The Colander was a traditional Victorian terraced house, with a very long and dark entrance hall, very dark kitchen and dining rooms with hardly any direct light. The brief from our client was to extend and brighten their kitchen, which was confined behind a semi-transparent lean-to, and to make sense of the disconnected interior and create a bright contemporary kitchen and dining space.
The owners wanted to explore options to make brighten and modernise the house, with a very tight budget. Among the priorities were to design a new kitchen, create additional space in the ground floor and add a new access to the loft (for much needed storage.) After analysing several combinations, we decided to focus on merging the kitchen and dining areas and extending the property into the side garden, the extension had to be minimal to keep the costs under control.
We met the clients at our Richmond Open House event and immediately clicked. Lesley and Alan were looking to extend and brighten their kitchen, which was confined behind a semi-transparent lean-to. We managed to provide a solution that creatively increased the brightness not only in the kitchen but also in the dining area and the adjoining corridor.
After analysing several combinations, we decided to focus on merging the kitchen and dining areas and extending the property into the side garden. The extension had to be minimal to keep the costs under control. Together with the clients, we also agreed that the main theme of the project would be that of bringing as much light to the centre of the house, which was extremely dark and unwelcoming. We would take advantage of every opportunity to achieve our goal.
The first step was to solve the layout in a form that would allow minimising extension while maximising the use of the existing space. We proposed flipping around the kitchen-dining layout, with the dining slightly tucked in a curved alcove, and the kitchen in the centre of the home; the kitchen cabinets are placed on the furthest point from the new windows, while the island would be facing the garden and the light.
The work on increasing the light internally started by devising a fully glazed side extension. We then added high level, interior windows, that would bring light and a sense of mystery to the long, dark entrance corridor on the ground floor.
There were several challenges throughout the project. The first was the very tight budget, to achieve the home they wanted we had to work hard during the detailing and tendering stages to keep costs down.
The second was the local regulation, which required the side extension to be very low and to have a pitched roof. We reached out to the neighbour and worked closely with them to obtain permission for a higher party wall and a flat glazed roof.
Finally, due to the relatively small size of the project we had to work creatively to maximise the internal space to ensure we were able to achieve all the client wanted from their new kitchen.
The tight space gave us the opportunity to play with furniture and fixed elements. The worktop is cut with a double curve to allow the door to swing, freeing the views to the window from the sink. When the door is shut, the double curve resembles a fine detail from another time or another place.
Layout and main spaces
The interior finishes and details reflect the history of the building as well as the client's passion for contemporary contextual architecture. Throughout this project we have shown and celebrated all our interventions by exposing the structure and symbolically showing the foundations. The new columns are slim round sections, two on one side one on the other side of the room. The new foundations are shown as concrete strips and pads in the floor.
The high-level windows, used for introducing natural light into the corridor, created the opportunity to define a horizontal line running all around the room. We simply left the plaster exposed above that line, determining a light pink "cornice" detail. The ceiling has, on the contrary a very contemporary shadow gap detail. The floor finish is fitted at 45 degrees angles and in two separate carpets. Floor, ceilings, windows and walls are in very contrasting dark and light colours.
The new staircase to the loft was also an opportunity to bring in light, through a generous roof light that completely transformed the first floor landing.