Couple’s dream Georgian home becomes star of the show

Case Studies, General

When Duncan and Susan Marshall decided to knock down their bungalow and replace it with a grand Georgian style house, their ambitious plans caught the eye of the team behind Channel Four’s ‘Building the Dream’. Presenter and architect Charlie Luxton followed every step of the Marshalls’ journey and within a year, they were living in their dream home.Couple’s dream Georgian home becomes star of the show

After marrying in 2001, joiner Duncan and teacher Susan thought nothing of regularly moving house. However, when their two boys came along, they realised that it was time to settle down. Duncan had always dreamed of building his own house, so when a bungalow with a large plot of land came up for sale, the couple decided to buy it.

In terms of location, the Marshalls’ new home ticked all the boxes. Situated in the affluent suburbs of Wycombe, it was close to Susan’s school and within easy driving distance of Gateshead and Newcastle. The couple initially planned to live in the bungalow for a year before demolishing it, but within a few months, they were itching to replace it with their “forever home.”

When it came to designing their ideal house, Duncan and Susan focused on creating a property that would capture Georgian grandeur while functioning as a modern home. So while the timber-framed house would feature pillars at the front, a stylishly tiled entrance and a formal sitting room, it would also include an open plan living area with a bespoke kitchen and cosy family lounge.

Plans for the second floor of this impressive property included an open plan master bedroom spanning the full length of the loft, a huge dressing room and four generously sized ensuite bedrooms.

As an experienced builder and director of Foreman North East, Duncan Marshall aimed to build his new house in just ten months. However, the project faced problems from the start, as a warren of ancient coal seams were discovered 16 metres below ground. Before laying the foundations, the ground needed to be stabilised by filling it with a concrete mixture; a job which was predicted to cost up to thirty thousand pounds.

This unexpected bill meant that the Marshalls had to try and save money elsewhere. Fortunately, television presenter and architect Charlie Luxton was on hand to help. After looking at the couple’s plans, he suggested losing one ensuite and turning the third bedroom’s ensuite into a family bathroom. He also recommended using eggshell paint to create a panelled effect in the family living room, as this would reduce the amount of real wood panelling required.

As well as helping the Marshalls to save money, Charlie Luxton was keen to help them achieve a balance between contemporary and Georgian design. Singling out the wraparound kitchen window as a particularly non-Georgian feature, he suggested getting rid of the window and widening the kitchen. This would allow the family to enjoy more light and better views of the garden.Couple’s dream Georgian home becomes star of the show

The presenter also recommended changing the staircase balustrade, as including a metal rod in every fifth spindle would keep the spindles light and thin in true Georgian style.Couple’s dream Georgian home becomes star of the show

Sustainability was a key part of the Marshalls’ plans for their new home and the construction of its timber frame allowed for extra insulation, offsetting the property’s glazing. The house also incorporates a rainwater harvesting system which collects rainwater and uses it to flush the toilets.

While the process of building Susan and Duncan’s new home presented major challenges, the combined experience of Duncan and site surveyor Paul Anderson enabled them to come up with solutions that worked. The result is a stunning family home that was nominated for the LABC Northern Best Individual New Home Award in 2016.

Project Team


Foreman North East Ltd,


ARP Design, 0191 490 1155

Building Control

Gateshead Building Control, 0191 433 3464

Homeowner Guide

Tyne & Wear Guide to Renovating Your Home

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