Extending to double the size of a kitchen

With years of careful planning, Lily and Karl Veuleman refined their design ideas and extended their kitchen to create a light-filled space for entertaining

TODO alt text

When we told our friends we were thinking of extending our kitchen they couldn’t understand it,’ says Karl. ‘Our existing kitchen was already reasonably large, but we wanted to add more light and space downstairs. People asked why we didn’t move house instead, but we knew we would struggle to find what we were after at a price we could afford.’ Lily and Karl were also well placed for their work and didn’t want to move from the area.

It took four years for the Veulemans’ plans to evolve from initial thoughts of a conservatory into a modern glass and aluminium extension, as they kept changing their minds about the design. The couple knew they wanted to enhance light and space, but didn’t want to live with any mistakes made through lack of planning.

‘We spent a long time going through ideas until we knew exactly how the room was going to look and where everything would be, right down to the smallest appliance,’ says Karl, who created a computer drawing of the extension so they could visualise the new kitchen in 3D.

Fact file

  • The owners: Lily Veuleman, a property manager, lives here with her husband Karl, an IT consultant
  • The property: A four-bedroom, semi-detached house built in 1926
  • The location: Manchester
  • What they spent: The couple’s kitchen project cost around £127,000

Planning the design

‘We were particularly keen to make the extension energy-efficient,’ Karl adds. The Veulemans had already fitted solar panels on the house and garage roof back in 2009, which cost £17,500, including a £2,500 grant. They also wanted to add water-based underfloor heating, argon-filled double-glazed windows, plus maximum insulation in the planned 65-square-metre extension.

Although Lily and Karl put out the work to tender, they already had a company in mind to supply their glass extension, and knew who they wanted to design and build the kitchen. A builder that Lily knew through her job agreed to do the structural work.

New kitchen extension to maximise light and space

The build

Work began in February 2011 after the glass extension company successfully applied for planning permission on behalf of the couple. Lily and Karl moved upstairs while the project was underway, and created a temporary kitchen with a microwave, fridge and a Chinese fondu set in one spare bedroom, while a living room was set up in another. ‘It was like camping in our own home,’ says Lily. ‘The builder made a temporary wall around the staircase with a lockable door, so we were secure while the back of the house was exposed.’

The layout of the old kitchen/dining/ living area was an L-shape, with French doors leading from a lean-to at the end of the living area into the garden. The lean-to was knocked down, the patio doors temporarily moved back into the original exterior wall, and the suspended floors dug out by 40 centimetres. The foundations for the new glazed area were dug out and concreted, and the side wall of the living space was built out to the full length of the extension. The original external rear wall was then knocked down and acro-propped until the steel support beams and a steel corner post were able to be installed to take the weight of the upper storey.

The entire floor of the space, including the extension, was then created with a damp-proof course, underfloor heating pipes, insulation, concrete and screed.

It took a week to build the walls and roof of the extension and install bi-fold doors, which open out the entire rear wall to the garden. Although the extension does encroach on the garden space, Lily and Karl still have plenty of room for the indoor/outdoor lifestyle they hoped for, and they have managed to retain their privacy despite the extensive use of glass. ‘We are only overlooked by one neighbouring window,’ explains Lily. ‘One of the reasons we wanted to stay in this house was because of the level of privacy, which we have managed to maintain.’

With the extension sealed and secure, the walls were plastered, floor tiles laid and the new kitchen units installed. The original side window in the kitchen, which overlooks a fence, was replaced with glass blocks to bring in maximum light while retaining privacy.

Kitchen units in new extension

Interior design

One of the key elements of the open-plan living space is its versatility. ‘The old kitchen was quite big, but it always felt cramped when we had lots of guests,’ says Lily. ‘Now we can spread out into the space and no matter where you are in the room – whether in the kitchen, dining or living area – you are not excluded from anything that’s going on. It’s such a sociable space and we now find we live in here most of the time.’

The new kitchen has been designed with practicalities in mind. A central pillar provides space for an American-style fridge-freezer, and a wide breakfast bar includes a sink with a hot water tap for instant teamaking. Plenty of cupboards and clever storage designs maximise every inch of space in the new layout.

‘We wanted the kitchen units to be two different colours to add visual interest to the scheme,’ explains Lily. ‘The change is subtle but effective. I love cooking so we wanted to incorporate a large cooker, as well as two drawer dishwashers.’

Kitchen drawer detail in new extension

The finished project

Lily and Karl are convinced that the years of intricate planning, preparation and research have paid off and the end result has fulfilled everything they wanted to achieve. But even the best laid plans have occasional drawbacks. Karl originally wanted the floor levels between the extension and the patio to be flush, but there is a small step between the two, which he had not noticed until it was too late. With hindsight, he would also have preferred the breakfast bar to be positioned half a metre further into the room to create more space between it and the bi-fold doors.‘They are minor details, which I can live with, but perhaps if I had been slightly more involved with the day-to-day build I would have spotted these things in time,’ admits Karl.

Ultimately, the Veulemans are delighted with the end result. ‘I love being at home,’ says Lily. ‘No matter what the weather is like, it always feels light and sunny in here. It’s a fantastic, feel-good space.’

The costs

Building work£28,000
Kitchen units£27,000
Plumbing and electrics£10,000