Real home: this kitchen extension is packed with colour

Hilary Satchwell and Richard Robinson used an awkward side return to create a bright, multifunctional kitchen-diner

Hilary Satchwell and Richard Robinson used an awkward side return to create a bright, multifunctional kitchen-diner in their 1960s end of terrace in Forest Hill, London
(Image credit: Malcolm Menzies)

For Hilary and Richard, the chance for multifunctional living was the draw for having their kitchen extended. Though they both have experience in the field, the couple decided to recruit an architect who understood the nuances of smaller extension projects. Doing so meant they could successfully tackle an awkward plot to create a bright and colourful space that provides the functionality and flexibility their family needs. Here, Hilary reveals the steps they took to achieve their new extension.

If you plan to make use of wasted space by extending your house, we have lots of ideas and advice (opens in new tab) to guide you on how to do it.  And for more real home transformations (opens in new tab), head to our hub page.

Hilary Satchwell and Richard Robinson used an awkward side return to create a bright, multifunctional kitchen-diner in their 1960s end of terrace in Forest Hill, London

‘It took us a while to decide what to do with the awkward space to the side of the property,’ says Hilary

(Image credit: Malcolm Menzies)
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The owners Hilary Satchwell, an architect and urban designer (tibbalds.co.uk (opens in new tab)), her husband, Richard Robinson, a studio manager for an architecture firm (metwork.co.uk (opens in new tab)), and their sons, Arthur and Henry
The property A three-bedroom 1960s end of terrace in Forest Hill, London
Project cost £224,750

‘We lived in our house for over a decade before we decided to extend,’ says Hilary. ‘When we moved in, what we wanted from the house was quite different to what we need some 14 years later. The boys shared a bedroom because it was useful to have a spare room for studying and washing, but 10 years later, with both in their teenage years, they needed their own space. ‘In order to do that, we needed extra ground floor space to replace the multifunctional spare room. We had a funny little slither of space down the side of the house where we had a shed. We went through so many options until I said, “What if we extended down the side? How big would it be?” Over the next couple of years, our architect, Russell, brought our ideas to life.’

Hilary Satchwell and Richard Robinson used an awkward side return to create a bright, multifunctional kitchen-diner in their 1960s end of terrace in Forest Hill, London

'Typically, the new windows were the element that caused the most delays – we’ve watched enough Grand Designs to have expected that. We were protected from the elements by a bit of plywood – but it just becomes normal.’ Glazing, Velfac (opens in new tab). For bi-fold doors, try Kloeber (opens in new tab). Hans Wegner blue chair and footstool, Dagmar Design at Modernshows (opens in new tab), upholstered in tweed fabric from Bute (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: Malcolm Menzies)

‘My background is in larger-scale architectural projects, whereas Russell brought the attention to detail needed for extension work. As we drew up plans, one of the key questions was what shape it would be. Would it have a flat roof, a curved one, a pitched one? The strange wedge-shaped space we had to work with added to the challenge.

‘I wanted to avoid an extension that connected to the existing house by a sloped ridge, but we had to work out a way to get volume despite the small square footage of the addition. The answer was to create a fold effect that adds height to the living area of the space. It was also important the build didn’t impose on the view of the neighbours who face onto our side wall, so we hid the build behind a garden wall.’

Hilary Satchwell and Richard Robinson used an awkward side return to create a bright, multifunctional kitchen-diner in their 1960s end of terrace in Forest Hill, London

We only gained a small amount of floor space but it’s made a huge difference.’ Cupboards faced with laminate colours 468, 469, 834 and 835, Abet Lamineti (opens in new tab). Dining table, Crystal Palace Antiques (opens in new tab). Vitra DSW chairs, Utility Design (opens in new tab). Normann Copenhagen pendant lights, Papillon Interiors (opens in new tab). Fridge, Smeg (opens in new tab), All other appliances, Neff (opens in new tab). Wall clock, Made (opens in new tab). Rubber flooring, Chasing Space (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: Malcolm Menzies)

Hilary Satchwell and Richard Robinson used an awkward side return to create a bright, multifunctional kitchen-diner in their 1960s end of terrace in Forest Hill, London

'The kitchen is bespoke birch-based ply units made by a local carpenter. Ikea pull-out drawers and fittings kept the cost down.’ Quartz worktops, Nerostein (opens in new tab). Tap, Ikea (opens in new tab). Cork splashback, Jelinek (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: Malcolm Menzies)

‘We applied for planning permission and we had to make a few changes, like the colour of the brick, but nothing too painful. We’re up against a boundary with communal land, so it was simpler than if it had been the neighbours’ boundaries. We did have to talk to our neighbours because the path at the side of the plot, which is used to access some of the houses in the estate, needed to be temporarily moved to their front garden while the build work was going on. Luckily they were incredibly helpful. 

‘The builders started in October and were working outside until mid-January, so they were no bother. It got more difficult when they broke through into the house and we had to give up the ground floor. Our spare room became a kitchen-dining-everything room!’

Hilary Satchwell and Richard Robinson used an awkward side return to create a bright, multifunctional kitchen-diner in their 1960s end of terrace in Forest Hill, London

‘We can live in the same space without being on top of each other, which is so important with teenagers,’ says Hilary. Joinery, Apple Construction. Sofa, Habitat. (opens in new tab) Prints, clockwise from left, Peter Green, Valerie Davide and Robert Taverner

(Image credit: Malcolm Menzies)

‘I really like bright colours, and it won’t surprise you that I’m often wearing something bold. I wanted the space to be as light as possible, especially as the existing part of the ground floor can feel quite dark. My husband laughs at me because my point of reference was the kind of brightness you get when it’s been snowing outside and the light bounces off the white. The pale grey rubber flooring mimics that effect. 

‘We chose materials based on practicality, sustainability and affordability. We made sure we weren’t spending on things we didn’t need to. Lots of glazing was the real must-have. We didn’t want lots of rooflights that would make us feel overlooked, so most of the light comes from big windows and doors either side of the extension.’

Hilary Satchwell and Richard Robinson used an awkward side return to create a bright, multifunctional kitchen-diner in their 1960s end of terrace in Forest Hill, London

Rug, Habitat (opens in new tab). Pattern armchair, vintage Ercol (opens in new tab), reupholstered by Stage One Upholstery (opens in new tab) in Peter and Linda Green Colourdrome fabric from St Judes (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: Malcolm Menzies)
Contacts

Architect Russell Hunt Architects (opens in new tab)
Builder Adam Gray of Apple Construction, 07956 254522
Structural engineer Toynbee Associates (opens in new tab)

‘I like flexible spaces, and open-plan living works for us all. It’s given us a space that’s functional – it’s a living room, dining room and kitchen all in one. The study has doors that you can keep open to feel connected to the bigger extension, or close off to make the room a guest space of its own. 

‘Planning a kitchen when we knew exactly how much stuff we’ve got meant we could design something that fits precisely what we need, where we need it. It’s the little things that make the difference, like the fact that the dishes and cutlery are stacked in pull-out cupboards opposite the dishwasher. My mum has a big island in her kitchen and I never understood it, but it’s so much more sociable. I had to quietly admit that she was right all along.’

Hilary Satchwell and Richard Robinson used an awkward side return to create a bright, multifunctional kitchen-diner in their 1960s end of terrace in Forest Hill, London

‘I love the volume of the extension and the way the windows at the back look out to trees, It’s like a wall of greenery,’ says Hilary. Outdoor table and bench, Jennifer Newman Studio (opens in new tab). Magis Air outdoor chairs, SCP (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: Malcolm Menzies)
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Ellen Finch
Ellen Finch

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.

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