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Grand Designs TV house: 5 unique features from a Georgian folly

From engineered timber floors to embossed fossil stonework, we round up the most unusual features of Jaime and Mimi Fernandez' converted mini castle in Buckinghamshire.


Original article by Grand Designs Magazine

The first installment of the 2018 series of Grand Designs' saw Jaime and Mimi Fernandez, show us how new technology and traditional restoration methods merged to transform a Georgian folly into a unique home.

‘We’ve created a family home but we’ve also restored a local landmark to its former glory – one that lay abandoned for more than two centuries,’ says Mimi.

Here are just a few of the self build ideas the couple have incorporated in their restoration - which you could try yourself.

Engineered timber floors

Grand Designs TV house series 19 episode 1 2018 Georgian folly with salvaged floors -tv-houses-granddesignsmagazine.com

Made from engineered timber, the precision-built staircase features a reclaimed wood look top layer.

If you are trying to match existing or replace damaged floorboards, sourcing reclaimed planks will be useful; although engineered flooring with a reclaimed wood or wood look top layer is less likely to be affected by humidity and heat.

Embedded fossils in stonework

Grand Designs TV house series 19 episode 1 2018 Georgian folly with embossed fossil stone work on the exterior of the house -tv-houses-granddesignsmagazine.com

The foundation stone for Dinton Castle was laid in 1769, but architect Jaime Fernandez has used modern technology to bring the building back to life. Jaime and his wife, Mimi, and their two sons, George, three, and one-year-old Lucas, turned the rundown folly, in Aylesbury Vale Buckinghamshire, originally built by local landowner Sir John Van Hattem as a showcase for his fossils, into a home.

As part of the planning permission process, the local council demanded that Jaime supply details of inaccessible parts of the ruins. So he made a 3D laser scan of the building. ‘Discovering the unlimited applications of this technology and being able to use it in the restoration was a huge accomplishment for me,’ he says. ‘As well as using it for the complex build, it reduced the time and cost of producing the bespoke joinery, staircases and stonework.’

Cosy yet light, thanks to the windows that encircle the space, the exposed walls add texture and interest – some are also embedded with fossils.

Glass balustrade staircase

Grand Designs TV house series 19 episode 1 2018 Georgian folly with outside frameless glass staircase -tv-houses-granddesignsmagazine.com

Access to the front door of the folly was created with a steel and wood with glass balustrade staircase, which complements the mellow ironstone of the walls.

Providing a focal point for the front of the castle and offer an interesting textural contrast to the stonework, it’s just one of the juxtapositions between old and new that characterise the project.

Rooftop vantage point

Grand Designs TV house series 19 episode 1 2018 Georgian folly with a vantage point roof top -tv-houses-granddesignsmagazine.com

The top of the building is almost a second living space in good weather and offers a great vantage point for views.

Exposed walls

Grand Designs TV house series 19 episode 1 2018 Georgian folly inside has stripped back brick walls and exposed beams house -tv-houses-granddesignsmagazine.com

Complementing the reclaimed wood look, the walls have been left exposed to retain the character and rich history.

‘It’s a privilege to live in a building with so much history etched into its walls,’ says Mimi.


Words: Jayne Dowle

The 2018 series of Grand Designs airs Wednesdays on Channel 4 at 9pm.

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