The client was a growing family of five who loved their home but needed more space. With a small garden, they had limited scope for a massive extension. Their priority was a kitchen with room for an island and a dining table that could seat up to 10 for entertaining. However, as there would be only five people using the kitchen during the week, they were concerned about the table taking up unnecessary space.
ABL3 Architects came up with a concept that met both needs. They designed a kitchen island with an integrated dining table that pulls out. During the week, the five family members use the island, while at weekends the table comes out for entertaining.
The dining table wasn’t the only challenge that the ABL3 team faced. Due to the way that water comes down from the property’s roof, the team had to pull structure away from it, essentially delivering a wraparound extension and meaning there was exposed steel at the end of the kitchen run, as well as an area with a dropped ceiling. Keen to maximise every inch of space, the team worked within these parameters to turn the end of the kitchen into a reading nook, with a corner window and a bench seat. ABL3 painted the exposed steel pink and made a feature of it, adding a hidden bookshelf beside it at the end of the reading snug.
The reading area provided the family with an additional space to enjoy but without eating into any more garden space, while also working with the practicalities of collecting the water on the roof. Outside, meanwhile, the team included a full-length storage run with a bench seat.
There’s a further bench seat within the kitchen, providing plentiful storage and creating yet another area for the young children to enjoy while their parents keep an eye on them while preparing meals. The kitchen bench was designed in the shape of a giant clothes peg. This lovely bespoke feature evolved out of a solid block of timber that the client was able to source from their family business – a builders’ merchant.
With a fairly tight budget for the project, the family business came in handy in numerous ways. Offcuts and bits of unwanted wood were transformed into features, while doors were upcycled. There was an emphasis on not wasting wood. Inside the larder door, for example, the timber that was left over from the cut-out for hob was used to carry on the worktop within the larder.
Budgetary constraints also inspired some creative thinking about the window at the end of the kitchen. The client wanted a window that would open. However, glass is expensive, and moveable glass even more so. As such, the ABL3 team came up with the idea to flip the window around. They built a zigzag window with timber cladding and a cat flap, structured so that the timber is the part that opens – a far more cost-effective and imaginative way of meeting the client’s brief.
Tamsin Bryant, Architect, ABL3, recalls:
“This was such a personal project, as the extension was built entirely around the family’s lifestyle. The budget inspired us to think creatively about design and materials, ensuring we delivered value at every turn, while creating a really special series of spaces with outstanding attention to detail.”
To maximise light in the kitchen, the ABL3 team created long slots in the roof to draw light into the space. The back of the house was previously very dark, so this transformed the feel of the space into something light and airy, which the client very much appreciated.
What to do with the middle room at Second Avenue was the other major challenge, as the room would lose light due to the extension. After careful consideration, ABL3 Architects turned half of the space into a utility room and used the other half to add a bar, desk area and storage to the existing living room, via a built-in joinery unit. The design made sense of the darker part of the room, giving it character and functionality, rather than simply creating a dim corridor! The whole family can now use the space without feeling on top of each other. It’s not quite open plan – it’s flexible living, with spaces that double up for different purposes.
Planning for the Second Avenue extension was originally granted on 9 December 2019. However, the land had knotweed, which had to be cleared completely before any work could proceed. This meant that work on site started on 23 March 2020 – the day the UK government announced the first national Covid-19 lockdown.
The lockdown created plenty of disruption and delays, with the steel and glass windows taking longer to arrive and the schedule slipping when the electrician and others had Covid. The ABL3 team flexed around the issues, ordering materials as far in advance as possible and juggling workflows, so that the project was finished in September 2020, six months after work began.
Architect: ABL3 Architects