Sensitive and Sustainable

PUBLISHED: 15:08 20 October 2008 | UPDATED: 15:32 20 February 2013

Orchard Cottage is built from local materials

Orchard Cottage is built from local materials

In our November issue we visit a newly built property called The Orchard that is a pristine and energy-efficient home

Sensitive and Sustainable

Rebecca Matthews explores a newly built property that makes a distinctive and energy-efficient home

Polgooth is located on the edge of St Austell, a short distance from the dramatic coastline of Cornwall's south coast and the beautiful fishing village of Mevagissey. Formerly a prominent tin-mining area, the charm of the small village can be found both in its rich heritage and scenic rural surroundings.

A recent development by Rosemullion Homes, The Orchard, is ideally positioned. Overlooking an expanse of open fields, the natural development of just two houses, Orchard House and Orchard Cottage, occupies land which was formerly an orchard and later the garden to the Old Manor.

Director of Rosemullion Homes, Roger Carson, was enthused by the prospect of this wonderful location. "I was certainly drawn to the attractive village setting," he comments. For owner Jeremy Harris, who moved into his new home in May this year, the location was perfect. "I liked the fact that Polgooth is an attractive, quiet Cornish village close to commuting routes but with a sense of being out of the way."

It was important to develop a property that was in keeping with the surrounding area. Much attention has clearly been paid to Polgooth's architecture. As Roger says, "We were able to take architectural influences from the older buildings nearby." Although each property has an individual character, both Orchard House and Orchard Cottage blend perfectly into their setting. Furthermore, neither property appears brand new; at first glance, it seems as though the houses have been in this small rural enclave for some years.

It is hard to believe that Orchard Cottage is less than 12 months old, for the house has the warm and distinctive character of a more mature property. Encircled by a traditional Cornish hedge, the deep grey of the granite contrasts with an array of colourful wild flowers, the house has a sense of country splendour and intimate charm.

The front and sides of the house are built from local stone, their brown, red and grey hues lending it warmth, together with its reclaimed slate roof. Cornish granite is a strong feature: granite pillars support the elegant porch, with its lead-dressed roof, while large granite slabs are used as lintels above the ground-floor windows. An oak front door beckons guests inside.

The property's most striking feature, however, is the splendid chimneystack, also built of local stone. The natural combination of colour, texture and locally sourced materials are the main source of its charm, and this enticing exterior proved to be very attractive to Jeremy. "I particularly liked the fact that the property had an 'old' feel from the outside, with its stone walls."

Like its neighbour, Orchard House, it has a bedded-in feel and the cottage's large landscaped garden has many mature trees, hedges and shrubs, while the lush expanse of lawn and a patio make private and peaceful spots for al fresco relaxation.

Despite the property's snug and lived-in appearance, cross the threshold and it's instantly apparent that Orchard Cottage benefits from the conveniences of a modern home. The entrance hall sets the tone for the rest of the interior: spacious, airy and open, the central staircase and landing creates a focal point for the house. The colour scheme is clean and neutral, the styling elegant and understated, and the character of the house is enhanced.

The kitchen is a large, light and airy space, the fittings sleek and stylish. A series of ceiling lights, which can be found in many of the rooms, are complemented by lighting beneath the kitchen cupboards. The pale wood furnishings coordinate with the tones of the floor tiles, while the Cornish granite worktops echo the silver flashes in the tones of the fittings. The mixture of soft neutrals, metal and wood gives the room a chic and contemporary style.

This theme continues throughout the house: a colour scheme of soft beige, clotted cream and clean white, with the odd flourish of chocolate brown, works beautifully in the huge galleried landing. The four spacious bedrooms, decorated with the odd splash of vibrant colour, are inviting and relaxing rooms.

The size of the lounge does nothing to hinder its cosy charm; the atmosphere is created by a series of up-lights, while the wood-burning stove gives the room a touch of classic design. Each door in the house is made of solid wood, and the bathrooms, one being en-suite, have cool, white natural-coloured tiles and silver fittings.

The modern interiors, facilities and level of comfort are undoubtedly those of a new property, while ecological benefits ensure the running costs are dramatically lower than that of an older house.

Sustainability is one of the Orchard development's key initiatives, and can be counted as one of the first private developments in Cornwall to be constructed using ground-source heat-pump technology. Fortunately, the county's geology makes it one of the best areas in the country to implement it.

Manufactured by Worcester Bosch, the ground- source heat pump taps into Cornwall's bed rock of granite from a collector, which is fed into a borehole between 60m and 200m deep. This provides natural and renewable energy to power the property's underfloor heating and hot water at a fraction of the average running costs. Indeed, Worcester Bosch estimates that the ground-floor heating will cost half that of a conventional gas-fired heating system. Furthermore, it is estimated that the property will save approximately 2.3 tonnes of carbon per year, compared to a house with a standard heating system.

A further ecological feature is the energy-efficient wood-burning stove in the lounge, which provides warmth for the house and gives it a focal point. It is filled regularly with firewood from old trees that is kept in a log store in the garden.

The large oak water butt in the garden collects rainwater from the roof and is used for watering, while a selection of newly planted fruit trees will provide produce in the future. A high level of insulation has been added to the walls, floors and roof.

The sustainability issue proved a further draw for its new owner. "The eco-credentials were not the main reason for buying but the benefits, in particular the ground-source heating, certainly made the property more attractive." So far he has been enjoying these advantages. "The heating works very well, there's constant hot water and the temperature regulation is fantastic. We are now looking forward to the promised cost savings!"

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