Real home: Long-term extension project creates the perfect family space

Kate and Adam’s three-pronged renovation took over a decade – but was well worth the wait

The Lewis family home has gone open-plan with a rear extension
(Image credit: Katie Lee)

After three major home renovation projects over 12 years, Kate and Adam Lewis finally have the sociable family home they dreamed of. They met in London when Kate was at university, and bought a new-build in Widnes, Cheshire. Then, in 2007, they found a three-bedroom 1930s semi closer to their jobs in Chester. ‘It felt bigger than our old house and we liked the character features like picture rails and parquet flooring,’ says Kate. ‘But it was at the height of the market, so we had to stretch ourselves.’

Before

The Lewis family home has gone open-plan with a rear extension

Before the extension, access to the garden was via an old-fashioned conservatory

(Image credit: Kate Lewis)

The previous owner had already gained planning permission for a fourth bedroom, but the couple felt their budget wouldn’t stretch to a two-storey extension. Instead they had the conservatory and coal shed demolished to create a single-storey rear extension

Profile

The owners Kate Lewis (@k8s_home (opens in new tab)), a data protection officer, her husband, Adam, a finance manager, their children, Evie and Ella, plus Mac the sproodle 
The property A four-bedroom 1930s semi in Chester
Project cost £187,800

‘This enabled us to relocate the galley kitchen to the back of the house and open it up to the dining room with a small sofa area,’ says Kate. ‘The old kitchen was split to become a downstairs toilet and small room that held the washing machine, desk and toys.’

After

The Lewis family home has gone open-plan with a rear extension

After the second extension in 2013, the old garage became a store room and the patio was replaced with a raised deck. ‘The U-shaped garden is handy as you can hide my veg patch and cutting garden around the corner,’ says Kate

(Image credit: Katie Lee)

Living in the mess wasn’t easy, though. ‘What sticks with me was washing up
in the bath when I was almost nine months pregnant and coming home from hospital with my first child on the day the builders finished,’ remembers Kate.

The Lewis family home has gone open-plan with a rear extension

Kate chose a classic Shaker-style kitchen with quartz wortktops that blended with the existing utility room units. ‘I’d asked Grosvenor Granite for Silestone Haiku, but they suggested another option almost identical in colour but better value.’ Units in Tewkesbury Stone, Howdens (opens in new tab). Quartz worktops in Diresco Premium Cotton Beige, Grosvenor Granite (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: Katie Lee)

The Lewis family home has gone open-plan with a rear extension

‘We love the roof lantern in the kitchen,’ says Kate. ‘It makes this space so light.’ Because of the low ceiling, we wanted oak floating shelves rather than wall cupboards. I’d seen the pan rail idea in a home magazine and loved it.’ Reclaimed oak shelves, The Good Shelf Company (opens in new tab). Pan rail, Ikea (opens in new tab). Copper pans, Sainsbury’s (opens in new tab)and Marks & Spencer (opens in new tab). Oven, Rangemaster (opens in new tab). Egon Schiele Fushsia poster, Juniqe (opens in new tab). Kamran Coral rug, Ruggable (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: Katie Lee)

Five years later, thanks to a bigger than expected windfall from Kate’s company share save scheme, a side extension was suddenly on the cards again. The five-month extension project created two children’s bedrooms upstairs, while the former box room became the couple’s en suite. Below they gained a playroom, utility and a room that could be knocked through to the kitchen at a later date when funds allowed.

‘I used to call it the non-room, but it was handy when we got our kittens, for kids’ parties or for working out.’ At this stage the old windows were replaced to match the new, and the boiler was upgraded along with two hot water tanks in the loft.

Before

The Lewis family home has gone open-plan with a rear extension

The old kitchen was split to become a small room which held the washing machine before the house was opened up

(Image credit: Kate Lewis)

After

After three years of intensive saving, it was time to say goodbye to the non-room and remove the original back wall to create a large open-plan kitchen diner come lounge area with bi-fold doors. ‘It was essentially knocking four rooms into one,’ says Kate. ‘We originally wanted the kitchen to be where the sofas are now, but the builders said it would be too expensive to move the services. It still works really well as a sociable space, though, and the sofas get moved around for children’s parties.’

The Lewis family home has gone open-plan with a rear extension

Still Waiting print by Sofia Lind, Rose & Grey (opens in new tab). Faux olive tree, Ikea (opens in new tab). Bar stools, Cox & Cox (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: Katie Lee)

Sadly Kate’s sister passed away a month into the build, but the new space has helped them spend quality time together as a family. ‘It means my parents, my sister’s children and us can be together without it just having to be a day trip, since we live two-and-a-half hours apart,’ she says.

The Lewis family home has gone open-plan with a rear extension

'Bi-folds were the trend at the time. Looking back now, I might have chosen sliding doors as you get more of a view,’ says Kate. ‘And they’d probably be more beneficial with a dog.’ Blue sofa, Marks & Spencer  (opens in new tab)

Weigh up the pros and cons between bi-folds and sliding doors with our guide.

(Image credit: Katie Lee)

Kate’s interior style has evolved over the years. ‘It was very plain and cream to begin with, but I’ve gradually got bolder with colour, pattern and paper,’ she says. ‘I didn’t get into Instagram until Covid hit, so I’ve been exposed to a lot more design ideas in the last couple of years. Next, I’d like to recover the sofas with patterned velvet fabric and add more wallpaper somewhere.’

The Lewis family home has gone open-plan with a rear extension

In phase two of their building work, an old fashioned gas fire was removed and the brickwork exposed. ‘We finally got to replace the dining table I’d hated for years,’ says Kate. ‘As it’s such an investment buy, I wanted to take my time and get it right.’ Ellis dining table, Swoon (opens in new tab). Thornton dining chairs, Cult Furniture (opens in new tab). Faux fur seat pads, Dunelm (opens in new tab). Lights, Cox & Cox (opens in new tab). Blue vases, Arket (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: Katie Lee)

The Lewis family home has gone open-plan with a rear extension

Kate opted for a Woodchip & Magnolia (opens in new tab)mural that would tie into the wall colour. Nidra Pebble Grey (opens in new tab) wall mural, Woodchip & Magnolia. Sofas, Stokers of Chester (opens in new tab). Table lamp, Next (opens in new tab). Side table and grey rug, Ikea (opens in new tab). Cushions, H&M Home (opens in new tab), Rockett St George (opens in new tab). Walls painted in Soft Silver, Laura Ashley  (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: Katie Lee)

Two years later, the family bathroom was replaced, the hallway painted blue and the front sitting room given a fresh look with a new gas fire, refurbished parquet flooring and alcove cupboards. Finally, with the children getting older and the need to work from home during lockdown, the playroom was split into an office and snug with a pocket door in between. ‘It’s used much more now,’ says Kate. ‘My husband works upstairs, so we have our own spaces.’

The Lewis family home has gone open-plan with a rear extension

‘I considered a French-style bed but went for panelling instead in case we got bored of it,’ says Kate. ‘After a year I added the wallpaper to tie everything together. I’d never been keen on the wall colour before, but it worked after that.’ Bespoke panelling, Panel Master (opens in new tab), painted in Play Me a Melody, Valspar (opens in new tab). Walls painted in School House White, Farrow & Ball (opens in new tab). Paradisa wallpaper, House of Hackney (opens in new tab). Hemnes bedside tables, Ikea (opens in new tab). Lamps, The White Company (opens in new tab). Cushions, Zara Home (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: Katie Lee)

In retrospect, Kate admits she might have ended up with a different layout if the work had been done all at once. ‘I love it when you walk into a house and you can see right through to the back,’ she explains. ‘But we couldn’t justify moving the downstairs toilet that we’d installed during the first extension to accommodate that.’

The Lewis family home has gone open-plan with a rear extension

During the second build in 2013, a bright pink nursery was transformed into an en suite. ‘We stole some of the landing so as not to compromise the furniture placement in the bedroom,’ says Kate. Bath, Bathstore. Art, Egon Schiele White Chrysanthemum, Juniqe. Shutters, California Shutters (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: Katie Lee)

Although Adam had a tight rein on the finances and they sold their old kitchen and conservatory on Ebay (opens in new tab), the couple admit it wasn’t cost effective to do the work in so many phases. ‘We probably wouldn’t get the money back if we sold it,’ says Kate. ‘But this is our long term home, and we’re happy because we’re enjoying the space.’

Contacts

Panelling Panel Master (opens in new tab)
Joinery Chester Joinery (opens in new tab)

The Lewis family home has gone open-plan with a rear extension

As Ella’s favourite colour is green, it’s been painted across the ceiling and above the picture rail for a cosy, cocoon-like feel. Kate picked out several wallpaper options but gave Ella the final say, and painted a section behind the bed in lead grey to make the hanging lights stand out. Top of wall painted in Breakfast Room Green (opens in new tab); behind bed painted in Down Pipe (opens in new tab), both Farrow & Ball (opens in new tab). Upholstered bed, Sofa.com (opens in new tab). Light curtain, Amazon (opens in new tab). Nightfall wallpaper, Linwood (opens in new tab). Striped bedlinen, H&M (opens in new tab). Cushions, Homesense (opens in new tab), Habitat at Sainsbury’s (opens in new tab) ‘Love’ print, Susie Cutie Designs (opens in new tab). Black shelf, Dowsing & Reynolds (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: Katie Lee)

The Lewis family home has gone open-plan with a rear extension

‘We always knew we wanted to change the bathroom, but it wasn’t a priority with all the other building work going on,' says Kate. 'By the time it was done, I’d got braver and decided to add wallpaper.’ Tiles, vanity unit and sink, all Easy Bathrooms (opens in new tab). Baja wallpaper by Albany Wallpapers, Wallpaper Direct (opens in new tab). Mirror, Rose & Grey (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: Katie Lee)

The Lewis family home has gone open-plan with a rear extension

Having experimented with dark grey walls, Kate realised a lighter, fresher feel was needed in Evie’s bedroom. ‘She wanted a calm, boho look, so we bought a bargain rattan bed and she’s added her own touches, like trailing faux ivy and lights,’ she says.  Bed, Aldi. (opens in new tab)Tassel throw, Ebay. (opens in new tab) Desk, Argos (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: Katie Lee)
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