Discover this contemporary extension on a traditional stone cottage built for under £500k

A timber cladded home with wall to ceiling windows
The extension uses a range of materials to provide comfort and warmth to the house such as handmade terracotta pamment tiles, red western cedar, and Douglas fir infill panels (Image credit: RIBA)

In Devon's picturesque landscape, a remarkable transformation has unfolded as this stone cottage has undergone an incredible timber-frame extension.

Despite its unassuming size, this extension "vastly improved the usability and flexibility of the existing cottage" as well as the eco-performance of the cottage with its contemporary innovation and use of interesting materials.

The 69m2 extension called "Made of Sand" (named after a historic sandpit the property sits on), provides an example of how building an extension can drastically alter your home for the better.

Adding a modern layer to history

A living room with timber cladded walls and large window with a sitting area incorporated in the wall

The upper floor living room provides amazing views of the Blackdown Hills from its picture window (Image credit: RIBA)

The architects, Studio Weave, substituting a worn-down garage and workshop, in order to adopt an L-shaped wrap around extension positioned at the rear of the existing house, where a one-storey kitchen takes its place. 

The two-storey extension ascends along its gable end, featuring a ground-floor bedroom and an upper-level living room. 

Large glazed openings connect the interior to the picturesque landscape, framing views of the surrounding Blackdown Hills.

Thermal performance improved 'enormously'

Above the timber cladded walls there are windows looking onto the outside and providing light

The extension uses a timber frame as well as utilising a variety of materials to keep the home well insulated (Image credit: RIBA)

The collaboration between the builder, joiner, and architect is evident in the extension's construction, which not only created a comfortable living space, but also helped improve the energy saving potential of the house. 

The heavily insulated timber frame extension, both exposed internally and externally, lends the new spaces a strong and distinctive character.

Je Ahn, founding director of Studio Weave, stated his favourite feature of the house was "warmth and craftsmanship" but also "how the new extension vastly improved the usability and flexibility of the existing cottage while increasing its thermal performance enormously".

Handmade terracotta pamment tiles and red western cedar cladding used throughout

Brick floors in an upstairs entrance room to the extension with overhead light coming from the slanted roof

Douglas fir infill panels (used to fill the gaps or spaces in a structure) provide shelving and window seats whilst handmade terracotta pamment tiles can be seen in the kitchen (Image credit: RIBA)

A warm palette of materials ties the old and new structures together seamlessly.

Handmade terracotta pamment tiles (reddish-brown clay tiles) and rust-coloured clay plaster walls are found throughout the extension. Douglas fir infill panels serve a dual purpose, forming wall linings and creating built-in shelving and window seats.

Externally, red western cedar timber cladding, adorned with a playful geometric design, provides high durability as well as resistance to decay.

Weathering a silvery hue, the cottage extension now sits within the landscape, whilst blending with the existing stone cottage.

Project shows 'why you should employ an architect'

The bedroom has a large window overlooking a stone wall and timber cladded walls

The extension won the RIBA South West Small Project of the Year Award 2023 due to its craftmanship and energy saving materials (Image credit: RIBA)

The success of "Made of Sand" lies in the collaborative approach taken by the client, local craftsmen (including a cob building specialist), and the architect.

The project won the RIBA South West Small Project of the Year Award 2023, for an extension built for under £500,000, with the House of the Year jury stating: "This project is a fantastic example of why you should employ an architect.

"The extension is not only successful in its own right, but offers huge benefit to the host cottage, massively reducing heat loss through the existing fabric. Materials and craft play a key role in anchoring Made of Sand in its setting."

Joseph Mullane
News Editor

News Editor Joseph has previously written for Today’s Media and Chambers & Partners, focusing on news for conveyancers and industry professionals.  Joseph has just started his own self build project, building his own home on his family’s farm with planning permission for a timber frame, three-bedroom house in a one-acre field. The foundation work has already begun and he hopes to have the home built in the next year. Prior to this he renovated his family's home as well as doing several DIY projects, including installing a shower, building sheds, and livestock fences and shelters for the farm’s animals. Outside of homebuilding, Joseph loves rugby and has written for Rugby World, the world’s largest rugby magazine.