Adding more space transformed this 1930s detached house

When you find ways to add more space, sometimes just extending up or out is not enough. This was the problem this family faced when they wanted to create an open plan kitchen, living room and dining room in their 1930s detached house in Kent.

As well as having plans to renovate the whole property, the existing kitchen was small and disconnected from the dining room, with a dark and cold old extension. Along with having clear plans on how to design their dream kitchen, the cramped nature of the rooms at the back of the house has prompted homeowners to seek professional help to make their dreams a reality.

They called on the expertise of an architect Marie Pachonick (opens in a new tab) to find a way to create the home they dreamed of, with a bright and airy family multi-use space at its heart.

Here, Marienne Pachonick tells us about the project, the issues her company had to overcome, and the end result.

Adding more space – how this family expanded up, down and out

open kitchen and living room with island and bar and stools yellow cabinets and a sofa

(Image credit: Chris Snook)

The original house and garden had a significant level difference that made the garden seem disconnected from the house and less accessible. The existing extension was outdated and did not take advantage of the full width of the house.

He also deprived the interior of natural daylight, which made the rooms dark and drab. The gray rendered exterior and crazy multi-level paving contributed to the oppressive and outdated look.

“Apart from renewing almost every aspect of this house,” says Marienne, “the biggest improvement was adding a kitchen, seating and dining area in an extension that extends beyond the width at the back.”

“So when the pandemic hit in 2020,” she continues, “I adjusted plans to include modern home office ideas for working from home. The owners wanted a feeling of space, maximizing natural light and having easy access to the outdoors. By lowering the floor of the extension, we created a much better connection to the garden and gained height without making the structure too tall.

“Floor-to-ceiling sliding doors, a characteristic window seat and large roof lanterns fulfill their wish for a bright interior,” she continues. “They also wanted to capitalize on the existing features of the garden and a mature oak tree became the anchor for an outdoor dining space.”

“The whole project went smoothly thanks in large part to the great attention to detail from the outset, an agreed budget and the open-mindedness of the owners,” says Marianne, “who made bold in their commitment to using modern materials”.

The kitchen area

kitchen with island and small bar and stools yellow cupboards

(Image credit: Chris Snook)

Two-tone plywood kitchen cabinets complement the charred larch and plywood-lined window seat that frames the garden view, providing a sophisticated and bold finish.

Floor-to-ceiling fitted wardrobes echo floor-to-ceiling sliding doors into the sleeping area beyond.

Traditional herringbone flooring combined with a bold color palette emphasizes the increased ceiling height of the new extension and adds a sense of scale to the new extension.

kitchen with yellow cabinets and a large bay window and window seat overlooking a garden

(Image credit: Chris Snook)

A feature window has a built-in seat and is framed using plywood lining on all four sides to provide a cozy nook for the family to snuggle up in and relax while enjoying the view of the garden.

Placing a bay window seat in a kitchen transforms an otherwise blank wall into a useful feature while introducing a furnished feel to the hardworking kitchen space.

bay window from the outside

(Image credit: Chris Snook)

The combination of contrasting materials adds an interesting architectural feature to the new extension in the form of a large window seat structure, which is framed by a charred larch exterior cladding that adds a bold accent against the red brick facade more hot.

Ample glazing helps amplify light around the window seat area and into the kitchen space beyond.

The laundry room

small laundry room with a long vertical window, yellow cabinets and a sink

(Image credit: Chris Snook)

As laundry room design ideas go, the bold yellow and black color scheme provides a strong visual statement in an otherwise all-white interior.
Adding black accents in the form of pegs and window frames anchors the scheme.

Subtle design details such as the sliding cupboard fronts echo the pocket sliding doors in the dining area. A tall, slender window frame overlooks the courtyard beyond.

The living space

living room with sofas next to large French windows opening onto a garden

(Image credit: Chris Snook)

Floor-to-ceiling sliding doors elongate the space, bringing the views of the garden inside.

Skylights and frameless glazed skylights add a sleek, modern look that visually reinforces the feeling of extra ceiling height while increasing the flow of natural light throughout the new extension.

living room with sofas and sideboard next to large French windows opening onto a garden

(Image credit: Chris Snook)

A living room in the open-concept extension satisfies the homeowner’s need for natural light through slim-framed sliding doors, which are framed in a bold black that echoes the grand charred used outdoors.

An all-white interior gives a contemporary look that contrasts with the warmth of herringbone parquet ideas.

The dining room

dining table space with a long wooden table and eight chairs

(Image credit: Chris Snook)

Revealing original architectural elements, such as exposed ceiling joists, adds a lot of character to the newly created dining room and contrasts with modern woodwork.

Herringbone flooring continues through to this space providing visual flow throughout the interior and bespoke storage has been constructed to house books, ornaments and clever hidden sliding pocket doors that can close off the room for create a more intimate space.

dining table space with a long wooden table and eight chairs

(Image credit: Chris Snook)

Integrating an existing room into a newly created space will give character to an extension while offering the possibility of creating a new useful living area.

A dining room that was rarely used by the family has been given a new lease of life by connecting it to the new open plan family kitchen and living room.

Removing the ceiling to create a feeling of extra height makes the dining room feel more spacious.

view of a hallway on a dining table with a long wooden table and eight chairs

(Image credit: Chris Snook)

The property before the start of the work

rear exterior of a cobble house

(Image credit: Chris Snook)

Compared to the property before work began, the lower level extension now relates much better to the garden.

With easy access from the kitchen to the garden, the family enjoys the benefits of the open-plan interior and newly landscaped garden, as does the family dog.

Focus on: going down

Architect Marienne Pachonick shares her tips and ideas

  • Planning regulations are sensitive to the height of an extension, but by lowering the structure you can avoid potential objections.
  • You can get better accessibility and a better view of the garden by lowering the level of the open-plan interior space of the extension.
  • The addition of glazed patio doors and a feature window will naturally connect a rear extension to the garden and make the most of natural light. Large sliding doors won’t encroach on the space.
  • Installing steps leading to a new lower level extension will create a natural transition from inside the existing home.
  • Lowering the floor of an extension increases the floor-to-ceiling height of the interior, which adds to the feeling of space and also increases headroom.

Additional Words by Caroline Foster

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