Building Type: Extension and alteration to a Victorian terrace

Location: Exeter, Devon

Service: Detailed design & on-site stage

Approx Budget Range: £150-200,000

 

This kitchen extension made great use of space by moving the kitchen to a new, bright extension and forming a highly practical ground floor utility and shower room in the former kitchen space. Structural alterations allowed for a decent cooking area and a high specification contemporary kitchen makes the most of the naturally lit and well laid out space.

The project included a new first floor bathroom, the kitchen extension, forming a utility-come-shower/wc at ground floor, re-landscaping the garden and structural alterations to suit. A local kitchen fabricator/design company, Touch Design Group, expanded the architectural kitchen drawings and brought their own attention to detail and experience to the project. A huge amount of care was taken at the kitchen design team meetings that has allowed for every eventuality to be considered and designed for. It is not a large space, but the efficient use of display cabinets as working cupboards and well ordered drawers, worktops and lighting makes for a highly practical and functional kitchen.

Numerous meetings were held to discuss and develop the design, from choosing the right handles, to fundamental decisions such as width of openings, height of shelves, lighting layouts, choosing bricks and construction materials. Details such as oak ‘shadow gap’ skirting boards, and inset stainless steel threshold strips between new and old set the extension apart from the norm. These details took a lot of care to get right, guiding a skilled contractor to the end result. The final result is a team effort, that reflects the skills and experience of the team, but most of all is an addition to the client’s home that is both personal and distinctive. Spaces have been designed as fit for purpose. Items on the display shelves and stored in cupboards were measured and planned for during detailed design.

The main structure and fabric of the building has been built in a mix of traditional masonry and contemporary zinc roof, with large bi-fold doors and electric rooflights. The bricks are hand-made in matching coloured clay to their Victorian counterparts, yet at the flick of a switch the bespoke rooflights open up bringing fresh air and sunlight right into the heart of the kitchen. A local fabricator made the oak windows, doors and bi-fold doors, kept handleless for clean lines. An insulated suspended floor with under-floor-heating and wide engineered oak boards make the space warm and practical to use and look after.

Construction involved complex pile foundations as a deep victorian sewer runs just outside the line of the extension. The rooflights and zinc roof are specialised and took time both on-site by the contractor and in drawn detail design stages to ensure their function and fine lines. To maintain the sharp look of the space, items such as extracts and waste pipes all were given consideration and carefully threaded through the building out of sight.

The bright panels in the kitchen are Formica sheets bonded to both sides of furniture grade birch plywood. When drawers and doors are opened the structure of the plywood is revealed giving a warmth and honesty to the materials. A stainless steel worktop has been bonded to a fibreboard sub-base for rigidity, and it gives a great durable, yet not too hard, worktop. It is a softer surface than a stone, but extremely easy to maintain, with a pleasant patina developing through use. Combined with a wide-stave oak worktop for dry/clean  items the surfaces are easy to use and give a balance of beauty and function.

A bank of four rooflights sit flush within the standing seam zinc roof and can be operated electronically. Daylight from overhead, combined with concealed task lighting make for a very well lit and bright kitchen area.

Round the corner, beyond the line of the Victorian original house, is a softer area functioning as a garden room / casual sitting and dining area. Adjacent to the bi-fold doors a feature built-in shelving unit shows off collected treasures as well as cookbooks and more functional items. Externally as the levels drop away, and the garden is small, open gridded steps were fabricated to allow easy passage in and out. These allow the gravelled surface to flow underneath and keeps the visual size of the garden as big as possible.

 

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