I am a huge fan of kitchen extensions with side returns, they really open up a space and create that live-in kitchen that modern families are craving. This is one of the projects that I have done at my own home: I’ve extended out the back of the property into the garden to create a large open-plan living space, with defined areas for relaxing, cooking and eating. Kitchens really do sell houses and a well designed extension that makes the most of the existing space, the area to the back and the under-utilised areas to the sides of a house, can have a really impressive result.
It’s important to get extensions right or they can end up looking like a box attached to your existing kitchen. Planning their layout and is important, not only aesthetically but also in terms of space. With a good extension the original kitchen and the new area should blend seamlessly. A badly planned kitchen will waste precious space that you have paid to add. It’s an area that really benefits from a lot of glazing and if you’re going to extend your property, you’ll need to consider lighting carefully. I have large sky lights in my extension that fill the space with natural light — without them the room would feel too dark. It’s important that any glazed areas comply with building regulations and although expensive, I would recommend using as much glazing as possible even though they are not the most energy efficient option.
Really popular now are fully glazed sliding door walls. These not only allow a lot of light into the room they also allow your garden to become an extension of your home — even when the weather doesn’t permit you to open them!
Side return extensions
You might not think it worth extending a measly few feet either side of your property, but it’s the fact that this subsequently enables much improved ‘use of space’ to the remainder of the room — you’ll be surprised what a difference it can make. A few extra feet width to a room really opens up the space and can make what was an average size room look a lot bigger. Side returns on their own might not be worthwhile, team them with a single-storey extension however and the additional cost is minimal. One of the main advantages of extending in to the passages/spaces between terraced houses is that these are areas of wasted space, so extending into them certainly won’t feel like it’s compromising your outside space.
If you are considering extending your kitchen/living space I would certainly recommend a single-storey extension, extending into the side returns where possible. Team it with lots of glazing and you’ll have a space that not only provides you with a modern family living space, but an improvement that could dramatically increase your home’s re-sale value.
Phil Spencer’s renovation checklist
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