Room Tour: A Genius Extension Links a Period Home to the Garden
Rethinking the staircase and shifting the patio have transformed the ground floor flow in this handsome old house
The two sides of the wide house were also lacking any connection, as they were divided by a central staircase. George’s award-wining and sensitive reconfiguration of this conservation-area property focused on extending behind the central staircase to link these two spaces. The owners also had a smart suggestion for their new patio, which allowed George’s design to bring planting right up to the house. Scroll down to see the dramatic difference this has made to the property and how George’s design protected the building’s bones.
Who lives here? Gareth and Richard, who work in design/fashion, and Chunky the dog
Location North London
Property A late Georgian/early Victorian double-fronted terrace with three bedrooms and two bathrooms
Room dimensions 79 sq m
Architect George Bradley of Bradley Van Der Straeten
Project year 2020
Photos by Richard Gooding Photography
A beautiful new light-filled kitchen now sits at the back of this double-fronted house, on its left-hand side. “The house is very wide, which is unusual for central London,” George says.
Alphabeta pendant trio, Hem.
Previously, the two halves of the house were completely divided by a central staircase, of which you get a glimpse here on the right, newly boxed in with plywood.
Originally, the back of the staircase also marked the back of the house (note the blue steels marking the original rear walls) and the area was filled with a lean-to containing a loo. George extended this area by 1.5m and now you can walk around it.
The outrigger on the right was being used by the owners as a study. The new kitchen fills this now-widened area.
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“The staircase doglegs,” George says, “so we created the box. And because they don’t have loft space, it was a good location for extra storage. We also liked the idea you almost go into a box to go upstairs.”
Access to the other side of the double-fronted property and the old kitchen is through a doorway to the left of the stairs. The kitchen had a small window onto the garden and you had to go into the study in the outrigger to get outside.
“We didn’t want to change the location of the stairs, because they’re integral to the layout of the house,” George says. “All the bedrooms connect to them, so it just wouldn’t have worked – and would have been a lot more work! But the extension means you can get behind the stairs and link the two sides of the house now, which you couldn’t before.”
As well as George’s clever new floor plan, another major factor in the finished design was the owners’ “exceptional taste”.
“The existing house was decorated in deep, rich colours with statement art pieces throughout,” George says. “Gareth and Richard approached [us] with a well-designed brief document that collated their ambitions, taste, favourite colours, artists, designers and pieces of furniture. This served as an inspiration from the outset.”
Pendant light, Tom Dixon. Sofa, Barber Osgerby for Vitra.
Dining table; Alphabeta Pendant Uno light, both Hem. Wall lights, Astro. Walls painted in Mole’s Breath; ceiling painted in Wevet, both Farrow & Ball.
A coat storage space and a utility room now take up the front of the house on the left where the old kitchen was. These are also encased in ply cabinetry.
George says these doors were more about the flexibility to create a sense of separation – as well as an enclosed area for the dog when they are out – than being required for Building Regulations. As the house is only two storeys high, it wasn’t essential (three storeys and above requires formal separation between kitchen and staircases for access in the event of fire).
Taller plants are set away from the house, while planting near the windows is kept low so as not to block the view. This also has the effect of creating a layered view of greenery from the house.
The room above the kitchen has also been extended a little, which gave the owners a new en suite on the first floor. The new extensions both have wildflower roofs, so the views out from upstairs are just as soft.
The owners keep Shubunkin goldfish in a raised pond just outside the window…
Brick pavers echo the herringbone parquet flooring inside.
This end of the kitchen contains the boiler and the ovens. The tall cabinets at the other end contain a fridge and freezer. “Most of the functionality is against the wall, so the island stays free,” George says. It contains the bins and a dishwasher, but is otherwise all storage.
“The edge of the roof window goes right up to the units, which means the kitchen also acts as a reflective surface and, at certain times of the day, you get rain droplets or wildflower roof shadows on the cupboards,” George says. “It brings a bit more of the outside in. They’re the little touches that really make a difference.”
Kitchen carcasses, DIY Kitchens; doors bespoke.
Because George and the owners opted for soft, aged bare brick here, electrical fittings were surface-mounted. “The idea of these wall lights is that they wash the brick with light,” he explains. “They’re for mood rather than task lighting.”
Elsewhere, there are discreet recessed spots. “We didn’t want a big grid of spots in a space as open as this,” he says.
And how do the owners feel about their finished home? “They are keen gardeners and just love the fact they can enjoy their garden all year round,” George says. “They also like the fact that, whatever the weather, they can feed their fish from the comfort of their house.”
What is your favourite feature in this renovation? Let us know in the Comments.