his impressive portfolio, we knew we could trust him to deliver.”

Commenting on the build, Ian said: “The brief from Frank and Wendy was unusually open. They said, ‘We will leave it all up to you’. This was of course immensely exciting, as well as carrying a huge responsibility to make sure I delivered a home they would love. From the outset, I saw the project as a ‘Grand Design’. This was an opportunity to build a completely bespoke, top-of-the-range home. I wanted to create a house that was contemporary yet classic, with clean, fresh lines, and making the most of its glorious outlook over the Cornish countryside.”

Brimming with features

The new-build dormer bungalow is a 390m2 timber frame property with many spectacular features such as vaulted ceilings, a frameless glass balcony and a dramatic helical staircase. A modern feel is created by the combination of glass, Anthracite Grey RAL 7016 and stainless steel. This is offset by the wood-effect Amtico vinyl flooring in a herringbone pattern, which is used throughout.

Ian recalls: “As soon as I saw the building plot, I immediately had a clear design concept in mind, and I conveyed this to the architects, RA Design in St Ives. They grasped the idea immediately, and the whole process of drawing up and signing off the architectural plans was completed with only two meetings – far fewer than would normally be expected.”

Frank adds: “The plot is in a peaceful location in St Stephen backing onto the playing fields of our grandson’s school, with views of the countryside beyond. There was an existing bungalow on the site, so we bought the property planning to demolish the old bungalow and replace it with a new build.”

The process

Ian continues: “Planning permission was very straightforward as there was the existing bungalow on the site. It was completed within a few weeks. Once the old bungalow had been demolished and removed, the disused mine shaft on the site was capped and the pilings needed for the foundations followed. After these groundworks had completed, we started on the build in the spring of 2019, and the Bradshaws moved into their new home in November 2019; just as they had hoped.

“The timber frame was supplied by Frame UK. Normally, a timber frame can be erected in three days, but this one took over five weeks as it was so large and included no less than 48 pieces of steel for the vaulted ceilings. Once it was up, we could really see the house starting to come together.”

State-of-the-art materials

The house includes underfloor heating downstairs with radiators upstairs, all powered by an air source heat pump, so it is environmentally-friendly, and there is no need for oil or gas at the property. Ian comments: “The current Government grants towards air source heat pumps mean that these can pay for themselves within seven years. This was a great choice of eco heating for the property, and the house is toasty.”

“The property was built in accordance with Passivhaus principles to create the most comfortable living environment with minimal energy inputted,” adds Frank.

Commenting on material specification, Frank explained: “Two principles guided us. Firstly, we wanted everything to be high quality and top of the range. Secondly, we wanted everything to be practical. For example, our choice of Amtico vinyl flooring throughout was driven by it being so easy to maintain.

“Overall, the house reflects its Cornish heritage throughout. The roof is natural slate, and there is Cornish granite on the steps outside both the front and rear doors.”

Striking staircase

Creating a dramatic centrepiece for the house is a feature staircase designed, manufactured and installed by Spiral UK of Helston.

Ian says: “We wanted to create a sensational feature, rather than just a functional staircase, and I knew Spiral UK would be able to deliver a staircase with a real wow factor. We considered some alternative ideas before settling on the final design we chose.” This design is a helical (curved) fabricated steel staircase with painted treads and stringers in Anthracite Grey RAL 7016. The treads have an Amtico vinyl finish which matches the rest of the flooring throughout the house. The staircase is enhanced by a toughened glass panel balustrade with a tubular satin polished stainless-steel handrail and uprights. The theme is continued by the matching balustrade to the stairwell and landing area.

Ian says: “The stringers on the staircase really zing out as they have such a lovely polished shine. They denote each tread as you look at the staircase. It is a fantastic centrepiece for the house, and the matching balustrade to the stairwell and landing area means everything flows seamlessly, creating a sense of airiness and space.”

Eric Nicholls, MD of Spiral UK, adds: “At Spiral UK, every single staircase is bespoke. Our team consider the overall design of the house and the client’s vision as well as all practical considerations. For the Bradshaws' home, we investigated a range of possible designs before settling on this one as the ideal solution. One unusual aspect is that the treads are bolted to the stringers as part of the design rather than welded in place. This creates an interesting visual feature. We are also really proud of the way the stunning combination of modern materials and paint finishes creates a dramatic effect and the way the staircase integrates with the rest of the house.”

Seamless aesthetics

This streamlined approach continues throughout the house and is even reflected in the way the TV screens are incorporated into the design. The 85” screen in the main living area is flush with the walls and complemented by the fireplace beneath, which is exactly the same size as the TV so that they appear to merge seamlessly into each other. Even the gutters are seamless with no joints at all, which reduces the likelihood of leaks as well as having a clean appearance.

The kitchen was designed and fitted by Varcurn Marble, with top-of-the-range units and an impressive island. Ian says: “Although the Bradshaws were again happy to leave this to me, I did ask for Wendy’s involvement in specifying the kitchen as this is such a personal choice. The kitchen has turned out to be the heart of the home.”

The upstairs of the property is further enhanced by the stunning vaulted windows that go right up to the ridge beam. There is also a frameless glass balcony accessible from the landing in between the two bedrooms. Ian says: “This overlooks the school playing fields, with rolling Cornish fields and woodland beyond. Frank and Wendy will be able to take in the glorious views whilst being close by to their grandson, Harley, who is at the school.”

Talking of the exterior, Frank said: “We are waiting until the spring before we work on the garden. The lawn is laid to grass and will provide a backdrop to shrubs and plants – we still have the fun of choosing plants ahead! When we develop the garden further, we are likely to look at the kind of plants that thrive in the Cornish climate as well as make use of local natural materials – so more use of granite and natural slate and plants such as hardy exotics.”

One of a kind

The Bradshaws were thrilled to move into their new house in early November 2019. Frank says: “For us, this really is coming home. Our house at Park Gwyn encapsulates everything we love about Cornwall living – the sense of airiness, the superb craftsmanship and the slightly quirky, unique style.”

Ian agrees: “This house is completely bespoke. There is no other house quite like it anywhere in Cornwall.”

“Our neighbours love the new house – it has replaced an old bungalow, and the new build has improved the area,” says Frank. “Overall, the property is even better than we could have imagined – there’s nothing we would have done differently!”

When asked if he had any advice for other budding home-builders, Frank responded: “I would advise them to make sure they use excellent suppliers and to trust them and go with their recommendations.”

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