Tour this contemporary self-build home in the Cotswolds

A rare opportunity led Alan Moug and Andrew White to build their dream home from scratch – a low-energy, contemporary country pad in the Cotswolds. KBB journo Charlotte Luxford chats with the homeowners and their designer Oliver Leech Architects to get all the details.

From busy central London to an eco self-built home in the countryside – what could be more relaxing? With the help of designer Oliver Leech, the project took 15 months to complete. Scroll down to discover more about the whole process…

Self build home with wooden panelling and stone details with large windows.
The new-build, low-energy home was designed by Oliver Leech Architects.

Planning a self-build home

It was 10 years in the making, but Alan Moug and Andrew White have finally achieved their goal of creating a forever home from scratch. Their dream? A low-energy, 21st-century country house, which is perfect for parties and social gatherings.

They bought an unassuming 1980s bungalow in the village of Stourton, using it as a weekend escape from the Big Smoke and they let it out part-time for several years before moving in for good. Alan and Andrew had always wanted to leave London, drawn increasingly towards the calmer pace of country life.

Andrew grew up in the Cotswolds – but the pandemic was the tipping point. So, they decided it was time to leave their flat in Pimlico and embark on their dream project.

Soft grey-green kitchen with stainless-steel appliance and modern fixing, featuring two men in the kitchen drinking tea.
Stainless steel appliances and contemporary fixtures add interest to the muted kitchen.

“For years we’d been looking for a house with potential and a good sized garden, but these are often sold privately in this area,” says Andrew. “When the bungalow came on the market it caught our eye, but what really struck the deal was the land beyond the garden, which at some point had been disassociated from the house and wasn’t on the land registry.”

Self build home with a large open-plan kitchen and dining room, which leads out to the garden.
The kitchen mixes materials like stone flooring from Beswick Stone and oak cabinetry from Hush Kitchens.

The plans

The couple tracked down the former family landowners one by one. They asked to buy back their individual pockets of land, which totalled an acre. The next challenge was gaining permission for a self-build home that was double the size of the former property. To achieve their vision of a sleek, low-energy home, they enlisted architect Oliver Leech, whom a friend had recommended.

“Oliver blew everyone out of the water and absolutely nailed the initial meeting by arriving with a moodboard of how he’d perceived the brief and what he thought we’d like,” explains Andrew. “He’d researched the village, understood the potential planning issues and knew more about our taste and style than we did.” 

Grey-green kitchen with large island and granite countertop and pendant lights, featuring two men drinking tea.
The architectural pendant lights above the island are from Hector Finch.

Inspired by architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s words, “of the hill, not on the hill”, Oliver designed a highly insulated, prefabricated timber-framed self-build home. It nestles discreetly into the sloping site; sinking the bedrooms into the hillside below the living spaces so the guest wing appears as a single-storey building from the street.

Oliver designed the property in collaboration with a specialist timber-frame technician before each panel was built in a factory in Coventry and erected on site in under two weeks. The project started in March 2020 and was completed by August 2021.

Self-build home with a hidden utility room with a butlers sink off the kitchen area.
Tucked behind the grand stainless-steel fridge is a neat utility room.

Creating the eco self-build home

The plan was always to design a low-energy home, with a low embodied carbon footprint. “It has triple-glazed windows and is packed with insulation, which is one simple strategy to achieve an efficient energy-performance rating,” says Oliver. “The house is supported with solar power and an air-source heat pump, meaning it uses less energy than a typical new build. We also used local suppliers wherever possible, including cladding from Cotswold Stone Quarries.

Wooden bookcase with a large window and a hidden door to a drinks area.
A deep, oak window seat with custom shutters wraps around the library.

Andrew and Alan wanted a contemporary style but a traditional fire, a big AGA and plenty of room for entertaining. Oliver answered their brief with an enormous 48 m sq, gallery-style living room. The library, frequently used for pre-dinner drinks, sits behind it. The pièce de résistance is the bar tucked behind a secret bookcase, where the couple enjoys an after-dinner tipple.

Large dining and sitting room with a beautiful view out to the Cotswolds
The sitting room has a large dining table with a comfortable seating area for guests.

“In summer we throw the doors open and live on the surrounding terraces, which are great for entertaining,” says Andrew. “Between the kitchen and the garden is a purpose-built loggia, with the main bedroom suite above. The huge overhang makes it feel like an open-sided room, with enough space to seat 10. It catches the sunset and overlooks the garden and the traditional cottages at the bottom of the lane  – the view really packs a punch.” 

self build home with a large master bedroom with soft brown tones and large windows
Andrew and Alan’s pared-back bedroom has a bedside pendant by Lodes and lined cotton curtains by Prêt à Vivre.

Oliver’s words of wisdom for a sustainable home

  • It’s important to take a holistic approach to sustainability. When we’re designing a new project, we think about integrating greener solutions. That includes orientation for maximum natural light and energy efficiency, designing for passive solar heating and cooling, and utilising renewable energy sources.
  • Consider investing in an Air Source Heat Pump (ASHP). In the long term, they’re extremely cost-effective. To make ASHPs worth it and to prevent heat loss, you’ll need to ensure the building is well-insulated and airtight.
  • For an eco self-build home consider using materials like reclaimed wood, recycled steel, and low-VOC paints and research locally sourced materials. 
  • Explore the potential of innovative materials that minimise the carbon footprint.
self build home with a big ensuite with a large marble bath tub and a wooden vanity unit
Marble-clad bath by OmniTub and brass taps and shower head by Studio Ore.
Large dual basin unit with fluted vanity unit
The bespoke vanity cabinets, by Weymont & Wylie, feature a beautiful fluted finish.

As originally told to: Charlotte Luxford | Photography: Jim Stephenson

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