Real home: a terraced home transformed with a loft and rear extension

Along with a team of architects, Matt Jones transformed his house into a bright and open modern home

Plywood kitchen with yellow units and an island with dark blue and black bar stools
(Image credit: Malcolm Menzies © Future)

Finding an innovative way to transform something as ordinary as a terraced home can be difficult. But occasionally, we come across something that stops us in our tracks. With its clever layout, minimalist plywood storage and sunny yellow kitchen, Matt Jones’ architect-designed home does just that.

Moving into the house with a clear vision of a modern family home, Matt was keen to enlist the services of Gruff Architects and create an open-plan layout to replace the property’s awkward arrangement of rooms. Previous homeowners had extended upwards and outwards, so Matt and the architects set to work making the most of the space, as well as designing a home office space in a disused outbuilding in the garden. 

The result is a creative, stimulating and fun house that uses a huge range of materials – from cork and concrete to zinc kitchen door fronts – for a contemporary finish. Read on for a tour of Matt's home, then get more inspiration from our other completed projects.

Kitchen extension with French doors

Thrutone fibre cement tiles, Eternit (opens in new tab). Pocket door, Maxlight (opens in new tab). Glazing, Express Bi-folding Doors (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: Malcolm Menzies © Future)
Project notes

The owner Matt Jones, a designer, lives here with his partner and his twin children, six

The property A 1930s terraced house in London

Project cost A similar project would cost in excess of £225,000

‘Gruff Architects did a good job with the insulation, and the materials are generally eco-friendly – we have cork, ply and zinc around the house. We also have a solar battery system that can generate nearly all the electricity we need on a sunny day. I’m interested in water conservation, and I would have liked to do more – it’s more difficult to do that when you’re in such an urban area.’

Plywood kitchen with yellow units and an island with dark blue and black bar stools

Kitchen, Naked Kitchens (opens in new tab). Worktops and concrete tiles, Designer Stone (opens in new tab). Tap, Teka (opens in new tab). Sink, Franke (opens in new tab). Engineered oak chevron flooring, The Natural Wood Floor Co (opens in new tab). Bar stools, John Lewis & Partners (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: Malcolm Menzies © Future)

'We wanted a space that was pleasing and light, with a good kitchen and a decent play area for the kids. I specifically wanted to work with Gruff Architects. I used to walk past their shop window every day and I love the way they use materials and craft pieces that are sympathetic to the spaces they’re in.

‘I did some sketches and talked to one of the partners, then I had a few meetings with Coral McGarrigle, our architect, where we looked at materials and talked about the layout and the general design. The main concept was to open up the ground floor and connect it to the garden. The studio at the bottom of the garden opens up, too, so it turns into one big space.’

Built-in plywood shelving

(Image credit: Malcolm Menzies © Future)

‘We’re super happy with the yellow kitchen. We didn’t want a neutral scheme everywhere – we wanted something interesting and expressive, even mood-altering. On a grey day, the kitchen is refreshing, but on a sunny day, it’s just amazing. 

‘Choosing that colour was the best decision we made. We spend 80 per cent of our time here and I love cooking and baking, so it’s a pleasure to cook in here. The kids sit at the stools and we sit around there with our food – I think I can count on one hand the number of times we’ve actually eaten around the dining table.'

Built-in plywood storage and downstairs toilet with green tiling

Narina Green wallpaper, Designer Wallpapers (opens in new tab). Floor tiles, Bert & May (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: Malcolm Menzies © Future)

'Coral and my partner had the idea for the colour in the downstairs cloakroom. It’s a small space but the pop of pattern and vibrant green breaks up the neutrality of the
ply storage in the main living area, adding interest to the scheme.'

A plywood living room with built-in storage, leading into an open plan dining area with Eames-style chairs

Acton Charcoal seat cover fabric, Ian Mankin (opens in new tab). For a similar sofa, try Loaf (opens in new tab). Side table, West Elm (opens in new tab). For dining chairs, try Cult Furniture (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: Malcolm Menzies © Future)
More from Real Homes

Front cover of the July issue of Real Homes magazine

(Image credit: Chris Snook)

Get inspiration and advice for your own renovation, plus tips on the hottest decorating trends, delivered every month with a subscription (opens in new tab) 

'The kitchen is the heart of the home, and we spend most of our time hanging around the island. The front part of the space is for TV and games – it’s more like a nook, I suppose. We have a lot of books and play a lot of board games; the fitted open storage helps to accommodate all of that. Our contractor made the dining table out of ply and bolted on some legs, so that’s where we play together.

‘It all comes together as one living space, but the nice thing is that we tend to spend more time around the kitchen. As the weather gets better, we can throw the doors open and mill around on the deck.'

Kid's room with built-in plywood furniture

Children’s beds, Ikea (opens in new tab). Cork tiles, The Cork Flooring Co (opens in new tab). Theatre dark blue seat fabric, Jane Clayton (opens in new tab). Phoenix Dawn seat fabric, Korla (opens in new tab). For a children’s easel, try Ikea

(Image credit: Malcolm Menzies © Future)

'I had the kids choose their fabrics for the window seats in their room. My son has a lot of allergies, so we chose materials with that in mind. They’re twins, so they play together a lot. It was Coral’s idea to have the connecting door between their rooms. The whole of the first floor basically opens up, and it’s theirs to have as a play space. The rooms only really become bedrooms at night.'

Loft bedroom with built-in plywood furniture

Plant stand, Ikea (opens in new tab). Acton Charcoal seat fabric, Ian Mankin (opens in new tab). Cork tiles, Cork Flooring Co (opens in new tab). Bathroom floor tiles, Tiles Direct (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: Malcolm Menzies © Future)

We have a lot of prints, artefacts and pieces of memorabilia that we wanted space for, so we had plenty of fitted storage put in around the house. The bedroom gets really good light from the south-facing window. We went for a neutral scheme to emphasise that brightness. My partner and I both lived in Brooklyn, New York, so we wanted to capture the feeling of the apartments we had when we were over there.

Bedroom in a loft with natural wood furniture including Ercol bed

For an Ercol bed, try John Lewis & Partners (opens in new tab). Bedside table, Swoon Editions (opens in new tab). For a similar monochrome rug, try Modern Rugs (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: Malcolm Menzies © Future)


More project advice:

Ellen Finch
Deputy editor

Joining as features editor in 2017, Ellen now looks after the day-to-day running of Real Homes magazine as deputy editor. She also commissions and writes many of the real case studies you'll see on the site, and loves speaking to people about their homes and get the details on the hacks they've tried and loved. She's currently gearing up to buy a home of her own in 2023 – hopefully with a garden to plant veg and wildflowers – and has a special interest in sustainable living, clever book storage, and cats.