A contemporary glass extension

By incorporating folding-sliding doors and rooflights into the design of their rear extension, Lucy Macdonald and Gideon Hatch have created an impressive contemporary kitchen/living area which links perfectly to their outdoor space

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‘We started out by building new kitchen extension and ended up refurbishing the entire house,’ recalls Lucy. ‘It has been our home for 18 years and our children grew up here, so, although we needed more space, we really didn’t want to move. We like the early Victorian style of the property, as well as its location near Clapham Common. We’ve done bits and pieces to the house over the years, but nothing on the scale of this project.

‘The lower-ground-floor kitchen was replaced shortly after moving in, when we chose blue-painted cabinets with wooden worktops for a traditional look. Almost 15 years later, though, the room was looking dated and needed a major revamp,’ she adds.

‘After speaking to several architects we chose Anthony Thomas, who was recommended by friends. We wanted someone who could oversee the entire process, not only the design stage, and, as Anthony works closely with a builder, he is able to offer a complete design-and-build package.’

Fact file

The owners: Lucy Macdonald, a fund manager, lives here with her husband Gideon Hatch, a rug designer, and their children Eliza, 18, and Alfie, 14.

The brief

Lucy and Gideon knew that they wanted to extend into the rear garden at lower-ground-floor level, and Anthony came up with a design that would add a five-metre-deep extension to house a dining/family area, while keeping the kitchen in the original part of the property. A laundry room would be created on the first floor to free up additional space in the kitchen, and the old dining room would become a multipurpose TV/music/guest room, separated from the kitchen by Japanese-style translucent sliding screens.

The design

‘We loved the idea of the glazed sliding screens, and they create a sound barrier between the two spaces,’ says Lucy. ‘Overall, we wanted a clean-lined, modern look, in total contrast to the design of our old kitchen.’

To allow in as much natural light as possible, the extension incorporates two walk-on flat rooflights, a mono-pitch glazed roof, a full-height fixed window to the rear and folding-sliding glass doors that open on to the terrace. Above the living/family area, the sloping glazed roof has been designed to prevent neighbours overlooking the space and to avoid obstructing an existing window.

‘The idea of the walk-on rooflights was that we would be able to go out from the ground-floor living room on to the roof of the extension, where we now grow plants in pots,’ explains Gideon. ‘There used to be a little balcony with steps down to the garden, and the new roof garden above the dining area replaces this and helps to increase the feeling of space.’

‘We live in a Conservation Area, so there was quite a lot of debate and discussion at the planning stage, particularly about the size of the new extension,’ recalls Lucy. But once the project had been granted planning permission, the couple and their children decamped to a rented house two streets away, where they originally planned to stay for six months.

Extending the project

‘While we were living there, we decided to ask Anthony to start work on the rest of the house – including refurbishing the bedrooms and creating a new bathroom, dressing room and en suite,’ says Gideon. ‘It meant that we ended up renting for 18 months instead of six, but it was just too good an opportunity to miss.’

An existing outbuilding and the rear wall of the lower-ground floor were demolished to accommodate the new extension, with concealed structural columns supporting the rooms above. Extensive excavation was necessary to create foundations and reduce the level of the terrace so that new steps could be built to reach the higher, lawned area. ‘The builders could only access the garden through the property, so the earth and rubble had to be removed through the house, bag by bag,’ Lucy recalls.

A steel frame was erected and filled in with rendered blockwork to form the skeleton of the extension, with the flat roof finished in decking inset with the walk-on glass rooflights. The bespoke aluminium-framed glazing and folding-sliding doors were installed in the end wall, with additional light filtering through from glass built into two of the front steps of the house.

‘The kitchen is a semi-basement, so we wanted to bring in as much light as possible,’ explains Gideon, who designed a protective metal gate for the glazed entrance door.

Interior design

Maximising and reflecting light is a major theme throughout all the spaces in the lower-ground floor, and the bespoke MDF kitchen cabinets have been spray-painted white, fitted with glass shelving and illuminated from within. Orange glass was chosen for the splashbacks, while large-format white porcelain floor tiles have been laid over electric underfloor heating. Anthony also devised a thoughtful lighting scheme, paying close attention to every small detail, both indoors and out.

The spacious open-plan kitchen/dining/living area is connected to the ground floor above by a staircase designed by Anthony, with walnut-clad treads and a contemporary painted wood and glass balustrade, which was inspired by a picture seen in a magazine. There are built-in understairs cupboards, and, to the right of these, a shower room that has been refitted as part of the extensive renovation. Gideon is a rug designer who works from home and produces artwork, on which he bases his handmade rug designs, and these take pride of place. ‘One of the rugs in the TV room was inspired by light and shadow, and there’s another in the living area of the new extension,’ he says.

Since the renovation and extension project was completed, the family have had plenty of space in which to cook, eat and relax. They have also made the most of the sliding screens, which can be closed for soundproofing and privacy or left open to connect the TV/music room to the adjacent open-plan kitchen/dining/living room, making it ideal for parties. In summer, the folding external doors are pushed right back so that the terrace becomes part of the space.

‘It was a major building project, which has transformed the house and the way we live,’ says Lucy. ‘We used to find the kitchen claustrophobic before, but now we love spending time in the open-plan room because of the light and space it offers. We definitely have no plans to move.’

The costs

Building work and materials£82,000
Windows, doors and screens£35,000
External works£20,000
Electrics, plumbing and heating£18,000
Kitchen units, worktops and splashback£15,000
Kitchen appliances£8,000
Floor tiles£5,000