Kitchen extension step by step

Our long narrow kitchen was cold and dark – not a place you’d really want to spend time in…

We longed for a bright, warm functional, social space where we could hang out and entertain friends so we started planning a kitchen extension into our side return.

At some time in the 1950s or 60s a previous owner had extended the original kitchen by about 10ft – the new space had then been refurbished in the 80s. It was a single skin construction that did’t conform to modern insulation standards and the small rotting windows were thin and drafty.

Half-glazed double doors to the garden offered a glimmer of light on bright days but the orange 80s varnish that covered the wood sapped the light as it came in!

The project took about five months to complete and I can’t lie it was hugely disruptive. We had to relocate a mini kitchen to our lounge. We bought a 2-ring camp cooker and our builders kindly plumbed in a sink and washing machine.

Essentially the rear of the house was completely open to the elements save for the tarpaulin so it was also freezing cold. Luckily as we had completed our loft conversion the previously year we were able to decamp to the relatively warm and chaos free loft floor.

Top 10 tips for planning kitchen extensions

  1. If you can achieve what you want within permitted development this will be quicker, cheaper and less stressful than applying for planning permission. In the last few years the permitted development laws have been extended to allow extensions of up to 6 metres from the original back wall of terraced houses.
  2. If you have a Victorian property and you are extending outwards and sideways be aware this might mean you are building on top of an existing sewer. If this is the case you’ll need to get permission from your water authority to divert the sewer and create an access point somewhere else outside your property. This will also add up to £1500 to the cost of the work
  3. If you are putting in an expanse of glass that looks out onto your garden then think about making sure what you’re looking out at looks nice. This might mean spending some extra cash remodelling your garden, putting in decking etc. but it’s well worth the extra spend to really enjoy the space you are creating inside and out.
  4. Consider that the the cost of levelling your floors may not be included in the core build costs. We hadn’t budgeted for this extra cost but it’s an essential before you can put down your choice of floor covering
  5. Download the brilliant Ikea kitchen planning tool – even if you don’t plan to buy a kitchen from them! It allowed us to plan the space in many different configurations before we finally decided which one to go with in buying our fitted kitchen. We took advantage of a time-limited offer to get a good discount on kitchen we wanted – the only problem was since we didn’t actually have any walls to the building at the time we couldn’t use professional planners! We measured as best we could and when the time came to fit it – it pretty much worked out.
  6. Mix your surfaces – it doesn’t all need to be matchy matchy! We chose stainless steel, wood, concrete and melamine to add a bit of interest. The oak worktop in a butchers block style was sourced from a timber yard in Sheffield – it too four builders to lift it into place!
  7. If you are extending into the side return think about what you want to do with the opening from the kitchen into the room it now adjoins – in our case this was the lounge and we since didn’t want to be irritated by the sound of the washing machine on a spin cycle in the kitchen we opted to add double doors between the lounge and kitchen. I sourced these original Victorian parlour doors from a flat renovation in Clapham – they are 8ft tall which also adds a bit of grandeur to the entrance!
  8. Consider the magic triangle  when configuring your units and appliances – your fridge, cooker and sink should all be within easy reach to make cooking easy!
  9. Think about where the mess goes. If you are having your sink situated in a central island don’t forget your dirty dishes could be on show ruining the lovely sleek effect you’re trying to achieve. We opted for a double sink so we can hide dirty plates and still have one sink free to use. Of course we could also just be a bit more committed to putting things in the dishwasher!
  10. Beware the sun – if you are planning to have a wall mounted TV and you have roof lights take note of the direction of the sun you don’t want it to be constantly shining on the surface of the screen and making it impossible to see what’s on the telly. We also discovered having dark coloured sofas was a no-no as they got bleached by the sun within a few months. We’ve now gone for a light grey which works well.

We chose three materials for our kitchen surfaces: metal, wood and concrete. We mixed these to create a bit of interest in the room. It’s a really bright room so we chanced painting one of the walls an inky grey black colour to add a bit of intensity which works well.

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