Developer loved his Grand Designs home so much he couldn’t bear to sell it

Property developer Paul Templeton spent two years making his dream home a reality (Picture: Jim Stephenson/

With an unassuming, low-slung structure and a wildflower-covered roof that acts as discreet camouflage to blend into its overlooked setting, Hove House is a property that thinks about the neighbours just as much as the inhabitants.

Paul Templeton, who owns this unique single-storey home in Brighton and Hove, is a property developer by trade – and, no, the irony is not lost on him.

‘I once went to a comedy club in Brighton and found that our seats were right next to the stage,’ he laughs.

‘Within a couple of minutes the comedian on stage asked me what I did for a living and loads of people booed me.

‘I’m aware we are not the most loved profession around but a few of us are trying to do the right thing.’

Hove House features on tomorrow night’s Grand Designs: House Of The Year (Picture: Jim Stephenson)
Yep, that’s a pool (Picture: Jim Stephenson)

In a city of mega-extensions and super basements that often couldn’t care less for their surroundings, Hove House stands almost alone with its low roofline and sleek, mid-century modernist-inspired proportions.

Paul and his company, Baobab Developments, specialise in creating properties with a clear architectural slant and the plot where the house stands was one of many planned for a lucky customer.

Shortly after plans were drawn up, though, Paul and wife Maria Giron decided that this one was just too special to sell on. ‘It was when we got the CGIs back through and I was looking through with my wife, we started thinking: wouldn’t it be great if we could have it?’ he explains.

‘What I try to achieve in all our developments is a sense of sanctuary. It was a lovely, private plot and designed around a central courtyard.

‘When it started emerging out of the ground I liked the idea of peace and nature.

‘We always knew it was special. Once I saw architects Turner Works’ design I realised it was one of a kind.’ Completed in July 2019, Hove House took around two years from the start of planning to realisation.

The property features in tomorrow night’s Grand Designs: House Of The Year (Wednesdays at 9pm on Channel 4 – episodes are also available to stream via All 4), which sees Kevin McCloud, architect Damion Burrows and design expert Michelle Ogundehin visit the stunning homes all hoping to be crowned RIBA House Of The Year 2021.

Paul’s vision was to create the antithesis of some of the showiness and grandeur that he saw in some properties in the area. The proportions needed to be very generous, with a lot of light coming through and the feeling of being a cool, calm space.

The property is filled with light (Picture: Jim Stephenson)
Paul wanted to create the antithesis of grandeur he saw in other properties (Picture: Jim Stephenson)
The low roof and simple brick façade help it blend into the surrounding countryside (Picture: Jim Stephenson)

Although hemmed in by surrounding properties, the idea was to create something that was not only harmonious for neighbours but also created its own secret space.

The three simple brick sides of the building surround a courtyard complete with swimming pool, which can be accessed from all living spaces. ‘My wife is Spanish and Spain has a grand tradition of courtyard houses so that came into the mix, then there is that Japanese feel, almost monastic – a sense of space and order and light,’ Paul says.

‘Around where I live it’s quite blingy and I wanted something more modest – if a 5,000sq ft house can be – that was respectful of the neighbours. It was to be a single storey, rather than trying to get as much out of the plot as possible.’

Paul wanted the house to be in part a homage to Ludwig Mies van der Rohe – comparisons with the German architect’s Barcelona Pavillion are hard to ignore – and it is the same clean-cut modernism inside.

The central courtyard even as a swimming pool (Picture: Jim Stephenson)
So minimalist (Picture: Jim Stephenson)
Paul wanted a ‘homley art gallery vibe'(Picture: Jim Stephenson)

‘I’ve always loved art galleries, they give you a sense of space and air and quiet – I tried to steal that in terms of that sensation. White is cool and relaxing. The balance is you don’t want it to not feel homely enough, so when you dress it with plants and artworks it gives it humanity out of this exercise. I guess I’m the opposite of Henry Ford – it can be any colour as long as it’s white.’

Artworks by the likes of Pure Evil, Peter Burke, Charming Baker, Gerald Laing, Bonnie and Clyde and Art+Believe are the adornment in the house. Then there are choice pieces of iconic mid-century furniture such as the Marcel Breuer B3 Wassily chair, Eames DSW dining chairs and Bertoia side chairs round the Eero Saarinen-designed dining table from Knoll.

The kitchen is as minimalist as a piece of paper, designed by German company Bulthaup. On the wall is an artwork by Fredrickson Stallard – long enough to fill the huge blank space.

Elsewhere in the house there is a snug as well as a living room, with wood burner and Togo sofa from Ligne Roset. The house flows seamlessly and has a sense of community and attachment that has been lost in many multi-level properties.

Speaking of the nomination for House Of The Year, Paul is naturally delighted. ‘We set out to create real architecture and to be longlisted shows we set out what we wanted to achieve,’ he says.

And has Paul got his eye on any other future plots he could snap up for another dream home?

‘I have been categorically assured by my wife we are not doing that again. I do get itchy feet but with this one we have perfected what we want.’


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