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A Beginner’s Guide to Kitchen Extensions

Add-ons giving larger, more open kitchen spaces with loads of light and great garden views are transforming homes

Houzz Contributor and founder of Architect Your Home – Interior Your Home, a country-wide… More

Where once kitchens were small spaces to be concealed, people now love to have large, open cookspaces that form an important part of living. Extending a home to create that big, airy space is increasingly popular – and it’s a great way to add value, too. Here’s what you need to consider before you start making plans.

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Make it more than just a kitchen
While we talk about ‘kitchen extensions’ it is rare that such extensions are boxes bolted on to the back of a house simply to fill with kitchen. The majority of such works are undertaken to open up and extend existing rooms and create larger, more open combined spaces that contain kitchen, dining, living and even home-working areas.

The key to success for such projects often rests on how effectively the existing part of the house – as much the extended part – can be opened up internally, as well as to the outside space.

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Bring in the daylight
When extending a house to the rear, particularly a terrace house, the danger is that the middle part of it can then become isolated from the outside, meaning it could become dark and gloomy as it’s farther from daylight.

Plenty of glazing on the rear extension will help and, in general, the higher up that glazing can reach the better. This is because with ‘tall’ glazing, the more intense daylight that comes from a higher angle can reach deeper into the house.

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Consider going for a contrast
To create the open, light-filled, spacious kitchen/dining space that you dream of, simply extending in a matching style to your existing house might not lend itself to your vision.

Although by no means to everyone’s taste, one option you might consider is a contrasting architectural style, such as here, where a traditional thatched cottage has a contemporary glass-box extension. There’s certainly no mistaking what is original from what is extension in this project.

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Create a ‘no kitchen’ extension
Frequently, a kitchen extension may not have any kitchen in the extended part at all. In this example, the add-on has opened up and enlarged the existing space, and has been used as a new dining area so that the kitchen can make use of the whole width of what was the rear of the original house.

It’s worth noting how the older part of the house is enhanced not only by fully glazed doors across the rear of the extension, but also by roof windows that allow for good ventilation and flood daylight into the kitchen, too.

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Choose a magic slot
This example also keeps the kitchen just outside of the extension, which again has been used for the dining table. But where three simple roof windows were used in the previous example, here a ‘slot’ roof light creates a swathe of daylight over the kitchen and lifts the whole effect.

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Court your exterior space
Here’s another beautifully detailed example of tall glazing across the rear, which allows in light from a high angle. But there’s another clever feature. The extension is actually connected to the house with a glazed roof, and in one corner of the extension a mini courtyard between the house and add-on has been created.

Devices like this can be very effective in ensuring not only that original rooms retain the windows and daylight they had before, but also in creating a sense of bringing the outside in.

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Be dynamic…
By using exposed brick and full-height bifold doors, this essentially simple extension to a terrace house also brings the outside space in.

However the project – which is in basic terms a simple box – cleverly defies its simplicity with a really funky ceiling-scape that’s full of exciting changes of slope and angle and interesting triangular roof lights. It all equates to a dynamic space.

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…or classic
If the contemporary or minimalist look is not your thing, an open kitchen/dining space with lots of glazing can be equally effective designed in a more classic style. Here, steel-framed French windows, classic pendants, Shaker-influenced kitchen units and a range cooker give a very different and distinct flavour.

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Let a lantern be your light
Another option for those leaning towards a more classic style is to have a large roof lantern. People who want to avoid too much modernity often recoil at the idea of a flat roof despite the cost savings (flat roofs are almost always cheaper, though glazing makes both flat and pitched roofs more expensive). However, a flat roof can be concealed behind a parapet wall and also have a huge opening for a roof lantern (either a pitched or a flat one), and this arrangement is an entirely different matter: daylight will pour in, even if the rest of the extension is not heavily glazed.

The other big benefit of a roof lantern is that it can become something of a centrepiece, particularly if stationed above a table or island.

Find architects and building designers in your area

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Go with the flow
The key to getting the layout of your kitchen extension right is all about circulation and flow. A golden rule I generally try to apply is that the main route from the house to the garden should not go through the working space of the kitchen.

This lovely simple example shows how a kitchen island has been positioned to keep the working area of the kitchen well-defined and the route in and out clearly separated. Kitchen islands are hugely popular and feature in every example here. However what’s key to remember is that their success is as much about defining zones within an open space as it is about creating more kitchen worktop space.

Do you have any words of wisdom about kitchen extensions to share? Do so in the Comments below (and show off those photos if you love yours).

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