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Indoor-Outdoor Living Design Ideas

When the weather is beautiful, it’s natural to want to take activities like dining, lounging, and even cooking outside into the garden. And that’s exactly why indoor-outdoor living spaces have become a huge home design trend in recent years. Here, we’ll look at the benefits of indoor-outdoor living and how to bring this into your home’s design.

The Benefits of Indoor-Outdoor Living Spaces

So, why do homeowners around the UK and the world love indoor-outdoor spaces so much?

More natural light – By using large-scale glazed sliding doors or glazed folding doors, you bring much more natural sunlight into your space than using windows – even when these doors are closed. In this East Dulwich home, the kitchen, dining and entertainment space is flooded with natural light from the glazed bifold doors.

Indoor-outdoor living space in East Dulwich London

Easier entertaining – You can quickly and simply expand your entertaining space with an indoor-outdoor lounge or dining area, often doubling the floor space if you have a good-sized patio. This is especially effective if you have a deck or outdoor flooring that is level with your indoor space, creating the perfect flow. You can host more guests, have more breathing and seating space, and keep the conversation and music flowing. In this Saint John’s project, you can see how the lounge and entertaining area is made considerably bigger by opening up two sides of the extension.

Indoor-outdoor living space in Saint John's London

More living space – Space is a premium in homes, and adding an indoor-outdoor space instantly increases usable square meterage in your home. You can all be together without being under each other’s feet, enjoying different activities in your own space. This is especially useful if you have children playing outdoors while you cook or catch up on a good book. You can see this in action in our Kew home extension project, where indoor-outdoor living has created a space for the whole family.

Indoor-outdoor living space in Kew London

Stay in touch with nature – Nature is beneficial to our mental and physical well-being, and these spaces bring nature indoors so you can enjoy it more. From soft breezes and natural sunlight to better views of your garden, your home and lifestyle are enhanced with nature’s touches. In this Stoke Newington home, the kitchen and dining space are effortlessly linked to the garden, with the trees and natural beauty becoming an integral part of daily life.

Indoor-outdoor living space in Stoke Newington London

Increased property value – Because it’s such a significant housing design trend, indoor-outdoor living spaces are high on the must-have list for home buyers. With more living and entertaining space, your home naturally increases in value. In this East Dulwich project, you can see how much more usable space is achieved in this compact terrace home, which buyers are going to love.

Indoor-outdoor kitchen extension in East Dulwich.

Which Indoor-Outdoor Living Space Ideas Are Best for You?

Indoor-outdoor living spaces can be as simple or creative as you want, making them a very versatile addition to your home. Here are some ideas to see what would suit your lifestyle and property.

Indoor-outdoor entertainment space – If you love having friends and family over, then this is a great choice. A wide patio for an outside seating or dining area, good lighting and even a sound and TV system can create the entertainment space of your dreams. This Clapham home extension shows just how exciting an outdoor entertainment space can be.

Indoor-outdoor living space in Clapham London

Indoor-outdoor kitchen – This has become a big trend in the USA, and it’s catching on in the UK even though our weather isn’t quite as cooperative. An outdoor kitchen can be a simple patio with a built-in barbeque or a full bar and kitchen space with seating, lighting, and sound system. If you want to cook outdoors more often, a patio roof will give you all the shelter you need. In this East Dulwich home, a simple indoor-outdoor kitchen and seating area make for the perfect place to spend a summer day.

Indoor-outdoor kitchen in East Dulwich

Indoor-outdoor lounge and relaxation space – Reading a good book or relaxing with friends is even better when you’re outdoors. We recommend a covered patio to make it useful through the seasons, complete with a fire pit or heating, comfortable seating, side tables, plants, and even a small bar. This Crawthew Grove home extension creates a space filled with nature and designed for relaxation, with outdoor soft furnishings and a cosy atmosphere.

Indoor-outdoor lounge and relaxation space in Crawthew Grove London.

Essential Design Features for Your Indoor-Outdoor Area

When designing your indoor-outdoor living area, every project should be bespoke – but there are some critical ground rules to follow.

  • Level indoor to outdoor flooring – That all-important seamless flow is achieved by having your indoor and outdoor flooring at the same level, instantly making the separate spaces into one. It also avoids any tripping hazards. While these floors don’t have to be the same material, the design is further enhanced if they do match.
  • Go big with openings – Windows and small sliding doors just won’t deliver the full benefits of an indoor-outdoor space. You want the spaces to feel connected, so it’s important to have wide, floor-to-ceiling openings onto your outdoor space. Bifold doors give the most expansive result, but large-scale sliding doors and multiple French doors can deliver a similar effect.
  • Connect your décor – Consistency with your interior and exterior design will also help bring the spaces together. If you have a modern, minimalist interior bring the same colours, styles, and materials into your outdoor living area. Similarly, if you have a more boho or country chic look, you can bring this into your outdoor space with furnishings, flooring, and patterns.

See more house extension ideas here.

Design and Create Your Indoor-Outdoor Living Space with UK Design and Build Specialists

Plus Rooms is a full-service provider for all types of home extensions in the greater London area, including loft, kitchen, and dining room extensions. We’ll work with you through the entire process, from designing your extension and managing planning permission to building the project and making sure the extension is completed to your satisfaction. Contact us today and start the journey towards indoor-outdoor living.

Do You Need an Architect for an Extension?

When you’re considering a home renovation, the first question you might ask yourself is “Do I need an architect?”. The simple answer is not always! In this article, we’ll dive into when an architect is needed, as well as alternatives for your construction project.

Do I Need an Architect?

No! In fact, it’s not a legal requirement to hire an architect or get architect drawings in the UK for projects of any scale, from small extensions to large builds. Sometimes, homeowners prefer to hire an architect if their extension project is very specialised, very extensive, or unusual. But this can be very expensive and not always worth it if you have a look at the alternatives, which include a design and build company.

Will I Need Planning Permission for Extension Work?

This depends on the scope of your project and several other factors. In general, you will only need building planning permission if the project falls outside these limitations:

  • The size of the extension is more than half the area of land around the “original house”. This includes the time since the property was originally built, so be sure to include later extensions.
  • If the finished extension is nearer the public highway either by way of front elevation or side. 
  • The extension is higher than the highest part of the roof. 
  • If your single-storey rear extension will extend beyond the rear wall of the original house by more than 3m (semi-detached house) or by 4m (detached house).
  • If the maximum height of a single-storey rear extension is higher than 4m.
  • If it will extend beyond the rear wall of the original house by more than 3m.
  • If the eaves and ridge height of your extension are higher than the existing house.
  • If the side extension is a double storey or above 4m in height or has a width more than half that of the original house.
  • If your two-storey extension is closer than 7m to the rear boundary. 
  • If the materials used for the extension are different in appearance from the existing house. 

The good news is that if you do need planning permission, you still don’t need an architect, as your design and build company can manage the planning process for you.

Can I Go Straight to The Builder?

Please don’t – this is the number one reason for nightmare extension projects! Even if you have a great builder, their talent is in construction – not in planning permission or design. Building an extension takes vision, aesthetics, and a lot of money, and while builders are a part of this, we’d stake our reputation on it that there’s no extension that hasn’t significantly benefitted from having a design team work with your builder.

Using a Design and Build Company for Your Extension

A design and build company offer the best of both options – a talented design team and a reputable builder and contractors to deliver your home extension. It’s more affordable than hiring an architect or getting drawings from an architect, and you have one team to manage every aspect of your project rather than juggling an architect, builder, and multiple subcontractors. It’s also faster because we project manage your build, making sure the right people are on-site at the right time, with no delays caused by contractors having to be on other sites. As a design and build company, we can handle every aspect of the project from the initial designs and any necessary planning permission through to the building process and when we hand over the completed extension.

When to Consider Using an Architect During the Planning Stage

Of course, you are always welcome to use an architect during the planning stage, although a design team can accomplish the same tasks. Having an architect is more expensive and it can be challenging to find a firm willing to take on smaller projects like extensions, but their expertise can be useful for very intensive or complex designs. The planning phase can involve multiple designs for your extension and the schematic designs can be very useful for high-concept spaces where innovative design features or materials are included.

Read more about building regulations in the UK.

If you want the same quality and design focus as an architect-driven build combined with greater affordability and a faster timeline to completion, it’s time to give the Plus Rooms team a call. We are an experienced, full-service design and construction business, handling every aspect of your construction projects and with an exceptional track record of completing over 1,400 projects in homes throughout London to world-class standards. In addition to handling small home extensions and kitchen extensions, we also specialise in single storey, double storey, and loft extensions. 

Using a Design and Build Company vs an Architect for Your Extension

Building an extension to your home is a great way to enhance the value of your home and make it bespoke for your lifestyle. But when it comes to getting the best results from your project, you’ll need to ensure a high level of quality throughout the process. The two main options for achieving this is using an architect or a top design and build company. Here’s a breakdown of the pros and cons for each option to help you decide who’s right for your home extension.

What is a Design and Build Company?

A design and build company gives you access to a complete package of all the professionals you’ll need for your project, including architectural and home designers, high quality builders and trades, project managers and more. Essentially, it’s a one-stop shop for your extension, handling every aspect of the process in-house, from initial design and permits through to building and completion.

In contrast, an architect is a professional who can supply the plans for your project and provide any services needed to get your plans approved. Some architects can then recommend contractors and suppliers or offer project management services at additional cost.

The Pros and Cons of Using an Architect

First, let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages of using an architect.

Pros

  • Specialised professional  An architect is a professional with a degree in architecture who has passed the ARE (Architects Registration Board). This makes them a technical specialist in their field, with a statutory code of practice they need to adhere to.
  • Highly-detailed design – Architects are trained in a very technically detailed approach to building, looking at every aspect of the structure and design to make the project work. This is very important in projects where there are multiple systems and highly detailed requirements, from fireproofing buildings and supplying bespoke ventilation systems to eco-friendly building systems, unique structural spaces, and statement features.
  • Large-scale focus – Architects are big picture specialists, focussing on creating an entire environment for work or lifestyle. For example, they may work on creating an innovative, high-tech smart home, a theatre, or a green office building, bringing together every aspect of the building’s design and creation to deliver a space that fulfils that concept from top to bottom.

Cons

  • Expensive – Depending on the firm you use and the additional services they provide, an architect’s fees can add anything from 15-25% and upwards to your entire building cost.
  • Focus on larger projects – Many architecture firms don’t focus on small projects like home extensions, since the fees can make up a large portion of the overall cost. Usually, it is easier to find an architect for a full home build than an extension.
  • Fragmentation – You’ll have multiple points of contact, contractors, and subcontractors to deal with, even if your architect is the project manager. Most team members will have never worked together before, and many will have multiple projects on their timeline. This can push out your project delivery timeline and potentially damage the quality of your project if one or more contractors are not doing their best work.
  • Detail you don’t require – Architects usually want to create something in line with their vision, which may not be what you want or need. Maybe you want a warm and traditional space, but they push you towards a more trendy, minimalist, and high-tech design. Or maybe they want to add features and extras that could enhance your space and make it look great in their portfolio, but it pushes you far out of budget and doesn’t suit the rest of your home.

Pros and Cons of Using Design and Build Company

Now that we’ve looked at what architects offer, let’s see the pros and cons of a design and build company.

Pros

  • Specialised Professionals Top design and build companies use specialised architectural professionals that give you all of the advantages that you would gain from going directly to an architect. You get the benefits of high-detailed design and large-scale focus at less cost than if you would go directly to the architect.
  • Full-package deal – A top design and build company has all of the specialists you need in-house and will co-ordinate them to work on your project. There’s no need to hire anyone when you have a full package, so there’s no hassle about finding a builder or home designer yourself. They can also handle any planning permissions and permits your project may need.
  • Seamless project management – Project management is part of the deal, so you don’t have to worry about co-ordinating contractors or managing relationships between them. Because it’s all handled in-house, each member of the team knows the other and have worked out a schedule for their portion of your project, ensuring less hassle and faster project delivery times because no one is working other jobs on the side or causing delays for other contractors.
  • One point of contact – You’ll work one-on-one with the project manager who will then co-ordinate the team. This means there’s no back and forth for you to deal with, and if you have any changes you need to make, they can be implemented with minimal hassle.
  • Affordability – A design and build company encompasses all the services you need to create and deliver your extension, which brings down the overall costs. You’ll know all the costs upfront, be able to select from their list of suppliers, and be able to budget for your extension easily. You can even use our cost calculator to get a good idea of how much your project will cost.
  • Trusted work – So many people have building nightmare stories to tell – and a design and build company offers the ideal solution. Each team member is experienced, trained, and has the work experience in the company to prove themselves. You’re not hiring anyone externally who is unknown, who could potentially run over time, supply poor quality work or materials, or cause conflict. Your design and build company can refer you to multiple projects they’ve all worked on, complete with testimonials, so you know it’s work you can trust.

Cons

  • Not all design and build companies are equal – Always check the quality of past projects, the experience of past clients, and reviews before you sign on with a design and build company. Poor quality companies are out there, especially in the construction industry, so look for someone who can show you their past projects in person, who specialises in the type of extension you want, and who has a track record of successful projects delivered over an extended period of time.
  • Package quality differences – Some design and build companies specialise in budget extensions while others deliver bespoke services, so carefully check what their packages offer first. A good way to do this is to check out their reviews, and see their past projects in person to get an idea of the build quality, the designs they’ve done in the past, and the areas they’ve worked in. Quality always comes at a price, but the value it adds to your home and lifestyle is priceless!

Read more about building regulations in the UK.

Bespoke Home Extensions from London’s Leading Design and Build Company

Plus Rooms is a leading design and build firm in London that specialises in custom home extensions, including kitchen, living space, and loft extensions – and you can see our full portfolio here. Our talented team will lead you through the process from start to finish, helping you get the best floor plan, 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 11 years we’ve helped over 10,000 homeowners transform their houses through high-quality design and build projects – let’s see what we can do for you.

Ideal Home October 2022

Pitch Perfect

Architect James Bernard from Plus Rooms shares how a flat roof extension with wraparound glazing maximises space  

The Problem The original kitchen was cramped with limited space for the owners to cook or entertain guests.

BEFORE

The Solution ‘We extended at the rear and into the side return to create a wraparound extension,’ explained architect James Bernard, director of Plus Rooms, ‘which involved moving the existing cloakroom in line with the stairs for a new utility room. Instead of a large opening onto the garden, we fitted a separate steel-framed door and windows to help regulate traffic flow. The newly landscapes patio and garden has now become a natural continuation of the kitchen / dining room. The homeowners were keen to have a continuous glass ceiling so we created a pitch flat roof with sloped glazing, which opens the area up to the sky. The steel-framed glazing and exposed steel beams add a sleek and industrial accent to the room. Exposed brickwork paired with a herringbone flooring gives the new extension warmth, while perfectly balancing detail and simplicity. The build took either weeks before the kitchen and flooring were added. Now, the garden feels more connected to the house, creating a wonderful atmosphere inside and out’.

The herringbone floor adds a strong geometric element to the room that is softened by the timber, contrasting with the sharp lines of the ceiling support beam and pitched glazed roof

Home Notes:

  • Homeowners – Loella and George Collier. They have one child and work in investment and advertising
  • Property – A five-bedroom terraced house in south east London
  • Architect – James Bernard of Plus Rooms (plusrooms.co.uk)
  • Builders – Plus Rooms (plusrooms.co.uk)
  • TOTAL COST – £90,000 (construction only – not including kitchen, cloakroom, flooring and decor(

Exposed Brick Walls

Architect James Bernard gives us the lowdown

1. DON’T OVERDO IT

An exposed brick wall is a great way to add character and it brings a lot of detail to the room, but keep it in context as too much and it starts to look busy. As a rule of thumb, use about 30-40% of the overall amount of wall space for the best effect.

2. LOCATION IS KEY

Aim to place an exposed brick wall on the opposite side to the entrance of the space, in order to create the maximum impact.

3. KEEP A CONNECTION

Running a continuous exposed brick wall from your inside space into your garden makes a great design feature. It will carry your eye through the house and out to the garden so you’ll feel like the space extends outside.

4. THE OLDER THE BETTER

Reclaimed yellow bricks lend themselves best for this because of their texturing and the variety of colours they hold. You’ll have walls that have more characters, and this will really shine through int he overall atmosphere of the room. Brick slips are a great way to achieve this effect.

5. SEAL IT

Keep in mind that an original brick wall left unsealed may have moisture coming through, which can cause white marks and ruin the overall effect, so make sure that it’s property sealed during the works.

Zoning the kitchen and dining areas ensures the space doesn’t feel cavernous

‘Remember overheating has to be a consideration with glass roofs, as a south facing glass room would be much hotter than north facing in summer’.

Including a glass roof creates a great sense of freedom and connection to the outside

James Bernard, Director of Plus Rooms