Modern kitchen extensions - our pick of the best
Creating a contemporary living, dining and entertaining space
Adding an extension will turn a cramped kitchen into an family-friendly and sociable space
A must-have in new properties and one of the top remodelling projects in period homes, the generous open-plan kitchen is now the epicentre for modern living. The main benefits of taking steps to boost space: ‘First, your kitchen will become a more sociable space include, improving light-levels, traffic flow and overall comfort so that cooking is more pleasurable. And if done well, you should an increase in your property’s value.
There are several ways to scale-up space, from combining adjoining rooms or adding a conservatory to building a completely new room or digging out the basement. Be under no illusions — all options require time and money but, once the dust has settled, it’s a decision few regret.
A single-storey rear extension is often the most planning permission-friendly extension project, and can often be achieved under permitted development. Do keep in mind
the balance between house and garden, as swallowing up too much garden can reduce
a property’s value. A simple side extension is also planner-friendly and can widen a narrow kitchen without stealing precious outdoor space. Side-returns are a common choice for terraced properties, which often have a half-width kitchen tacked onto the rear.
All extensions involve significant upheaval so be prepared to live with the builders for at least six weeks, and possibly move your family out. You’ll also require substantial funds, with a generous contingency to keep things stress free.
Conservatory extensions are particularly popular in properties that are north-facing
or generally dark inside. They can also be the best way to maximise a great view. Although conservatories often come under your permitted development rights and don’t require planning permission, if they are open to the main house (ie, not self-contained, with a lockable door) building regulations do apply.
The main downside to locating a kitchen inside a conservatory revolves around heat loss/gain. Solar control glass, underfloor heating and automatic ventilation can all be used to ensure a comfortable year-round environment. So much glazing can also limit a kitchen layout and design, as there are fewer solid walls to support cabinetry. An island-based layout is often most practical, but it’s often wiser to position the hub of your kitchen in the house and add an open-plan conservatory for dining and relaxing. Orangeries are a more practical solution for kitchens, as they have solid walls topped with a glazed roof — be that a flat roof or sky lantern — and subsequently have a more controlled level of natural light than conservatories.
As well as using glare-reducing glass and installing blinds, it pays to select paler surfaces that won’t show the effects of sun-bleaching as noticeably. Using UV-protective varnishes on woods and light paint finishes on stable materials will significantly minimise sun damage.
Building a basement kitchen is significantly more expensive than extending outwards. Converting an existing basement will be cheaper. This type of extension is popular where outdoor space is often limited, but it also works if you want to preserve the proportions of a building or retain all of the garden. It’s wise to use a specialist basement firm (try The British Structural Waterproofing Association, thebswa.plus.com, for accredited contractors).
A basement conversion for kitchen use is also hugely reliant on the available light levels. Incorporating a skylight above the stairs to form a light well and creating space for a small courtyard with glass double doors leading into the kichen are both smart solutions.
Decoration is often led by the architectural style of the addition; if you’ve opted for a sleek glass box, finish it with a slick, contemporary kitchen. In really large rooms with double-height or pitched ceilings, it’s also important to scale your furniture accordingly — standard-sized pieces might look a little lost.
Other things to think about when planning a modern multifunctional scheme include noise transference. So that others aren’t disturbed when the kitchen is in full use, choose whisper-quiet appliances and add soft fabrics and materials to help reduce echoes. Also, opt for powerful extraction, and zone the lighting on several circuits so it can be adjusted in each area and to suit different moods.
The modern kitchen above is designed like a production line, no awkward angles or inefficient corner cupboards, just practical ideas such as a simple worksurface that can be wiped from one end all the way down.
Photograph by James Merrell