Get ideas on how to extend your ground floor while keeping some of your home’s original character
Houzz UK deputy editor. I’m an interiors journalist and editor, previously for the… More
Deciding to extend is exciting – there’s the promise of all that extra space, and also how much it’ll change the way you and your family live in your home. As you’ll already know if you’ve started to look into design ideas, there are many ways to go, but often the chief consideration is how best to make the most of the space. Beyond that, it’s not always obvious how many different aesthetic choices there may be for your particular project and, if you have a period house, you may well be hoping to give your extension as much character as the rest of your home. If so, let these images inspire you.
And remember, any photos you like can be saved into an ideabook to show your architect. You can even contact the architect behind any of the designs shown here by clicking on the photo to get their details.
Further reading: Tips on how to use Houzz to help you plan your project
Bare bricks become a feature in a gentle Victorian flat extension
This used to be a conservatory that was “freezing cold in winter and overheated in summer”, according to the designers at Scenario Architecture. It also blocked light from flowing into the living room behind it.
It’s only really when you look the other way in this extension (which is on a ground-floor flat in a large Victorian villa) that you get an idea of how unusual it is. From this angle, what you see is the emphasis on letting in light – thanks to the bonus windows above the bifold doors, the glass roof, a pale colour scheme and that light-reflecting splashback.
It’s goes the extra mile, for sure, but lots of extensions are all about the glass. Turn around, however, and…
…look at how cleverly the new part of the house respects the original building. In a conservatory-like approach, the original back wall has become a feature. Don’t you just love the Juliet balconies that connect the space to the room behind and let the light flood through?
Browse photos of more extensions on Houzz
A thatched cottage almost ‘untouched’ by a futuristic addition
The ‘glass box’ extension on this Grade II listed thatched cottage in Cheshire takes the idea of respecting the original building to a new level. While an ultra-contemporary glazed, angular add-on to such an old, rustic building may not be to everyone’s taste, what’s lovely about this design is the way the original house keeps its integrity.
The emphasis on glass and lack of unnecessary bulky framing in the design of the extension means the original front of the house is still very much visible.
“It doesn’t interfere with the original property too much,” says Alex Saint of bulthaup by Kitchen Architecture, who designed the extension, “and we didn’t have to alter the cottage a great deal to install it.” Structurally, all that needed to be changed was the opening up of the outside wall that leads into the new extension.
Looking at the extension from inside the original house, you can see how the new and old are further blended by the use of traditional-style flagstone flooring, which bridges the two parts of the building.
From this angle, you can also see that the designer has been careful to preserve an almost uninterrupted view of the building beyond, which is built from the same beautiful, warm-coloured bricks as the original house.
Read all about this extension and see more photos
Nature softens the exterior of this conservation area home
Although this is a defiantly contemporary add-on to a Grade II listed house (in a conservation area made up of late Georgian and early Victorian terraces), it’s a soft and sensitive one.
The designers, Fraher Architects, chose sustainable larch wood planks to clad the exterior, which tie in with the colours in the original brickwork.
They also planted the double-canted roof with wildflowers, which creates a wonderfully pastoral view out of the home’s original first floor window, seen here.
Inside the new ground-floor space, the owners have created a dining area and a peaceful study overlooking the garden.
A lean-to is rebuilt to complement an Edwardian home
Egon Walesch from Egon Walesch Interiors & Flowers and his partner, Richard, had lived in their 1903-built home for 20 years before deciding to renovate the lean-to at the back of the building.
“The brief was about light, and creating a better relationship with the back of the house,” explains architect Louise Sayarer from SASA Works. “We didn’t want the extension to look like this new thing that had been packed onto the building. We were looking for something more holistic.”
The unique shape of the roof was designed to provide texture and movement to the space, while also referencing the building’s original mouldings. “There’s a lot of plasterwork in this style of house, and we wanted the new ceiling to be a modern gesture towards that,” says Sayarer.
The patio is laid with limestone, while the bricks connecting the extension to the house are reclaimed yellow London stock, designed to blend in with the rest of the building.
Read the story of this extension
An extension to a between-the-wars home looks as if it’s always been there
From the inside of this detached 1930s family home in Cambridge, a key feature that stands out is the unusual window formation – a change from the more typical large expanse of uninterrupted glass and bifold doors. This is significant, as it’s a major detail that helps the new part of the house blend in with the original building, as you can see in the next photo.
The new extension houses a sleek and contemporary kitchen-diner, but architect Kieran Hawkins of Mailen Design was keen to put it in context. “We wanted to make a room that respected the feel of an early 20th century English house. The rhythm of the windows and doors, and views of the garden, also helped to define the layout.”
Materials including wood and ceramics were key to the characterful feel of the room. “It’s important to use natural materials that age well wherever possible,” Hawkins adds.
The carefully matched brickwork and the proportions of the windows help to make the new section of the house look as if it were part of the original.
Tour the rest of the extension
A dazzlingly contemporary extension wrapped in a traditional exterior
Choosing brickwork that matches the original so closely makes this extension, designed by FC Architects, almost invisible from the outside. The pitched roof and choice not to extend the full side return also nod to the earlier life of the building.
It all makes the large, light-loving patio doors less of a feature in their own right as they, too, blend in more easily with such a backdrop.
Seen from the inside, however, the extension feels positively futuristic and minimal – giving the owners the best of both worlds.
Huge expanses of glass forming much of the ceiling area, as well as an almost seamlessly connected window at the end of the shorter part of the extension, seen here, give the space a lovely link to the garden – making that the feature, rather than the inspired yet non-visually intrusive architecture.
A giant contemporary window rubs along with tradition
French doors can go a long way to maintaining the ‘old’ feel of a period home. And, as demonstrated in this extension by Paul Archer Design, you don’t have to choose between traditional and contemporary – you can mix the two to great effect.
Again, a very open side return extension has been added, providing more space without introducing a dominant visual statement.
Rather than continue the side return’s expanse of glass across the whole back of the building, with – for example – a strip of bifold doors that would give a very contemporary feel, a huge, single, pivot window has been fitted to this portion only. This makes the window seat below it a particularly pleasant place to sit, as anyone relaxing there will feel connected to the garden whether the window is open or closed.
The lines of the original building remain in the section of wall that helps to form the window seat, while French doors, which complement the architecture of the existing windows, provide access to the patio.
Despite not having a wall-to-wall set of windows, there’s plenty of light, thanks in part to the glass roof over the former side return. Be aware that a feature like this will require regular cleaning to look tip-top.
See more photos of this extension
Have you completed an extension? Share the lessons you learned along the way – and photos – in the Comments section.