Building Type: Extension and alterations to a Victorian house
Location: Exeter, Devon
Service: Planning stage drawings and design
Approx Budget Range: £150-200,000

The ground floor of this Victorian/Edwardian turn of the century building is substantial, but was divided up into small dark rooms as it had been rented out as a separate apartment. The walls were in unusual places, with some previous structural alterations.

The goal was to open up the ground floor and make better use of the garden, returning the whole building into a family home. The small ‘side return’ space in the garden was very long and narrow, and darker than most being surrounded by tall buildings and facing north. It was always under-utilised and became a bit of a wasted space. The¬†building has a very deep floor plan and so maintaining light into the centre of the building was crucial to realising the design. The centre space is now a cosy transition space between the front lounge, and the rear kitchen-dining-living space. It functions as a central hub for the ground floor with access to a new wc under the stairs and includes a family piano, shelving, children’s toys and a space for coats and shoes. This space allows the rear room to be light and airy and still function well as a clean, functional and social space.

The former flat’s diving walls were removed, and a new insulated floor with underfloor heating and new drainage was laid to form a single enlarged rear space. The spaces at the front of the building were reinstated to the original sizes and shapes with new flooring, decoration and electrics. A sliding pocket door was included between the front and middle room to maximise the daylight when open. This allows the open plan living to work well but retain flexibility for use. Fairly significant structural work was carried out to the rear to enable the side part of the garden to be included within the dwelling. It involved some significant steel beams and a corner column. The garden boundary wall was lined internally in block and insulated to form a new warm dry interior wall.

Only the narrow strip of garden to the side was lost, leaving a sunken courtyard accessed directly from the rear living space and kitchen through the bi-fold sliding doors. A further garden area is up some steps. While some square meterage of garden was lost, the accessible and useful area is now more functional, accessed from the open plan kitchen-diner.