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A replacement Wealden-style oak frame country home in Kent

The Kentish Weald is the area of South East England from the North Downs dropping away onto Romney Marsh and through to the coast, and it is also where our client, Stuart Wilkie, set his sights on constructing his dream home.

The building that occupied the plot of land that Stuart purchased in the hillsides was just above Edenbridge and comprised an early 20th century house in a very poor state of repair.

“My mind was made up to demolish the existing house on the site rather than refurbish, when I fell through the first floor due to the woodworm infested joists,” explains Stuart.

Project Details

  • Kent
  • Country style
  • 592m2
  • Self build
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Choosing to build with oak

Stuart began his self-build journey by researching into the type of home he wanted to create. During this process, an oak frame came up as not only one of the most naturally durable building materials but brought with it a history of English buildings and aesthetic appeal that lent itself to the existing surrounds. With this in mind, he shopped around and shortlisted three oak framing companies, visiting their workshops and weighing up their attributes.

Having met with our teams, Stuart liked the high standard of our design work, our combination of innovation and tradition, and the quality of our workmanship on show.

“They have a can-do attitude, openness and excellent team spirit,” says Stuart.

With the upheaval he was going to be bringing to his new neighbourhood; the re-profiling of the hill to accommodate the house, drive and gardens, Stuart decided early on that he would produce a weekly newsletter explaining progress, problems, activity and deliveries planned for the upcoming seven days to his neighbours.

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Key design features

What Stuart and his wife have carved into the Kent hillside is nothing short of magnificent. It is hard to imagine now the dilapidated early 20th century building that stood here before their new home.

The front doorway leads quickly into a large vaulted hall, which is the centre piece of this oak framed home. It immediately feels like it is the connector for the whole structure, as there is a door from this space to everywhere else in the building. On stepping through a small coat room, the enormity of the dining room and the sliding balcony doors leading out onto the spacious gardens and the sweeping views of the Kentish Weald take your breath away. Off the dining room, which has its own wonderful chimney breast focal point, to the right sits a modern kitchen that hosts its own views of the stunning Kent countryside to complement. To the left of the dining room, there is an almost open-plan feel to the enormous entrance space that leads you to the lounge, with its open fire and cosy sitting room beyond and to the far side.

As you retrace your steps and return to the dining room, you are hit once more by the enormity of the vaulted hall as it rises above the gallery space and into the upper rooms. Down the polished oak staircase lays a state-of-the-art media room with a beer and wine cellar.

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Back to the front door and upwards this time following the straight lines of the staircase, you head towards that enticing gallery space which benefits from views of the surrounding fields and sheer openness southwards across the Weald. At either end of the gallery lays various bedrooms and bathrooms. Stuart and his wife’s master bedroom is particularly impressive, with its en-suite bathroom feeding from one door and a south-west facing balcony from another.

As you stroll along the top gallery and back towards the main bathroom, the space that is opened up to the rest of this oak frame country home by the construction of the vaulted hall simply opens the home up to the light and allows Stuart and his wife to bask in the surroundings of their home. Here, right in the middle of the gallery, sits a large reclining chair and footstool as a place to take it all in.

Back downstairs, there is a home study which is quietly hidden away from the grandeur of the dining hall. Then, stepping outside you get a true sense of just how much re-profiling of the hillside Stuart had to get done in order to accommodate his new oak frame home. The garage structure to the rear which serves the immediate driveway has a lower level facing the front garden and serves as further storage space.

"Oakwrights have a can-do attitude, openness and excellent team spirit."


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A self-build project management experience

Stuart project management the construction of his oak frame country home and notes how much he enjoyed the ‘topping out ceremony’ with our teams once the oak frame had been erected, alongside being on-site each day to see the progress of his build. Since completion, he feels a huge sense of fulfilment as he views the building from different perspectives during the day and again differently as the seasons change.

“As the building settles the oak creaks and cracks on occasions, but my wife and I like to think that this is an ongoing conversation that our home is having with us as it matures,” smiles Stuart.

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