rom the moment you step into the black painted and larch-clad building that is Barford Beach House, you are captured by the playful interiors that manage to balance an eccentricity of style with beautiful finishes. Barford Beach House is the work of Ken and Illona Aylmer and their family – who number Barford as their third adventure in self-building and by far their most extensive. Sitting on cliffs close to the surfing hotspot of north Cornwall’s famous Widemouth Bay, it features six ensuite bedrooms, a sauna, its own cinema room, a huge master suite featuring a brass bath and bespoke boat-inspired wooden bar – and a secret bunker-style games room with its own bar in the cellar. Outside there are views of breaking surf and access to a small secluded beach which can be best enjoyed from the large upstairs terraces linking the bedrooms, the landscaped gardens or the outdoor wood fired hot tub (protected by a windbreak created from an eight metre-long railway track found in the grounds). Here there is also an abandoned fishing boat installed into the grounds of the house which previously featured as part of Luke Jerram’s Withdrawn art installation project in Bristol’s Leigh Woods and now doubles as a fun play house. The grounds are also home to a vintage Airstream motorhome which has been decked out as an extra bedroom.

A LABOUR OF LOVE It has taken two years to create this stunning new home, which was completed in June 2017. The new property follows a similar


footprint of the building that originally sat on the site – a typically uninspiring beige 1930s seaside bungalow that was begging to be bulldozed. But the original idea looked very different and had involved keeping some of the existing structure. “It was an old bungalow with a bedroom,” says Ken Aylmer. “Our plan was to put another floor on top.” Once they looked at actually doing it, it became clear they were going to have to take off the roof and cut out sections of the wall to put down steel supports – and there would be nothing left.

So they went back to the drawing board to

create the stunning new build – although Ken has paid homage to the old building by recreating the original bedroom in the same ground floor spot. A second floor provides the sleeping space for the family. Outside, the house is finished with larch wood cladding, which will soften to a silver colour, and a dramatic black render – something the architect had doubts about. “We hadn’t thought about the outside,” admits Ken. “The architect’s design had white render and timber but when I looked at it, it kind of irked me and I thought of dark blue or even black, and there was quite a lot of um-ing and ah-ing with the architect. Now nobody can visualise it any other way – and it really goes with the windows.”

As you might expect for a house built on the coast, plenty of opportunities have been taken to make the most of the light, from the double height zinc-clad glass entrance atrium where a collection of former 1960s Paris street ‘bauble’

september/october 2017


Letting their three children loose to find the secret bunker, a room only accessed through a hidden tunnel in the cinema room. The room was a late addition not included in the original plans. The secret underground games room/bar features leather banquette seating and retro arcade games. “It’s totally over the top,” Ken admits.

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