Self Build & Design Apr 2019

Bi-fold door alternatives

James Bernard is director of Plus Rooms, a design and build company that has completed over 1,000 extension projects.

Bifold doors have long been the go-to choice for homeowners looking to maximise light and provide access to their garden.? But they might not always be the best option for small gardens. James Bernard suggests some alternatives.

Sliding Doors

Sliding doors are perfect for maximising the connection with outside spaces.? The simple mechanism allows for bigger door panels and thinner frames, so there is less obstruction than with bifold doors.? This is quite important in Britain as the doors will remain closed for most of the year.? They are ideal for smaller gardens as furniture can be left outside right up to the back wall – even with the doors open.? Hidden pocket versions are also starting to emerge which allow the sliding doors to be set into the wall to create a complete open wall.

Crittall-style doors

Crittal-style doors are perfect for those looking to bring an urban feel to their extension, and work really well with the current trend for all things industrial.? The sturdy frames are still relatively slim, resulting in plenty of light, and a seamless combination of doors and windows can be created in a rear wall to provide access to the garden.? They look particularly good when angles or rectangular.

Picture windows

Picture windows are usually larger than conventional types and bring more light into the room.? Often paired with separate large single doors, they frame views really well, but still allow furniture to be placed up against the wall.? As they have no opening mechanism, they are usually less costly than traditional windows and provide better insulation – ideal for keeping energy bills down.? The windows are also easier to maintain, thank to their simple frames, without the parts and nooks of other types of windows.

Projected glazing

Bifold doors can be used in combination with other glazed features, such as a project structural window seat.? The projects space brings more light into the house and can be used all year round.? The resulting smaller bifolds also take less effort to open and don’t take up as much space in the outside area, making it an ideal compromise for mid-sized gardens.

Ideal Home Mar 2019

We turned our bungalow into a family home

The Heys supersized a small bungalow by extending it upwards and outwards to gain the space they needed

FEATURE Debbie Jeffrey   PHOTOGRAPHS Fine House   DESIGN Plus Rooms

Jono and Maria Hey bough a two bedroom semi-detached bungalow in 2015 with the aim of increasing the living space to accommodate their young sons. They create two new bedrooms and a bathroom on the first floor as well as adding a side extension.

Spotting Potential

“We’d been renting a flat in Twickenham but wanted to find an affordable family house with a garden’, says Jono. “We saw a bungalow for sale in the next street. All the rooms were on the ground floor, but it had a large loft and a wide plot with huge potential.

Clever design

“We were looking for an all-in-one design and build service. We chose to work with Plus Rooms”, explains Jono. “They built a large dormer and installed a staircase, which is illuminated by a window over the landing. Demolishing the garage and building a side extension gave us the open plan space we wanted.

A hip-to-gable loft conversion adds a storey, matching the next door neighbour’s property (before shot below)

Eighteen-week Makeover

“It was a huge project but it’s the home we wanted with a transformed rear garden. It’s unrecognisable from the original bungalow and we now have all the space we need”.

Welcome to our home -Jono and Maria Hey live here with their two sons, Lewis, six, and Thomas, four.

The Property – A four-bedroom Fifties semi in Twickenham

The Value – Bought for £665,000 in 2015 and now worth more than £950.000

What is Cost
Building work and materials £156,000
Kitchen £16,000
Doors and windows £21,600
Bathroom £4,400
TOTAL £198,000

“It’s ideal for a young family now. Adding so much space and light has given this old house a new lease of life”.

‘The aluminium bifold doors and 3m skylight bring in masses of natural light,’ says Jono

French doors with a Juliet balcony were installed in the new first-floor guest bedroom

What we’ve learned
‘We had to zone different areas in the big, open-plan kitchen-diner with furniture. The island and our colourful IKEA storage bench divide the space and make it feel homely’

5 things you need to know about…


James Bernard, direct of Plus Rooms has the lowdown…

  1. They might require permission
    Most balconies or platforms higher than 300mm need it, but Juliet balconies are allowed under permitted development.
  2. Positioning is crucial
    A balcony doesn’t need to be south facing – it’s possible to build onto the east or even the north to enjoy the view. Be aware that a new balcony shouldn’t cut off light from the floor below.
  3. Size can vary
    Some balconies may be just large enough for a single chair, others might extend around a building – size is usually only restricted by supports.
  4. They can be hung or supported
    Cantilevered, steel-framed balconies jut out with no visible support, hung balconies use wall-fixed cables, stacked balconies stand on supporting vertical posts.
  5. Privacy is an issue
    Glass is the obvious choice for balcony balustrades, to avoid obstructing the view or cutting out light, but if the new balcony overlooks a neighbour, you may be required to add a privacy screen.

KBB Mar 2019

How to: expert advice for tackling tricky spaces in your kitchen redesign

Whatever the shape or size, here’s how to incorporate it into your cook-space transformation

James Bernard, director of Plus Rooms, a London-based design and build company which has completed over 1,000 extensions, shares his expert tips

1. When it comes to making major changes to their home, I usually recommend homeowners ask themselves three questions
– How would the current space be impacted?
– How will the changes affect the character of the house?
– Will making this change cause further problems elsewhere?

2. Designing a new space is a holistic approach – and light is the key consideration. You need to be particularly careful not to crowd your space; as you enter any area flow is the most important thing.

3. Most homeowners love to be able to look outside, so when you redesign your space try to place your living room and dining areas where you can have the best possible views.

Windows and doors that allow the most natural light into your home are particularly key to this as they help create a comfortable and enjoyable atmosphere in every room in the house.  You should also aim to move the living elements closer to a back space – typically towards the garden. This will help your space retain a smooth traffic flow and will keep the garden view unobstructed.

4. If you?re dealing with a larger space, partitioning off parts of the room can allow it to become more squared off and zoned for a particular purpose such as cooking, eating and relaxing. By doing so, you will also be able to design the new space appropriately and use the darker central areas for more utilitarian purposes such as cloakrooms and utility rooms. This particular project which we worked on, for example, originally featured a long narrow kitchen and a separate dining room – each with its own entrance off the hallway, which meant neither rooms had a squared off footage.

As part of the redesigning works, we opened up the room and extended into the side so that there was a larger, staggered space. This is when it is particularly important to keep the traffic flow in mind: our client wanted to add a utility and toilet to their home so we divided up the large space to square off the ground floor and create a WC and utility in the darker area of the ground floor. Our client could still access that new space from the hallway, and make the most of the light in the living areas.

5. It?s important to try – whenever you can – to avoid dragging traffic across wide, open areas, and to aim to keep it zoned. In this home for example, blocking access to the kitchen from the hallway would have been misguided as residents would have had to walk through the living room.

For a successful redesign you ideally want the traffic flow to remain as natural and practical as possible, because that is how your new space will work best in its own right.

Photography  Fine House Photography