'Breathtaking' Grand Designs mansion goes on the market for £5.95m

‘Breathtaking’ Roman-inspired mansion which appeared on Grand Designs goes on the market for £5.95m – just five years after couple completed ‘dream family home’ that took a DECADE to create

  • Couple Chris and Kayo – who share three children – appeared on the Channel 4 series back in 2017
  • The parents spent six years getting planning permission to build on the land surrounding a historic abbey
  • Although the couple refused to say how much it cost to build, Kevin McCloud estimated they spent £2m 
  • Estate agents Savils described the St Albans property as wonderful contemporary masterpiece’

A ‘breathtaking’ Roman-inspired mansion which appeared on Grand Designs has gone on the market for £5.95m – just five years after the couple completed their ‘dream family home’ that took a decade to create.

Golf coach Chris and ex-figure skater Kayo appeared on the Channel 4 series back in 2017 to document the building of their mansion in St. Albans, south Hertfordshire. 

Before work even began on their ‘passion project’, the pair – who refused to reveal how much they spent building the mansion – found themselves embroiled in a gruelling six-year battle to get planning permission on the protected land surrounding a historic abbey.

The zig-zag shaped house – which comprises of an elaborate timber frame stretching over 557 square metres – then took a further four years to build and has been kitted out with bespoke joinery by an award-winning company that specialises in luxury homes.

As well as two acres of sprawling garden and a mini putting green, the five-bedroom house has its own built-in cinema, three garages and underfloor heating in each and every room.

The couple adopted a minimalist interior style throughout the single-story property – making a feature of the light maple locally sourced wood that they used to build their home.

Couple Chris and Kayo set out to build their dream home on this stretch of protected land surrounding a historic abbey in south Hertfordshire. Pictured: the finished product, which took 10 years to complete. 

The couple made a feature of the light maple locally sourced wood that they used to build their home. They were required to use timber to prevent putting too much pressure on the medieval archeology below the property. Pictured: the owner’s bedroom in 2022

The kitchen leads onto the dining room, which contains a table large enough to fit 10 people around it. Kevin McCloud labelled a ‘part Japanese, part medieval cloister, part Roman villa’ based on the historic location, ancient-inspired architecture and East Asian garden

Although it’s described as a ‘snug’, this living area is big enough to fit 10 people. All of the joinery was designed by an award winning company who specialise in bespoke interiors for luxury homes

Chris and Kayo – pictured with Grand Designs host Kevin McCloud after receiving planning permission – first started plans for their dream family home in 2007. The impressive build took 10 years to complete and has now gone on the market for £5.95. 

Estate agent Savils describes the property as a ‘wonderful contemporary masterpiece in the heart of the city’.

The family home is just one mile from St Albans train station and situated in a ‘highly regarded and exclusive’ cul-de-sac. 

But if that wasn’t convincing enough, Savills also makes a point to include the fact it appeared on Grand Designs in a bid to sway buyers. 

Impressed by the historic location, ancient-inspired architecture and East Asian garden, host Kevin McCloud labelled a ‘part Japanese, part medieval cloister, part Roman villa’.

Walking into the property, the host gushed: ‘This is remarkable, inside it is breath-taking, the light is so soft you can almost touch it. Every surface glows and is pristine. I’m quite overwhelmed by all of this.’ 

In a nod to the surrounding landscape, Chris and Kayo – who share three children – added a sedum roof to tie in with the garden, which was also a hit with the host.

As he walked up to the house, Kevin McCloud described the blend of different designs as ‘breath-taking’. In order to access the property, visitors have to go through a Japanese gate and walk over a ‘moat-like’ water feature

The kitchen – which leads out into the stunning garden – has been kitted out with a full range of Wold Sub Zero appliances which can cost upwards of £5,000 – to make the property as energy efficient as possible. Estate agent Savils says the breakfast bar is ideal for ‘preparing food on the go’

The maple wood that lines the floor has also been used for the living room shelves too. The fire place is built into the wall and topped with greenery

Rather than having corridors between each of the rooms, Savils describes how the modern property has ‘connecting spaces have been designed at double width to allow art or collections to be displayed with space to contemplate.’ Pictured: the area behind the front door, complete with electric blinds

After completing his tour of the finished house, Kevin said: ‘Organically inspired, geometric craftsmanship that hits you between the eyes. Futuristic and historic-it’s hugely successful.’ 

Despite claiming they couldn’t ‘remember’ how much the plot of land had cost – with estimates running into six figures – the couple revealed they had set themselves an initial building budget of £600,000.

Although the owners refused to say how much the project had cost them in total, Kevin estimated that it was probably around the £2m mark following years of delays. 

The property – which backs onto the River Ver – also has a ‘snug’ big enough to comfortably fit 10 people.

After six years of waiting to get planning permission, the couple asked their architectural designer Rogan, to help them realise their dream. Each room in the house – including the living space pictured – has underfloor heating 

Tucked away in one of the ‘connecting spaces’, the couple have placed a smaller eating area away from the more formal setting of the dining room. The property has been described by Savils as a ‘wonderful contemporary masterpiece’

A spa-inspired bathroom – complete with a bath and shower – can be accessed via a sliding door from one of the multiple living spaces. Plants are placed in almost every corner of the property in a nod to the natural landscape

The maple wooden study overlooks the Japanese putting green and allows the resident to see into the other side of the property. 

The single-story property is situated within two acres of open space. Part of the reason the couple were granted planning permission was to prevent local youths from drinking, taking drugs and leaving litter on the strip of ‘wasteland’.

Rather than having corridors between each of the rooms, Savils describes how the modern property has ‘connecting spaces have been designed at double width to allow art or collections to be displayed with space to contemplate.’

What’s more, electric blinds have been installed in each room to make the most of the sunlight and the property can only be accessed by going through a Japanese gate and crossing a ‘moat-like’ water feature.

The kitchen has been kitted out with a full range of Wolf Sub Zero appliances – which can cost upwards of £5,000 – to make the property as energy efficient as possible.

In order to avoid obscuring the abbey, Chris and Kayo restricted their family home to just one storey and used timber to prevent putting too much pressure on the archeology below the property.

Part of the reason the couple were granted planning permission was to prevent local youths from drinking, taking drugs and leaving litter on the strip of ‘wasteland’.

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