A clever renovation has boosted natural light and space in this Victorian family home
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The owners of this London property wanted to make the most of their newly landscaped garden, so they called in architect Daniel Rees of Rees + Lee Architects to create an open living area that connected the house with the space outside. By reconfiguring the ground floor and designing a neat extension, Rees has created a light-filled home where the family can merge indoor and outdoor living.
Kitchen at a Glance
Who lives here A couple and their two children
Location Wandsworth, London
Size A 3.5m kitchen extension, part of a Victorian terraced house
Architect Daniel Rees of Rees + Lee Architects
“Our main aim was to create a feeling of openness out to the garden,” says architect Daniel Rees. “The original space featured a step down to the patio, with another step that led up to a raised lawn.”
The owners had landscaped the garden to create a completely flat exterior, so Rees reconfigured the house to fit in with this. “We lowered the floor of the original kitchen area and extension and installed a step from the living room and hall.” The level surface between the new kitchen-diner and the patio makes it easier to move between the two zones.
The kitchen’s simple layout is dominated by the central island, which is positioned between the hall and living room doors. “We wanted to keep the kitchen area connected to the rest of property, so we put the island here to create an unhindered view from the front of the house,” Rees explains. A walkway leads from the living room to the garden, and the open view from the front door makes the kitchen feel airy and bright.
The island houses a double farmhouse sink, which sits between an integrated dishwasher and a wine fridge. Opposite is a large cabinet, conveniently located for moving glassware and crockery to and from the island.
“The protruding column behind it could have been a problem,” says Rees, “but we altered the cabinet to fit around it.” The designer explains that this is a cost-efficient alternative to removing the column and fitting steel behind the wall.
“We often try to integrate awkward features into the cabinetry, so they become part of the design,” he adds. “And you can see that we’ve done something similar with the unit on the opposite wall.”
Silver tumbled travertine floor tiles, Floors of Stone. Units painted in Purbeck Stone; island painted in Mole’s Breath, both Farrow & Ball. Pendant lights, John Lewis. Dishwasher, Smeg.
Previously, the kitchen finished where the exposed brick wall starts now. The bifold doors and roof lights have completely transformed the space.
The cooking area is zoned with a simple splashback of white metro tiles. Next to this, a tall unit integrates an American fridge-freezer. “We decided against wall units, as they could have made the room feel crammed,” says the designer.
To create more space on the worktop, Rees pulled it out by 150mm. The usual 600mm depth has become a generous 750mm, which offers enough room to even fit plant pots behind the hob.
Spotlights on the ceiling give plenty of illumination for cooking, while pendants provide ambient light for evening dining.
Metro wall tiles, Topps Tiles. Cooker and extractor fan, Rangemaster. Kitchen stools, John Lewis.
The clients wanted to bring in as much natural light as possible, so skylights were a necessary addition. Rather than install one large roof light, Rees suggested two smaller ones. “We realised that a large skylight would have allowed neighbours to see in. The two placed here cut down the angle of vision,” he explains. “Also, it’s a more budget-friendly option, as these are a standard size. A larger, bespoke version would have been more expensive.”
Behind the TV wall at the far end, an under-stairs cupboard has been converted into a utility cupboard, with a washing machine and tumble dryer inside. The sound of laundry spinning is blocked out by a seal around the door and acoustic insulation.
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The bright white walls are offset by an area of exposed brick. “The clients wanted to add an earthy texture to match the floor tiles,” says Rees. “The brick wall really warms up the space and is large enough to work as a backdrop for the painting.”
The bespoke bifold doors are taller than usual and create a lovely big opening onto the garden. The floor tiles have been carried through to the patio and enhance the connection between inside and outside.
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