Glazed timber extension

A contemporary three-storey extension has created the perfect sociable space and layout that Mohan Sivananthan craved. The extension has really opened up the existing space whilst still keeping with the 1920s style of the original property

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Mohan Sivananthan had put a great deal of thought into ways in which he could extend and modernise his 1920s detached property.

‘I wanted to create a more open-plan living and kitchen space – but without compromising the house’s period architecture and character,’ he explains.

He knew the original layout would have to change to achieve his dream space. The kitchen was small but functional, with a dated main bathroom directly above it. A playroom and a number of utility, cloak and storage rooms made the ground floor fragmented and impractical, while the first floor had three bedrooms, two bathrooms and a study.

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Mohan wanted to knock through the smaller rooms and remove internal walls to open up the space. He also envisaged a three-storey extension, which would include a new kitchen area and sitting room on the ground floor, a bathroom, a new en suite and an extra bedroom on the first floor, plus a second-floor home office.

The extension posed a problem for him, – he had to find an exact match for the existing brick and other materials, which would allow the new structure to blend seamlessly with the rest of the house.

‘I had the choice of trying to match the materials, or building a contemporary extension with its own distinctive identity,’ saysMohan. ‘I chose the contemporary option, but the challenge was to ensure it worked with the house.’

It took him several weeks to come up with a coherent design that would create the extra living space he wanted.

‘I drew up the plans myself and had them checked out by an architect,’ he explains. ‘I had a clear idea of what I wanted the extension to look like, including a glass atrium with the windows angled in such a way that when you look up through the middle of the roof all you can see is sky.’

The extension was built in glass over a steel frame. Mohan added slate columns and larch wood cladding to the design, but he looked at other houses with similar exteriors to ensure it wouldn’t stand out against the other properties in the street. A structural engineer checked and endorsed his calculations and drawings, and planning permission was duly granted.

‘In the meantime, I started looking for fixtures and furnishings, including a new kitchen,’ Mohan explains. ‘It was the first time I had done anything like this, so I thought it was best to plan ahead.

‘And it paid off,’ he adds. ‘By the time the renovation work had begun, I’d already bought everything I needed – from the kitchen units and appliances to the soft furnishings. I put it all into storage until the extension was complete.’

Mohan employed local tradespeople for the build, which began in August and was completed in December the following year. Work started with the old kitchen, pantry, cloakroom and dining space being knocked through, then a concrete raft foundation was laid for the extension.

‘I carried on living in the house while the work was under way, partly because it didn’t encroach on the rest of my home but I also wanted to be on site every day to monitor the build’s progress,’

he explains. ‘I’m not sure it was a wise decision, because I became aware of every little issue. It was also very noisy and the dust got everywhere.’

The steel frame of the 15m by 8m extension was erected first, interlocking with the original part of the property. The external walls were then built, along with a fibreglass roof to make it watertight, then the glass on the second floor was installed.

‘There was a delay when the angled pieces of glass, which were commissioned from Germany, got broken in transit, which of course meant they had to be re-ordered,’ saysMohan. ‘It was frustrating – but ultimately worth the wait.

‘Whether the windows are wide open or closed, it feels as though you are outside,’ he adds. ‘I love being able to see so much of the sky from inside my house.’

The floors were created from interlocking concrete blocks, before water-based underfloor heating was laid on the ground floor and screeded over, leaving the installation of the sliding doors until last.

The windows and doors in the extension were made with argon-filled, self-cleaning Pilkington K glass, which cleverly deflects the heat in the summer and draws it inside during the winter. As Mohan explains: ‘I have no need for heating on the second floor because the heat rises.’

Mohan was keen to make a focal point within the new open-plan living and kitchen space, so he designed a marble-clad fireplace for the far end of the ground floor. To create the fireplace centrally in the space, it was constructed on a steel frame.

‘I wanted a fireplace that looks as though it’s floating,’ saysMohan, ‘so the marble wall above it is arranged in such a way that it reflects light at various angles and forms an interesting pattern.’

A similar method has been used to build the external slate pillars, creating another link between the inside and outside.

In order to link the new extension with the original part of the 1920s house, Mohan knocked through a wall leading directly off the extension into an existing games room. He then had a steel and glass staircase built between the first and second floors.

‘The staircase has a steel skeleton with a spine and ribs attached, plus two steel plates top and bottom to take the weight,’ says Mohan. ‘All the glass treads are fixed in place with industrial strength double-sided tape – it’s remarkably strong.’

Glass floor panels on the first floor landing and the second floor office link the storeys vertically. The glazed internal walls of the new bedroom and bathroom, which flank the atrium at first floor level, draw light through horizontally.

‘I wasn’t afraid to experiment to get this look,’ says Mohan. ‘It’s turned out brilliantly – the extension complements the original exterior, while inside the new rooms link to the older part with glass and open spaces.’

With the new main bathroom already created in the extension, Mohan wanted to add en suite bathrooms to the other bedrooms in the original part of the house. However, instead of trying to fit a small en suite into each of the bedrooms, he came up with a great solution – an en suite bathroom between two of them, with doors at each end leading into it.

‘I wanted one bathroom between the bedrooms as it provides more space than two smaller en suites,’ he explains. ‘I installed double basins and mirrors to make the space fully functional for both rooms.’

Mohan has made sure the interior décor works with the contemporary look of the extension but managed to keep his existing antique and period-style pieces.

‘I looked through home magazines for ideas and eventually chose pieces that are stylish and modern,’ he says. ‘The mix of old and new is eclectic, I know, but they look great together.’

The new look has changed the way Mohan lives. He used to spend more time in his sitting room than in the original kitchen. Now, the open-plan living and kitchen area is the focal point of his house and he likes nothing better than inviting his friends over for a game of snooker, or cooking for friends and family in his contemporary kitchen.

‘The new living area is a very sociable space,’ says Mohan. ‘I held a party shortly after the extension was finished. The house was full and it really put the layout to the test – but it worked brilliantly.’


Building work£200,000
Fixtures and fittings£45,000
Decoration and lighting£30,000