Is this Suffolk’s most eco-friendly holiday home?
It’s made of straw bales, has gravel-filled car tyres for pillars and took three years to build but Straw Bale House (the clue is in the name) is now the newest holiday let from Suffolk Cottage Holidays, offering eco-minded guests one of the most unusual hideaways not just in the heart of Suffolk, but in the East Anglian region. Even the littlest pig would be proud of its construction, wolves notwithstanding.
Originally a 1960’s multi-purpose breeze-block agricultural building, owners Richard and Rachel Stacey, from Shrub Farm, Haughley Green wanted to create a holiday home that was sympathetic to its surroundings whilst being kind to the environment.
“We designed the building ourselves, but then had a local architect take a look at our sketches to suggest some improvements and also convert the sketches into proper drawings,” says Richard.
“Because Shrub Farm is Grade 2 listed, the local heritage officer had to give approval and he was very keen to ensure that our design didn’t use traditional vernacular materials, such as clay pantile roofing or look like a 16th century cottage but was contemporary and referenced an agricultural outbuilding. Which was fine by us,” he adds.
As for the build, with no previous experience and using a DIY book as a blueprint ( ‘Building with Straw Bales’ by Barbara Jones of Straw Works which, Richard describes as, “the equivalent of an Ikea flat-pack set of instructions for how to build a straw bale house”), things took slightly longer than expected.
“It took three years with help from our family, friends and volunteers,” he says, following detailed drawings from the Straw Works website.
Today, though, what a transformation!
In keeping with Richard and Rachel’s eco-vision, the single-storey cottage is heated using a contemporary pellet burning stove, yet to all intents and purposes is a truly luxurious retreat, offering guests two en-suite bedrooms, a farm-house kitchen with all mod-cons, an open plan living area and a private garden with decking area and barbecue for al fresco dining. Outside, the cottage sits within 8 acres of Shrub Farm, in a private, tucked away location.
Straw Bale House, sleeps up to 6 people in 2 bedrooms, can be booked through Suffolk Cottage Holidays, T. 01394 389189 www.suffolkcottageholidays.com and costs from £349 for a three night short break or from £465 for a week.