‘When we bought our house three years ago the only thing going for it was its location and the stunning view of the garden,’ says Sarah. ‘I’d lost count of how many properties we had seen, but something about it seemed right, and we knew we could transform it.’
Built on a slope, it looks like a rather unassuming single-storey bungalow from the front, but at the rear it drops down with another level below. Whoever had built the house hadn’t taken the layout into account, however, as the design was very enclosed with a series of rooms leading off each other. ‘Paul and I could see that by remodelling the layout and installing floor-to-ceiling windows, the house would be transformed,’ says Sarah.
The owners: Sarah Roberts, a trustee for a pancreatic cancer charity, lives here with husband Paul, a company director
Moving out of London to leafy Buckinghamshire, the couple wanted a more laid-back way of life. As well as having a good-sized garden, the house was close to shops and restaurants and, as the sale was chain-free, they moved in six weeks after putting in an offer.
Sarah and Paul had initially considered demolishing the house and rebuilding a new one to their specifications, but as the bungalow is built on a slope, the necessary groundworks would have been costly. It made more sense to remodel the original structure. ‘We read about local architect Jonathan Dale (janeduncanarchitects.co.uk), who had won an award for a contemporary new-build that we liked. We asked him to design a modern space that would make the most of the view,’ says Sarah. ‘Within six months, the plans were approved and the builders started taking the house back to its shell.’
When the top floor was completely gutted, the couple created a self-contained living space on the lower floor. ‘With two rooms and a basic kitchen and bathroom, it saved us having to rent somewhere,’ says Sarah. ‘It also meant we were on site if the builders needed to ask us anything.’
As well as the layout being changed, the entire house was re-plastered, re-plumbed and rewired. Some internal walls were removed to create an open-plan scheme, and the new design included re-siting the kitchen at the rear of the house. ‘While there was nothing wrong with the old kitchen, it was tucked away at the side of the house with a view of a hedge and next door’s garage,’ Sarah explains. ‘At the back, there was a leaky conservatory that bizarrely backed on to a bedroom. It seemed obvious to relocate the kitchen here to take full advantage of the fabulous views, and this is the only part of the house that was actually extended during the renovation work.’
The re-planning of this level meant the bedroom was being taken out, so there was nothing to stop a new kitchen extension replacing the conservatory in such a prime position leading on to a garden terrace. The architect designed a modern glass and rendered box extension featuring a continuous rooflight along the length of the side wall, which floods light into the working area of the new kitchen. ‘The design is intended to make the roof appear impossibly thin, while the height of the glass doors is maximised,’ says Sarah.
One of the biggest outlays was the glass, which the couple sourced themselves to keep down the cost. ‘It was supplied by a specialist glazing contractor. Dealing directly with them saved us money, but the glass for the kitchen and living room still came to more than £50,000,’ says Sarah.
The couple had specific ideas of how they wanted the kitchen to look. It had to be streamlined to work with the graphic lines of the glazing and modern style of the space. The architect recommended Top Notch Designs (topnotchdesigns.co.uk), a local bespoke kitchen company. ‘We had already chosen a quartz work surface, so the cabinetry was sprayed in two shades to match it,’ says Sarah. ‘The worktop contains fragments of shell and mother-of-pearl so we opted for one colour for the bank of units and a darker shade for the island.’
Although the couple had a separate dining room, they wanted an informal dining space, too. The long shape of the kitchen meant there was space at the end of the island for a bar-height table. Sarah and Paul liked the idea that it would continue as part of the island, but kitchen designer Michael Manners suggested having it in wood to define the eating space from the food preparation area and add warmth to the neutral scheme. ‘We also felt it would be more comfortable sitting next to a wooden surface rather than a cold quartz one,’ says Sarah.
A year after the project began, the kitchen was completed, offering stunning views. ‘It has inspired us to work on the garden and I’ve started a vegetable patch,’ says Sarah. ‘The interior and exterior are part of the same space now rather than being independent of each other.’
|Kitchen cabinetry and appliances||£32,220|
|Plumbing, electrics and underfloor heating||£4,350|