Grand Designs viewers praise 'inspirational' cancer survivor who built £673,000 dream home

8 mins read

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Grand Designs viewers were left pleasantly surprised by what some described as ‘the best episode ever’ as a chef from south east London unveiled her stunning dream home which had only gone a little over budget and kept within a reasonable time frame.

Taking to Twitter to praise chef Corinne’s good sense and relaxed attitude to her build, which transformed the end of a 1960s terrace in a conservation area in Sydenham Hill, after she had struggled through a difficult few years, viewers dubbed her ‘inspirational’.

They praised cancer survivor Corinne’s ‘divine’ dream home, which had gone over budget by £73,000 at a total cost of £673,000 – significantly less than many people overspend – and was completed within eight months of starting out.

Corinne's dream home in Sydenham Hill, south east London, cost £673,000 and was completed in just eight months after she allowed a contractor to take charge

Corinne’s dream home in Sydenham Hill, south east London, cost £673,000 and was completed in just eight months after she allowed a contractor to take charge

Corinne, a professional chef, revealed she had battled cancer alone during lockdown following a divorce, and said she devised the plans for the home while having treatment

Corinne, a professional chef, revealed she had battled cancer alone during lockdown following a divorce, and said she devised the plans for the home while having treatment

Corinne's kitchen and dining area is on the first floor of the house and opens out to a balcony which looks onto the woodland in the area

Corinne’s kitchen and dining area is on the first floor of the house and opens out to a balcony which looks onto the woodland in the area

Corinne's bedroom has an enormous window that looks out onto the woodland - a rarity in a home in the capital city of London

Corinne’s bedroom has an enormous window that looks out onto the woodland – a rarity in a home in the capital city of London

After the chef had battled cancer alone during lockdown following a divorce, viewers also praised her for designing the plans while she was still in hospital having treatment.

At the beginning of the programme, host Kevin McCloud met Corinne, who had lived in the same terraced house in Sydenham Hill for 24 years, but who wanted to transform the place after some huge life changes.

Talking Kevin through her plans, Corinne said: ‘On the second floor… it’s really exciting. I’m going to have a roof garden, with cooking as well.’

She added: ‘This is what I love. Inviting people round for dinner and drinks on the roof terrace. Invite people to come and cook with me in a gorgeous kitchen.’

The bedroom, which opens out to a small terrace, is on the ground floor of the house and has been designed as a'boudoir' for Corinne

The bedroom, which opens out to a small terrace, is on the ground floor of the house and has been designed as a ‘boudoir’ for Corinne

Although it is in a triangular shape, Kevin mused at how spacious Corinne's bedroom appeared to be when you walked into it

Although it is in a triangular shape, Kevin mused at how spacious Corinne’s bedroom appeared to be when you walked into it

The home contained several terraces on each floor, including this small dining area on the ground floor outside Corinne's bedroom

The home contained several terraces on each floor, including this small dining area on the ground floor outside Corinne’s bedroom

Corinne's bathroom was decorated in a dusky pink with brass fittings and a skylight which ia placed just over the shower and bath

Corinne’s bathroom was decorated in a dusky pink with brass fittings and a skylight which ia placed just over the shower and bath

Kevin asked: ‘So you’ve been developing this while also dealing with cancer during lockdown?’

Corinne responded, ‘yep’ before adding she used the idea of the build to help herself get through the treatment.

She recalled telling herself: ‘This is the good that comes out of your cancer diagnosis.’

When Kevin asked why she wanted to build the dream home at this time, Corinne responded: ‘I love where I live, but the house that I live in isn’t me. It’s been created with an ex-husband – or two.’ 

The episode follows the chef as she transforms a slither of land into a sensational cubic house, complete with an al fresco dining area. 

Of course, there were a few bumps in the road due to early setbacks with groundworks, the surging cost of materials and Corinne’s expensive tastes.

The difficulties meant Corinne’s relationship with her contractor – which started out amiably enough – was put under pressure.

Viewers took to Twitter to praise both Corinne and her amazing dream house, which had been built in just eight months after she allowed the contractors to take the reins

Viewers took to Twitter to praise both Corinne and her amazing dream house, which had been built in just eight months after she allowed the contractors to take the reins

 Nonetheless, eight months later Corinne had moved into her house after her architect (and friend) Simon and contractor Julian had taken the reins on the project.

Upon seeing the new home, Kevin described it as a ‘book-shaped home’ with ‘clever and respectful proportions’.

Meeting Corinne at her home, which she had been living in for three nights, Kevin was surprised to learn she had sold her old house ‘within a week’, which she described as a ‘clean break’.

She said: ‘Health-wise I’m feeling good. This is going to be my time and I can sit back and enjoy.’

As she showed Kevin around her home, Corinne said: ‘I can’t stop smiling.’

Viewers were impressed by the huge windows at the side of the house which backed onto the woodland which allowed for a look out into the ‘great outdoors’.

Corinne’s bathroom, decorated in ‘just the right shade of pink’, according to Kevin, contained gold/brass fittings and featured a skylight that brought light into the room.

Kevin was then led upstairs to the kitchen on the first floor, which opened out onto a balcony and looked over the expanse of woodland.

The pair then sat down for a homemade lunch of chicken, potatoes and salsa verde, complete with a glass of white wine.

Sitting down with Corinne at the end of the episode Kevin asked her how she felt about the £73,000 over-spend after she had only intended to pay £600,000 overall for her home.

However, the homeowner said the over-spend was ‘only fair’ considering the quality of the finish of the house and the little time taken to complete the project.

She said: ‘At the end of the day, I’ve got a really lovely build for a very reasonable price.’

Upon seeing the build, viewers were impressed not only by Corinne’s home, but had warmed to the homeowner herself.

One person said: ‘Such a pleasantly surprising attitude by Corinne on this show’, adding she still got ‘value for money’ even though she had over spent.

Another said: ‘I LOVE this evening’s Grand Designs house. Just beautiful. Exquisite finishes.’

One viewer praise Corinne’s laid-back attitude in allowing the architect and builders to get on with the project.

‘Just shows, leave it to the architect and professional with a proper time and budget constrained contract [and] you get it built in eight months.’

Describing the build as ‘stunning’, one viewer said: ‘Corinne is truly inspirational and I’m sure she will enjoy cooking and hosting with her passion for food in such beautiful surroundings.’

Another person said the episode was ‘the perfect combo of great person ace design and modest plot’.

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