Room Tour: A Smart Extension Transforms a Tired Victorian House
A crowded family home is made lighter, greener and far more functional thanks to a thoughtful redesign
By reconfiguring the ground floor of this Victorian terrace and extending out into the garden, Daniel Rees of Rees Architects, who the owners found on Houzz, has carved out a bright new space in which each member of the family can comfortably live and work.
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Who lives here? A family with two children, plus a lodger
Location Bow, east London
Property A Victorian terrace in a conservation area
Designer Daniel Rees of Rees Architects
Project year 2018
When architect Daniel Rees first saw this Victorian terraced home, it was in need of a redesign. The owners had lived here for a number of years and the existing ground floor space had started to feel cluttered and tight, as it was being used as a kitchen, dining room, office space, and storage room for kids’ toys.
“There was a small existing extension with a kitchen in it,” Daniel says, “but the owners wanted to upgrade this space, get a new kitchen, create a home office, and fit in a cloakroom and a utility space.”
“I started by asking them a lot of questions about how they live, how they use the space, what their jobs are, etc. We then did a survey at the property, looked at relevant planning policies, and put together a concept design based on the results,” he says.
“We wanted to keep some existing features and bring as much light into the house as possible,” he adds.
Rather than rip down the existing extension and knock out the back wall of the house to create a totally open space, Daniel took a more careful approach that worked with the existing structure and preserved some of the property’s charm.
This decision was practical as well as an aesthetic. “It costs quite a lot to demolish [walls] and put extra structure in,” he says, “and we had a budget to stick to, so we came up with this solution to remain within budget but also ensure the two spaces still felt connected.”
A rooflight above the dining table draws light down into the new and existing rooms.
A bank of cupboards runs floor to ceiling along the wall on the right, hiding away all the everyday clutter, such as the vacuum cleaner, as well as two big bins, a fridge-freezer and a pantry.
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Before the redesign, a kitchen was squeezed into this narrow space, but it’s now a light and inviting study for the whole family to use. “Both of the children can sit here after school to do homework,” Daniel says, “and the husband uses the space to work from home during the day, too.”
A flowerbed was designed just in front of the picture window to create a leafy view.
“We wanted to create different sections that were all interconnected,” Daniel says of the new layout.
“When you build an extension, you always create a dark area in the middle of the house,” he continues, “so we try to ensure the more liveable spaces are positioned next to the garden. Having glass doors leading outside connects the dining area and garden and makes the room feel bigger.”
To make the indoor and outdoor connection as seamless as possible, Daniel lowered the floor of the extension to meet the outside ground level. He then laid a brick patio, which runs right up to the extension. A slim drainage channel divides the two flooring zones.
Beat Wide pendant light, Tom Dixon. LED light bulbs, Tala.
Because the house is in a conservation area, the planning application process was a bit different,” Daniel adds. “It’s not a listed building, but the whole estate is part of a conservation area. This mainly affected the external aspects of the build, such as the height and scale of the extension and the type of brickwork used.”
“We chose reeded glass for the door, as it gives an obscured look but still brings in light,” Daniel says. “Because this type of glass doesn’t have a pattern as such, it works well with many different styles, and it has a nice elegance to it as well.”
More: 8 ways to use reeded glass.
Walls and cabinets painted in Sage Green, Little Greene. Mode Tate wall-mounted basin filler tap, VictoriaPlum. Scandi round mirror, John Lewis. Statuario worktop in suede finish, Silestone.
The team used Ikea cupboard carcasses to keep costs down and had cabinet doors made bespoke by a joiner and painted in a soft blue. They specified the handles and worktops, too.
Walls and kitchen cabinets painted in Air Force Blue, Little Greene. Butler & Rose Dream 1.5 bowl white ceramic fireclay kitchen sink; Crosswater Cucina Tropic side lever mono kitchen mixer in brushed stainless steel, both Tap Warehouse. Worktop in 5141 Frosty Carrina finish, Caesarstone.
“The strip lights bring light onto a surface without the shadows that spotlights can cast,” he adds. “They also give a nice warmth to the space.”
Natural light is maximised through the inclusion of two large, triple-glazed rooflights, as well as the glazing on the back of the extension.
Chicago wall light, It’s About Romi at Made in Design.
“The homeowners told us they feel as if they have space to do what they need to do now, and they have a lot more people round to visit than they used to,” he adds. “They also said their heating bill has unexpectedly reduced by half, thanks to the new glazing and insulation!”
What’s your favourite element of this redesign? Let us know in the Comments.