Real Homes August 2022

A Side Return extension

Revive and extend an older property by using an often overlooked and underutilised area of your plot – your side return.  

Did you know?  That space at the side of our house – the one that’s currently storing bikes and bins – could hold the secret to transforming the ground floor, giving you ample light and room to create your dream family or party zone. Side-return extensions usually fall under permitted development (PD), and are an impactful way to maximise the floorplan.  Extending out by just one metre could expand a galley kitchen into a kitchen-diner or allow you to create new areas, such as a utility or WC, while reconfiguring the layout for a more open-plan space. 

A side-return extension is the perfect opportunity to incorporate glazed elevations and roof windows to bring more natural light flooding in and make it feel even roomier.  The new addition could also improve your home’s connection to the garden.

Many period properties have benefitted from this type of extension.  Read on to find out how your home can too by expanding into the side return. 


  • Building Regulations – a set of standards that should be adhered to when renovating or building a new property
  • Planning Permission – a request made to the local council to carry out building works on your property or garden
  • Permitted Development – works that can be undertaken on a property or garden without needing planning permission
  • Party Wall – a shared border fence, wall or hedge that separates two adjoining buildings.  Built on the boundary line, it demarcates ownership
  • Conservation Area – an area of land of special architectural or historical important
  • Solar Gain – a temperature increase caused by heat from the sun through glazing

Planning Layout

You may already know where your favourite sofa will sit, the bookshelf installed and the family heirloom placed, but how many of an impact will these have on the positioning of electrics for lighting and pipework for plumbing?  Speak to your designer or builder about whether the island will run parallel to the rear wall or whether the dining table will sit under the rooflights.  All these decisions will ultimately lead to smaller questions – so its best to have a clear idea from the start. 

TOP TIP * Access all Areas

Building to the side of your property can cause access issues during construction, especially one you’ve extended into the side return and closed off entry there.  Consider how you’ll get machinery and materials to the rear.  Could you order everything earlier and store it in the garden before work starts?  Craning items in is an option, but an expensive one – and hauling large items through the property could cause damage if you’ve already had work completely internally.

Modern Finish

The kitchen at the heart of this home didn’t work with the rest of the layout.  Location in the middle of the plan, its L-spade configuration made everyone walk through it and feel on top of each other.

‘The owners were keen to bring a bright feel to the ground floor space and to give it the best chance of being used well,’ says James Bernard, director of Plus Rooms. ‘We put in a glass valley to achieve this, which is a detail that changes the angle on the roof and maximises light into the back reception. They also really wanted to appreciate their garden, because the only had a very limited opportunity to do so with the existing layout. They didn’t want to do it up before the works because they knew that any investment outside would be wasted, so they halted their overhaul until after building finished.

‘The project was scheduled to take eight weeks plus finishing, but construction was completed within seven even though we had some challenges when dealing with the neighbour on party wall matters.  We liaised with them and the clients throughout to share detailed information, explained that we were doing, and, eventually, the works could proceed.  The home’s foundations also needed to be reinforced.  We do a detailed survey prior to work starting, and we found this out early on – which meant this was factored into the budget from the outset.  The owners chose to have a concrete floor, which was not included in the original quote and that increased costs slightly.  Otherwise they were able to enter the build knowing exactly what to expect regarding costs.

‘I’d advise renovators who have a similar set up and are planning on extending, and have a bathroom that sits directly above the kitchen, to wait until after the building work downstairs is complete before renovating it.  There may be shifting during construction, which would be counterproductive, as no-one wants hairline cracks in their newly renovated bathroom.  Although the kitchen is in the same location as before, the new 12-metre square side extension has allowed the ground floor to lose its unpractical format.’

Before you Start – Q&A

  • How long will it take?  Between eight and ten weeks to build
  • How much does it cost?  We’d recommend budgeting from around £1,500 to £1,900 per square metre for a basic quality extension.  Architectural service Resi suggests that the average build cost for a side or rear extension, excluding VAT, could cost from around £67,500 in London, or £55,688 in the rest of the UK.
  • Do I need to get permission?  It’s worth noting that applying for consent can help you get a more creative design – but if you only want something basic, a side return extension usually comes under permitted development as long as:
    – you’re not extending onto designated land;
    – no more than half the land around the original house is covered by additions or other buildings;
    – the exterior finishes are similar to those of the existing house;
    – It isn’t more than half the width of the original house;
    – extensions are no more than six metres beyond the rear wall of the house (eight for a detached);
    – it’s no more than four metres high (or three if it’s within two metres of the boundary);
    – you’re not living in a listed building or Conservation Area.

Period Properties

When renovating and extending an older property, it’s worth deciding whether you want remain sympatric to the existing style and blend the new in or venture away from that aesthetic by adding something distinctive.

This applied to glazing too; bi-fold and sliding doors are contemporary additions that can feel at odds to traditional designs, while Crittall-style aluminium doors tend to look good on Victorian and new-build properties alike. 

If your building is listed or locations in a Conservation Area, you may be limited in the style that you can apply for, so it’s worth speaking to the local council and seeking pre-application advice before you get underway.  There are often compromises to be made, such as losing a chimney in order to move a wall or add more room; you’ll have to weight up what’s important early on to stay on budget and on schedule.

TOP TIP * Roof Design

From contemporary flat roof designs with room for a sustainable green roof to pitched options that replicate an existing roofline and lowers the risk of standing water, providing you’re not in a listed property, your roof options could be quite varied.  Modern options today also include curbed and sawtooth designs that allow light to penetrate deep into the plan.


When it comes to the flooring, think not only how the covering will complement the internal scheme and work with underfloor heating, for instance, but also how it can help create a connection with the exterior space.  If you choose the same material for both areas, make sure you se the non-slip surface suitable for outside.


Project cost – approximately £70,000

Designer – Plus Rooms  0800 917 7127 

Construction time – seven weeks

TOP TIP * Party Walls

More often than not this is a fairly straightforward process of giving your neighbour prior notice of a minimum of two months, to which they have 14 days to ‘assent’ or ‘dissent’. It’s worth speaking to them in advance to explain what works you’re carrying out and how it might affect them. If they agree, you’re fine to go ahead.; if not, you’ll need an impartial party wall surveyor to follow the works, of you can each hire your own.

Clever glazing

An extension is the perfect opportunity to increas the amount of natural light and mazimise the level of brighness entering the ground floor, especially if your addition puts the middle of the house in the dark. Choosing optimal glazing and window placements can effectively transform a gloomy interior space. No matter what your budget is, you can add some form of a rear glazed façade using fixed panes and sets of patio or sliding doors.

If you can’t afford a fully glazed roof to help filter light deeper into the plan, consider fitting a mix of affordable openable and fixed rooflights. Adding clerestory windows could also be an option for top-down light. The glazing doesn’t have to be fancy, but functionality here is essential – make sure you’ve thought about how you’ll ventilate the space and avoid having too much heat loss in the winter or too much passive solar gain in the summer months.

Design Inspiration: Vaulted Ceiling Kitchen Extension Ideas

London homes are usually compact with restricted options for expansion – but a vaulted ceiling can deliver the light and spacious feeling you’re looking for. Here’s some insight from London’s leading bespoke home renovation construction team on why we love vaulted kitchen extensions.

The Benefits of Vaulted Ceilings

Rather than having a flat, level ceiling, a vaulted ceiling follows the shape of a peaked roofline. There are several great advantages of choosing this type of ceiling when you have a pitched roof extension design in mind.

  • Visual impact – Vaulted ceilings take something ordinary and make it extraordinary, drawing your eyes upward into a dramatic architectural space. This makes the space airy and larger looking even if the room itself is quite small.
  • Design feature – This ceiling line creates a chance to add character to your new kitchen space. It grabs attention and becomes a feature of the space, especially when you include beams, large panel glazing, or skylights. And it won’t take up any practical room in your space.
  • Improved natural light – Vaulted ceilings create more surface area for placing glazing, transom windows, and skylights, and the angle helps capture more sunlight through the day. This improves the natural light in your home, lowering energy bills and making the space warm and welcoming.
  • Flexible style – While pitched roofs are generally considered to be more traditional, they are very flexible in terms of matching the overall style of your home and the interior design of your kitchen. For a farmhouse look, for example, they can include reclaimed wooden beams. For an industrial look, steel beams are an attractive feature, and for modernist spaces the clean white lines of a vaulted ceiling add volume while looking chic and minimalist.

Drawbacks of Vaulted Kitchen Ceilings

Of course, no style is without its disadvantages too. Here are some of the drawbacks of these ceilings to help you make an informed decision.

  • More expensive – Due to the structural considerations and materials they need, pitched roofs have greater design and labour costs which will increase the cost of your kitchen extension.
  • Home cleaning – The height these ceilings create can make it a bit more challenging to clean any ceiling beams, change lightbulbs, and repaint your space.

Vaulted Ceiling Kitchen Extensions to Inspire You

Here are just a few of our most inspirational kitchen extension projects that use this attractive and stylish ceiling design.

Vaulted ceiling kitchen extension in Richmond London

Modern Chic in Richmond

This Richmond home’s kitchen extension shows just how modern and minimalist a vaulted ceiling can be. With large skylights and oversized glazing in the apex of the pitched roof, the space is given dramatic volume, plenty of natural light, and a stunning view of the night sky. With its clean lines, it attracts the eye while still offering a low-maintenance design that brings the multi-use space together. 

Vaulted ceiling kitchen extension in Battersea London

Eye-catching Kitchen in Battersea

Vaulted ceilings can easily be combined with flat roof designs to create volume and an attractive design feature. In this Battersea home, vaulting is placed over the entrance and dining area of the kitchen, creating a characterful feature where the ceiling styles meet. This is further enhanced by skylights along the join and on the pitch itself, giving this space plenty of natural light as well as a contemporary feel.

Vaulted ceiling kitchen extension in Southwark Lonodn

Updated Traditions in Southwark

In this traditional terraced Southwark home, the pitched roof seamlessly brings modern living and traditional architecture together. Lined with the same bare brick as the existing building, the designers put a real twist into the finished result by creating a large, glazed area in the apex. This allows light to flood into the space, creating plenty of volume in a smaller kitchen and dining room, and bringing in the sights and sounds of nature.

Starlight Living in Isleworth

Of course, this Isleworth home is flooded with natural lighting during the day thanks to the very large glazing in the apex of the vaulted ceiling, as well as the oversized skylights that run almost its complete length. But this also creates a very special atmosphere at night, bringing in a view of the stars as you cook, entertain, and share meals with loved ones.

Vaulted ceiling kitchen extension in Battersea London

Farmhouse Beauty in Battersea

In this traditional Battersea home, a vaulted ceiling kitchen extension is the perfect fit. The solid gable and traditional exposed brickwork make the extension truly belong to the original building, while the large aluminium sliding doors and skylights ensure the full volume gets sun through the day. This has created a wonderful family space enhanced by industrial lights, exposed internal brick walls, and chic farmhouse cabinetry.

See more kitchen extension ideas here.

Professional, Bespoke Workmanship – The specialists in Vaulted Ceiling Kitchen Extensions in the UK

PlusRooms is a full-service provider for all home extensions, including kitchen extensions with vaulted ceilings in the UK. We’ll work with you through the entire process, from designing your extension and managing planning permission to building the project and ensuring that it is completed to your satisfaction. Contact us today to find out more about our kitchen extensions with vaulted ceilings, and to start the journey towards your dream home.

Design Inspiration: Large Kitchen Extension Ideas

In modern homes, a kitchen is so much more than a space for cooking. It’s where we watch our kids do their homework or play outdoors, it’s where we enjoy our hobbies, and where we entertain friends and loved ones. And when you have the luxury of space to expand your home, a large kitchen extension design delivers all that and so much more.

When it comes to these extensions, maximising space is the ultimate goal – letting kids spread out into the living area, bringing in outdoor living spaces, and creating nooks where you can relax and work at home. And you don’t always have to have a detached home to achieve this. A talented kitchen and extension design team can work with you to redesign the flow of your ground floor, remove outdated conservatories and outbuildings, and make your space open and multifunctional through the latest construction innovations.

Let’s look at a few of our large kitchen extension projects to see how we’ve achieved this for clients in the past – and to inspire you to create a home you can truly grow into.

Large Kitchen Extension in Barnet London

Space for Everything and Everything in its Space in Barnet

Thanks to a wraparound extension, this large kitchen extension in Barnet created the space and storage that every family dreams of. In addition to a new kitchen and dining area complete with a relaxing lounge space, the extension was also able to incorporate a practical cloakroom area, utility space, fridge space, and WC. Convenient and a joy to live in, it’s perfect for a growing family to spread out and enjoy.

Large kitchen extension Forest Hill London

Redesigning for Flow in Forest Hill

Here, this Forest Hill kitchen rear extension involved reimagining the entire ground floor of the terraced home – showing that large kitchen extensions aren’t just for detached properties. By removing the old conservatory, converting the old kitchen into a hallway and utility space, and pushing out into the rear garden, the house is perfectly suited to modern family life. Now with a spacious home office, a kitchen-diner that flows the full length of the back property, and a cosy sitting room, this home has a wonderful new lease on life.

Large kitchen extension in Elmbridge London

An Elegant Space for the Whole Family in Elmbridge

This Elmbridge home kitchen extension is one of the biggest projects we’ve designed and delivered, creating a 13m wide by 6.3m deep flat roof extension with several sets of floor-to-ceiling sliding doors to open out into the garden and outdoor entertaining space. This detached home realised its full potential through this large kitchen extension that contains a bespoke kitchen with an island dining space, a full-size lounge with an entertainment system, and an elegant and secluded formal dining space set against the garden backdrop. Here, every member of the family can relax, play, and entertain together.

Large kitchen extension in Lambeth London

Multiuse Magic in Lambeth

In this large kitchen extension in Lambeth, you can see how an extension to the hub of the home creates space for different areas of your life. Although it is open plan, the rear extension of this detached home is clearly zoned to designate spaces for different activities while staying a part of a single space. With areas that can be used as a home office, sitting area, dining area, or cooking, everyone has the space to do what they want, when they want. And the best thing about it is that the big sliding doors allow every zone to flow out into the garden space and get plenty of light.

Large kitchen extension in Elmbridge London

Space, Space, and More Space in Elmbridge

If there’s one thing that London homeowners will agree on, it’s that you can’t have enough space. This Elmbridge kitchen extension shows how creating a 4.86m by 12m full-width ground floor can transform a house into a dream home. This large kitchen extension allowed the ground floor to be redesigned entirely, creating space that a family can grow into with ease. The large kitchen is brimming with storage and the elegant island creates a family-friendly casual dining area. This complements the roomy formal dining space that opens out into the garden thanks to ultra-wide sliding doors that run the length of the rear extension. 

See more kitchen extension ideas here.

Let London’s Kitchen Design and Construction Specialists Create Your Dream Home

Tastefully extending a home is no easy task, and it requires plenty of inspiration and knowledge from your construction and design team. That’s where we will lead you through the process from start to finish, helping you get the best floorplan, features, and quality for your budget. Whether you want a home for entertaining, for family living, or for your own enjoyment and investment purposes, we’re here to make that dream come true. In over 17 years we’ve helped over 1,400 homeowners transform their houses through small and large kitchen extension designs – contact us to see what we can do for you.