It’s hard to think of a less appropriate description than ‘retired businessman’ for Richard Pullan. Although he no longer works in the clothing manufacturing industry, much of his time is now taken up managing his various investments, from wine and property to the local bus company. But when he’s not in his office, Richard can be found sailing around the South Devon coast. ‘I’ve always loved this area; it’s so picturesque,’ he says.
Richard’s contemporary house is sat on top of a hill, with uninterrupted views down to the estuary — the perfect spot for assessing the day’s sailing conditions. With walls of glass to make the most of the setting, the property is a very different to the more traditional styles of his previous homes.
When Richard’s wife sadly passed away, he decided to stay on in the family house for a few years while he planned what to do next. ‘I’d always had a hankering to build my own home,’ he explains, ‘and it simply felt like the right time to do it.’
Building a new property in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty was always going to be difficult, despite Richard wanting to replace a rather unprepossessing bungalow. ‘The original plans were for a larger house with lots of glass and extra balconies but that was rejected due to light pollution,’ he explains. ‘After three attempts and a scaling down of plans, we were given the go-ahead.’ Old friend and architect Mike James was brought in for the design, and given just a few stipulations from Richard: ‘The kitchen had to be at the centre, and I wanted plenty of bathrooms plus all the latest eco gizmos.’
In keeping with the brief, Mike incorporated four bathrooms, solar panels and a vast rainwater harvesting unit under the lawn. The project took two years to complete and Richard lived in a rented property nearby while local builder Simon Proctor and his team oversaw the work. ‘They knew what they were doing far better than me,’ he says, ‘I’ve never even changed a plug!’
As the build neared completion, it was time to focus on the decor, so Richard turned to friend and interior designer Julia Stogdale. Having spent so much of his life in period houses, Richard’s style and furniture needed an update. Julia introduced a more modern design with a neutral background and colourful accessories. Chairs and sofas were recovered while paintings were reframed. Remnants of Richard’s previous homes — family photos, porcelain and artefacts from his travels — have been skilfully woven in.
Richard is delighted with the result. ‘Julia came up with her own ideas and I would tell her what I did and didn’t like,’ he says. ‘If I was unsure, Julia would say, “Trust me!”. I’m so pleased that I did — she was absolutely right and this is now a fantastic place to live.’