The deVOL Journal


16th August 2022

By Molly Cherry

If you are a fan of George Clarke and his renovation shows, like me, then you may have watched his latest series of Remarkable Renovations on Channel 4 which saw one of our floors feature in one of the most beautiful renovations I have seen. Episode 2 was all about the beautiful Trevolt, a former electricity substation in Cornwall which belongs to the lovely Abi and Morv. They first got in touch with us back in 2019 as they were looking to source a natural stone floor for, what would be, their brand-new kitchen space. From the first few email exchanges, we knew this was going to be more than just an ordinary renovation and I already couldn’t wait to follow their journey. Post renovation, I was lucky enough to be able to speak to them both to get a little more info on their build.

Can you tell us a bit about Trevolt and the history behind the building? 

Trevolt is a former electricity substation. It was built in 1910 and played a key role in the electrification of West Cornwall. Due to technological advances, the building was decommissioned in the 1960’s and has sat derelict ever since, apart from occasionally providing shelter to the local farmers’ cows! It’s an attractive building and we were instantly drawn to its red brick arches and quality stone work (although, in the early stages it took some imagination to see what it could be and how it could work as a family home). When we purchased the building it was black with dirt that had built up over the years and green with slim inside!

From the first time Abi and Morv went to view the derelict building, it was clear that they both had a very good eye for this sort of thing and they were almost instantly able to visualise this former tower as a wonderful home. Most people, myself included, would have walked into the building, saw the condition of it and walked straight back out. But not Abi and Morv. They saw the potential this had and were willing to put the dedication it deserved into it. There is absolutely no denying that it was a huge project to take on but projects like this don’t come easy.

When did your renovations start? 

Renovations began in June 2020, during the midst of the pandemic!

The very first thing Abi and Morv decided to do was remove the service lines and poles that surrounded the build and of course, this came at quite a big cost so early on. Access to the property was limited so they also had to bear in mind getting delivery lorries to the site and, as there were many to come, they then went on to widen the entrance to allow for their building supplies to be delivered. Onto the exciting part and visual changes started to emerge and the extension to the back of the tower started to take shape. As well as the amendments to the exterior of the property, there was a lot to consider on the interior and one of the biggest missions of the job was breaking out a very well-engineered floor which was around 1ft deep and made up of reinforced concrete and a further layer of steel, just to make it that bit trickier! Once the majority of the structural work was complete, it was onto the interiors (my favourite part!) and this was when it started to look more like a home than just an old tower.

Where did you get your design inspiration for the property from? 

We drew inspiration from so many different places, but fundamentally we tried to draw as much inspiration as we could from the local area and local vernacular. We love the modern rustic aesthetic and we felt that it would fit perfectly with the vision we had for the tower, in trying to combine old and new, in a cohesive way. We tried to stay as honest as we could to the building, bringing as much of its character to the fore as possible.

What made you choose our Dijon Tumbled Limestone? 

We wanted to source the flooring from Floors of Stone as we knew it would have been carefully sourced and selected. We chose Dijon Tumbled Limestone as we wanted something that was practical, hard wearing, and timeless, and we felt that it ticked all of those boxes. It also has a lovely organic quality to it (in both colour and texture), we loved that each tile was slightly different. We are so pleased with our decision – it’s beautiful and practical, so a win, win, for us!

As they have mentioned, they opted for our Dijon Tumbled Limestone which, personally, I think was the perfect stone for their vision! Abi rightly said the stone is such a timeless option and one which will certainly stand the test of time. The neutral tones and traditional qualities of this tile pairs perfectly with the rustic nature of the build and sits alongside a Seb Cox kitchen by our sister company, deVOL Kitchens. The mix of wood and stone materials creates such an authentic feel to the space and it was evident that these details had been carefully thought out. We stock this stone in a number of sizes including the opus pattern which is shown here. A mix of smaller and larger rectangles and squares is what makes up an opus pattern and really suits a more traditional property, where many years ago the floors would have been a bit of a jumble of sizes.

What is your favourite room in the house? 

Ah, this is such a hard question! I don’t think either of us can pick a favourite. We spend a lot of time in the kitchen which functions beautifully for our lifestyle and is a room that definitely exceeded expectations, equally, the lounge is a lovely serene space, as is the master bathroom!

Did you incur any major setbacks with the timescale of the project?

Surprisingly no! We were very lucky really, especially as we were building during a very strange time the world was going through. 

What lessons did you take away from your renovation experience?

Ah, so many! A key one was just how important a good team is. Our team was so fundamental to the success of this project. We were lucky that we found really passionate trades people and built a team who all shared our vision and passion for the project. We’ve learnt that this is such a key component for a successful build/renovation project. 

Do you have any advice for people currently taking on a large renovation project? 

We talked a lot at the start about our mindset going to into this project and we said to ourselves “this is a huge project, there’s going to be plenty of hurdles and challenges but let’s not let them stress us…” – we both feel this mindset helped us hugely and meant that we stayed focused on the end goal and were still able to enjoy the process.  We’d definitely give this advice to anyone undertaking a similar project. Things will not always go your way, so just accept that and keep moving forward. It will all come together in the end.

Any other final words of wisdom?

Watch your budget very closely and spend wisely. Put the budget where you will really notice it and don’t get bogged down with the detail too much. Keep a strong vision and keep hold of that as you make your way through the project and it will all come together at the end. You have to trust the process. Develop as good as a relationship you can with all those involved!

As you can see, Trevolt is so much more than just a renovation project. The building itself has so much history and clearly holds a special place in both of their hearts. Seeing an abandoned tower transformed into this stunning home really is special and we are so grateful and thankful to Abi and Morv for choosing Floors of Stone and allowing us to be part of their renovation journey. If you’d like to see more about Trevolt, head over to their Instagram page @trevolt_ where you can see the transformation from start to finish.

All images courtesy of Amazing Productions.