Grand Designs star takes inspiration from Warwickshire property for his new home

Grand Designs presenter Kevin McCloud has revealed the real reason why he would never disclose his own home - and said it was inspired by a Midlands property restoration job. Astley Castle in Warwickshire was featured on the Channel 4 show in 2021 after it was restored following a fire in the 1970s.

Kevin said he was "blown away" by a staircase he saw and used the idea for his Herefordshire where he lives with his wife Jenny Jones. The couple live on the Welsh borders after he split from his ex-partner Suzanna in 2019.

He told the Mirror why he would never show his home on screen: "Why would you do that? It's like walking around with your trousers down. Why would I, knowing full well that 30 percent of anybody out there is going to say they don't like it, and they're going to be quite vitriolic? I think professionally it's an exit strategy. If I did it, I could never get it back."

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He said his own home improvements took a year, which included a new kitchen sourced from Ikea, inspired by a Grand Designs episode showcasing the historic Warwickshire property: "I was absolutely blown away by the staircase in Astley Castle, which was a wreck. I thought if I could have one thing, it would be that. So I'm sort of borrowing some ideas."

He added that tackling his renovations, which meant a year without a kitchen, gave him an appreciation for what Grand Designs' brave participants endure. "It's hard to express and to understand, there was a very deep sense of threat," he said.

"It came from the fact that we didn't have a kitchen, we didn't have a heart to the home. It was as though something had been taken away from the building that made it feel more dangerous to be there. I can't describe it in any other way, and I talk to people about this it's a very common feeling."

Kevin was inspired by the staircase in Astley Castle and used it for his own home
Kevin was inspired by the staircase in Astley Castle and used it for his own home -Credit:SWNS

When the show initially kicked off, Kevin had modest expectations, jokingly predicting maybe "one surveyor and his dog" might watch. Fast forward to now, and the beloved property series is gearing up to mark its 25th series, with McCloud confessing he can't imagine a life without the show.

Quizzed on whether he was still enamored with his role, he enthusiastically responded: "Yeah, I do. I do. I do. And also, I'm very proud of it because it isn't a job. It's a thing which is partly me and I'm partly it. And it's a bit like being in a relationship, I couldn't bear to be separated from it if that makes sense."

"They're going to have to prise me out of that. I know it's not necessarily healthy, but I do define who I am with work."

Kevin has four children, with the two eldest following in his footsteps. Hugo became an architect and Grace carved out a career as a design journalist. He said: "Whether that's in the blood, I don't know," adding, "As kids, I bored them rotten, taking them to look at piles of stones in fields saying: 'Look at this fine piece of archeology.' I realise that was a terrible thing to do as a parent, but inevitably some of it does rub off."

His younger children, Elsie and Milo, were raised in Somerset, where Kevin lived with Suzanna for 23 years. The pandemic posed unique challenges for McCloud, who has asthma and couldn't risk public transport or hotel stays.

To keep working and maintain his sanity, he rented a camper van. "I needed to work to earn some money, but also because I was going mad," he revealed. "You're wondering 'Is this the end of my world, is this the end of my working life? ' I was so determined it should come back. I rented a camper van for three years and drove around the country living in it, just to be able to film.

"It was in February, in the mud. It was bloody, bloody cold. Camper vans, are designed for summer touring holidays. Never again."

When he's not on set, he prefers to keep a low profile, enjoying a pint incognito at his local. Yet, he's always up for a chat with fans of the show. "People just want to talk about their project," he admitted. "And I don't mind the selfie thing at all."

With Grand Designs Live in London kicking off this Saturday, McCloud, who hails from Bedfordshire where he lived in a house his dad built, recalled: "When we started it, some smart-arse said to me: 'Exhibitions are dead. The internet's killed them'. But people love a live event, to feel they're part of something."

He said he believed that Grand Designs continued to captivate viewers because it consistently delivered the unexpected. "It sort of has its own energy derived from the build and out of the stories of the people," he reflects. So what we end up with is a kind of a freshness. We've all got a little older. But I still find it very energising.

"I give people advice and they ignore it because they've already disappeared somewhere in their head and their eyes are glazed over. My great love is old buildings and I get hot under the collar if I see people doing stuff which is not good. I'll wade in."

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