25 Beautiful Homes July 2021

Light Fantastic

By creatively working around planning constraints, Rachel and Tom Smith have ended up with a bright and more interesting kitchen-diner

Owners  Rachel and Tom Smith
House  A four-bedroom Victoria terraced house in south London
Work  Extending at the side and rear to create a spacious kitchen-diner while maximising light through to the original house

Feature  Karen Wilson   Photography Liane Ryan

The green spaces of Wimbledon proved a big draw when Rachel and Tom Smith needed more space to expand their family.  ‘We were renting in nearby Earlsfield but found a Victorian terrace opposite a park on a nice, friendly street,’ says Rachel.  ‘Although it had a narrow, dark kitchen, which led to an old conservatory, there was potential to extend.’


With busy jobs, the couple wanted a turnkey service so hired Plus Rooms after reading positive customer reviews.  Director James Bernard drafted plans to demolish the conservatory and extend into the side and rear to create a bright, open-plan kitchen, dining space.  ‘We initially wanted a wrapround extension as the extra width would’ve made a big difference,’ says Rachel.  ‘However the first plans were rejected. ‘


Due to the particuarly narrow side return, the planners wanted this section stepped in rather than running the full 8m depth of the rear extension.  ‘This avoided a tunnelling effect to the neighbour’s adjoining side return,’ explains James. ‘Plus it helps zone the space.’

Glazing was a key component of the design.  ‘As you walk in, you see a floor-to-ceiling windows that’s angled to follow the roof line,’ says James.  ‘We also added three skylights to focus more light into the original part of the house’.

Braverman Kitchens helped the couple design a two-tone grey and white L-shaped kitchen.  ‘We wanted lots of storage so they designed pull-out corner cupboards and larders either side of the fridge,’ says Rachel. 

Open House : The couple have succeeded in creating a bright space that connects to the garden.


Aluminium windows and doors proved a more affordable alternative to steel.  The flooring was the trickiest thing to decide on. ‘We considered traditional wood, but eventually opted for light porcelain tiles to provide a nice neutral backdrop,’ says Rachel. 


While Tom’s style is modern and Rachel prefers a traditional farmhouse look, both agreed the space would suit a more minimalist finish.  ‘As it’s quite neutral, we could add personality by hanging our favourite artwork,’ says Rachel.


Thanks to preliminary soil test and drainage surveys, there were no unexpected problems during the six week build.  However, the findings of a tree survey meant spending more on deeper foundations.  ‘If we did it again we would’ve done a bit more research so that it felt less stressful,’ says Rachel.  ‘But the build was very quick and we managed well living on site’.

The house now works much better with a six-year-old son and a one-year-old daughter.  ‘Before the downstairs always felt small compared to the upstairs,’ says Rachel. ‘So it’s naturally balanced things out.

A Brand New Space

Positioning the kitchen units in the darker right-angled section leaves a thoroughfare as you walk into the room, as well as ample room for the dining area in the sunniest spot by the patio doors.

25 Beautiful Homes July 2021 – Garfield Rd, Wimbledon