Where’s the Fish Tank?

“Where’s the fish tank?” I asked. It was one of the things I remembered from the old dining room. I suddenly realised that we hadn’t planned a spot for it in the new extension. Sadly, (although somewhat to my relief) the fish had not survived the building work. I felt somehow thankful that they did not need a space for the tank, but also guilt at my relief! I made a mental note to add ‘fish tank’ to my project checklist, it would be there along with cat flap, and the myriad of other things that need to be considered. I would not want to forget the fish tank again.

Not to downplay the loss of a pet(s), but the sadness was quickly replaced with a sense of pride from visiting the finished home (and envy – I wanted to move in!). I entered into the new extension on a sunny Monday morning after the school run – it was bright, spacious, beautifully furnished by my client – with great eye for detail.

Catalyst: A Bigger Bedroom

When I met my clients back in 2018, the original brief had been to create a larger third bedroom for their son – to extend above the existing dining room extension. Their 1960’s home had good sized rooms, albeit the third bedroom being on the smaller side. Once the process began, the realisation dawned that if you’re going to do building work, you’ll probably only want to do it once. With that, the scope expanded to extend the ground floor and renovate the kitchen as well, they wanted a space to entertain especially for family at Christmas.

Before it all began

Journey: Some Twists and Turns

With a revised brief for a larger project we set off on a journey which had its twists and turns. A hundred year old oak tree in the front garden and the house having been previously underpinned due to subsidence added some complexity to an otherwise straightforward project; the structural engineer designed for piled foundations. The need for a specialist piling contractor alongside a general builder made for additional coordination.

Result: A Space to Entertain

Obstacles overcome, the outcome is lovely, a space for the family to enjoy and to entertain. The only downside being that COVID has limited their potential for visitors, but this will no doubt be a great entertaining space when the time comes.

The ‘slide and fold’ doors across the width of the space, adding elegance with their slim frames. The internal bi-fold doors between lounge and dining bring flexibility for open plan or closed off living. The roof lights enhance the dining space, bringing light from above. Upstairs, in the two-storey part of the extension, the enlarged third bedroom had been commandeered as the master, with a walk through dressing area adding some glamour.

“The house is finished and we love it!” That’s the feedback I love to hear. And whilst the end result is very much the point of hiring an architect, it’s good to have positive feedback on the journey to get there as well:

Carly was sympathetic to our needs, very organised, has great communication skills and went above and beyond when working with contractors. She made the whole process as seamless as possible and we stayed on budget throughout. We are extremely pleased with the service she provided and are really pleased with our 2-storey extension.

Building Work completed early 2020 by Duncan Crawford.

Products and Suppliers: Kitchen – Howdens, Worktop – Rocktops, Kitchen Flooring – Amtico, Pendant Lights – Koltrane Lighting , Bedroom Flooring – Quick Step LVT, Rooflights – Velux, Slide and Fold Doors – Sunseeker Doors, Internal Bi-fold Doors – Todd Doors.

Reconnecting with the Garden and Disguising the Old as New

A familiar story…

Living in a house subjected to piecemeal development over the years, the key consideration for this family was in unlocking the back of the house to once again connect with the garden. It’s a common problem where properties have already been developed, and for this project in particular the requirement to retain one of the existing extensions brought with it an added challenge, but one that ultimately gave it its character.

Three years ago I was approached by a lovely family of four, who came to me with their tired conservatory that doubled as a playroom, and in many ways blocked their access to the garden. It was a space rarely used, always too hot or too cold, a bit of a no man’s land, very much in the way. For them it required a concerted effort to get out to the garden; especially challenging with kids.

A plan for contemporary living

Their vision was to create a versatile family room, open plan to the kitchen and dining area, and to re-establish the link between the house and the garden. It would be a space for hanging out together, for music, for kids’ homework and for getting outdoors again. Adding a significant amount of floor space to their 1930’s home, the new extension would infill the gap alongside the existing extension that had been tacked on 20 years previous. This, already containing a ground floor bedroom and bathroom, too valuable for family visitors to do away with – so it had to be retained and worked around.

Delivering through design

The proposals set out to reconnect the house and garden and re-worked the circulation to the spare room, streamlining the kitchen layout. The island, which is actually not an island at all, delineates the kitchen zone whilst maintaining the visual connection right through the new space to the garden beyond. Using several large rooflights to ensure that good daylighting could penetrate the deep plan layout, the resulting spaces are bright even on a dull day. Amalgamating a series of existing roof forms into one flat roof, and with new cedar cladding across the elevation we were able to disguise the existing extension as though it were all one congruent form. The cladding, our solution to cloaking the old, brings the extension a character its own that will evolve as the seasons weather the boarding to a silvery grey. Roof trim and rainwater goods were colour matched to the new doors, and the existing window also replaced, to achieve a cohesive contemporary appearance across the new and old.

Changing family life for the better

Delighted with their new space and restored connection with the garden, the extension offers so much flexibility to a growing family. Opening onto the raised terrace with built in planters along the edge- their dream of indoor-outdoor living is becoming a reality. As is always the case relationships are key to project success and it was a pleasure to facilitate their vision: “we were complete novices to the process but Carly’s personal approach and excellent communication made the daunting job very manageable”.

Reconnecting with nature, a room with a view

This project was completed in Summer 2019 and built by Macbeth and Co. Building Services.

If you’re feeling inspired to reconnect with your garden then download my Project Planner to start thinking about the problems you’re looking to solve and explore the potential of your home.