The construction of Greg and Georgie Whitaker’s home was one of the most emotional we’ve seen on Grand Designs UK.
Their show, which was first shown here last year and recently repeated on TV1, featured the young couple who met on a cancer trip and embarked on a difficult barn conversion in Kent.
Their story was truly heartbreaking, but an absolute joy to watch, as they supported each other through the challenges of building and their health issues – they both had brain tumours. As Greg said at the time, “Now I feel like I’ve beaten cancer, I can do anything. I could build a house. It is very good. Easy.
“Having a brain tumor was one of the best kicks I’ve ever had. I just remember in that hospital bed, I was just weighing all the things I hadn’t done in life, and how I wanted to cross them all off. And one of them was to build a dream house. There’s no way I’m here doing this now if I hadn’t gotten sick and met George. I just want to show people that I’m okay again and that I can do it.
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Their new home in the converted barn sits on land owned by Georgie’s parents, who also have a home there. And it was not an easy build. “There were times when I was so sick that the purpose of the day was to come down here and sit outside the barn,” Georgie said. “It’s the only energy I really had. There is a nice atmosphere there and it’s nice to be able to watch the pitch.
Fast forward 18 months, and the couple are keeping fans updated on their progress. The house is completely finished and now landscaped. It is in an idyllic rural setting with beautiful mature trees.
Four weeks ago, Greg posted a picture of himself watering a new vegetable patch, saying, “Now that the house is totally finished, we finally have a vegetable patch sorted. All made from recycled materials left over from the project. Very satisfying to live “the good life” and eat good fresh food.
“Also guilt-free watering with the 7500l rainwater tank that we put under the lawn…”
They also posted a photo of themselves with the couple who designed a house that floats above a natural swimming pool – another favorite episode of Kiwi viewers.
“Fellow Grand Designers, Dan and Nina from the amazing bathing pond house episode came to visit last weekend,” they said. “We met at Grand Designs Live and hit it off instantly! Such a beautiful couple and were invited to swim in their pond later this summer…”
Meanwhile, Greg and Georgie are currently on vacation in Wales, in their retro caravan, which they call their “Avocado green 1990 Marauder”.
“It’s so retro we were the first caravan allowed into this beautiful ‘little Welsh woodland campsite’ near Dale.
“We picked it up for £600 locked out and took a few weeks off to tour the Wales coast. I honestly didn’t think caravan life was our thing, but now we’re hooked!!!”
The couple have a website for their business GW Enterprises and have posted updates there.
“One of the main reasons we applied for Grand Designs was to raise awareness about brain tumors and the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust, where we first met,” says Greg. “I also really want to share my self-build experiences and possibly explore project management in the near future.
“My father, my staff and I have taken over the management of The Brick Works Pub which, despite the pandemic, is still going strong and we are very grateful to all of our loyal supporters and regulars.”
And Georgie says, “I’ve always loved making and creating and photographing things. It is something that I have been able to do or think even when I have no energy and my head is always full of ideas.
“Through years of cancer treatment, hospital visits and daily struggles with energy levels, even on days when a little walk in the garden was all I could handle, I noticed intricate details like the individual seeds of a dandelion head.
“I learned the basics of the wonderful craft of needle felting and now make bespoke animals. Each has its own character and no two are the same. I have made baby mobiles, wedding cakes, Christmas tree decorations and pet orders for family and friends.
“Creating our home together has been a huge challenge but also a great joy, and we absolutely love every minute living there now. Designing our barn interior and adding the finishing touches hopefully complements the Amazing construction work and attention to detail from Greg.
“Last summer we created a flower bed and planted lots of seeds including alliums and cosmos. I had no idea how much I would really enjoy gardening, even weeding!
“We would like to be able to encourage and inspire other people who are going through difficult times.”