Real Homes May 2023

Spring Palette

Kate’s and Ross’ confident use of colour has brought freshness and charm to their new open-plan kitchen extension.



Katy McMillan, who works for charity WIG, and husband Ross, who works in advertising technology, live here with children Daisy, Lottie, and Florrie


A four-bedroom Victorian house in London


£146,000 (total cost including garden makeover)

Tall bespoke units run parallel to the kitchen area and offer a separate space for utility storage. Kitchen cabinets painted in Little Greene. Kitchen door painted in Rhubarb Rose, Crown. For similar armchairs, try the Retrostar, DC Concept. See Fusion Living for a yellow plastic dining chair

The bright combination of colours and a fun pattern help make the space look inviting, even on rainy days.
Tiles Tiles Direct, Lights, Pooky. Handles, Hafele. Range cooker, Hotpoint. Boiling water tap, Qettle. Sink, Sockets and switches, The Electrical Counter. Try Atlantic Shopping for a bar stool

A hot water tap frees up work space, as you don’t need a kettle,’ says Daisy. She picked this modern innovation in a traditional style to match the central mixer tap. Fluted ceramic sink, aged brass tap and hot water tap, all DeVol

The great thing about living in a property for a while before attempting to make changes to it, is that you can really appreciate what works and what might be lacking from the existing set up. Ross and Katy had been in their family home for 13 years before their three children were born, and knew the building inside out. This meant that when it came to extending, they were able to make informed choices, and marry them with playful design considerations. The finished project goes to show that good design can make the most out of any space.

Step 1

Disjointed Spaces

‘The existing layout didn’t use the available space to its maximum capacity,’ says Ross. ‘ We wanted to reconfigure and add space. It was a typical Victorian property with a front room and dining room, a long corridor/hallway and a galley kitchen to the side. The dining room became a dumping ground.

‘The kitchen itself was okay until we had our third child. There wasn’t enough room to have five chairs around the table, and we couldn’t have guests around. We knocked the dining room into the side return, so we now have one big space. We wanted to stay here because it’s a very nice street and we have great neighbours. The children love their school.’

Step 2

Plus Side

‘We only went to the side, not the back, as we didn’t want to lose any garden – we are always out there during the summer,’ says Katy. ‘The project wasn’t about making the house bigger – it was about making the space work better. Plus Rooms was the only company that suggested knocking through. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t have used the space half as much.

‘We started in Feb 2020. The team removed the walls and installed the roof, then work ground to a halt due to the pandemic. We had a temporary kitchen in the front room. We were working crazy hours and living in the loft room. Then we got Covid and couldn’t go out and get food. It was a challenging time!


Build works £77,000

Kitchen (including appliances and fitting) £26,000

Glazing £9,600

Design & build Plus Rooms,

Joiner/carpenter Julien Giles,

Interior design Elie Lyon at Wildcat Interiors,

Sliding doors Integral Home,

Sliding doors allow light to flood the interior space. They offer a strong indoor-outdoor connection and unobstructed views out into the sizeable gardens. DoorsIntegral Home. Floorboardsreclaimed.

Step 3

Built for Purpose

‘The kitchen was made by our carpenter and spray painted,’ Katy says. ‘We wanted a run of cupboards hosting the pantry and washing machine. A high-end kitchen wasn’t in the budget, and it would’ve been a challenge to find one from a regular supplier. Julien was recommended by a friend, and it’s worked out great; every millimetre of space is used.

‘We also worked with an interior designer, Elie Lyon, to help with the layout and colour scheme. Her ideas were brilliant; she encouraged me to try new things and visualise them in a different way. I worked out where the light came through to see the best type of green for the units, and then I matched the pink hue to them.’

Step 4

Small Details

‘As walls were coming down, we saw this as an opportunity to run an internet cable under the floor as the broadband in the back room wasn’t great,’ says Ross. ‘Now it’s got strong Wi-Fi. We also have built-in speakers. ‘In the summer, the sliding doors are constantly open. We had to decide between bi-folds, sliding and Crittallstyle, and while I love the latter, I was being pragmatic about the amount of time we’d have them open or closed. Part of the glazing is static, but we knew we’d have an L-shaped sofa so it wouldn’t matter. Because we were designing from scratch, we could put a cat flap in. Plus Rooms helped project-manage this and suggested where to place it so you can’t see it.’

Step 5

Opening Up

‘In the summer, we spend all of our time by the sliding doors to the patio,’ Ross adds. ‘We have the doors open and it feels like you’re sitting outside. As the kids grow older, we each have our own spaces.

‘We like entertaining, and when we have people over for dinner, it makes it easier having the kitchen set back as you don’t have people in front of the oven when you need to access it. Before the changes, we used to have to walk down the corridor and take three or four trips to the kitchen and back. It’s just a lot more accessible with this setup. We don’t feel like we’re on top of each other anymore, and we’re using the square footage of the house much better.’


Good Homes May 2023

Artistic Impression

A bright extension and kitchen remodel has added an inspiring new dimension to this family’s mid-terrace home


Having lived in their south-London house since 2011, Jess Blandford and partner Duncan knew they’d eventually need extra kitchen space when their second child came along, and it was while working from home during Covid they realised the property could be improved by remodelling and extending into the side return. ‘We wanted to future-proof for the years ahead’, explains Jess. ‘So we chose Plus Rooms to design and manage the build, as they mostly work on Victorian terrace houses like our, and were really clear on costs and timings.’


The couples main objective was to create a flexible space where people could be doing different things in various zones, plus a good connection to the garden. But the game-changer was a suggestion from Plus Rooms’ James Bernard to divide up the ‘difficult’ middle room. Two-thirds became a utility and WC, with the remaining third extending the kitchen back into the house, allowing a run of units and the range cooker to be recessed to create a large cooking area without sacrificing the rest of the open space. Meanwhile, Duncan was certain an additional L-shaped extension for a seating corner would be better use of the raised flower beds on one side of the garden. ‘I was worried the small increase in footprint wouldn’t be worth the cost,’ admits Jess. ‘But it creates a whole other zone in the living space, and feels much bigger than we thought.’ A stunning angled glass window, which lets in lots of natural light, completes the extension.


‘We were determined to reuse wherever we could, and it would have felt wrong to send our existing good-quality cabinets to landfill’, explains Jess. So the ‘new’ kitchen is the old one in a different layout, with some additional custom-built cabinets and drawers, all repainted in dark green.

‘The build was stressful at times, but the Plus Rooms team kept us informed, and worked hard to finish to deadline the week before Christmas,’ says Jess. And the completed extension has more than just offer more floor space for artist Jess – the extra wall space also gives her the flexibility to regularly change the display of her paintings when the family room turns public gallery during the Dulwich Festival Artists’ Open House.

‘Everyone is surprised at just how big it feels compared to other extensions,’ says Jess. ‘It definitely improved how we interact as a family, and we know it will work really well as the children grow up.’


Meet the Renovators

Jess Blandford, an artist, and her partner Duncan, a lawyer, live with their two children, aged 7 and 10, in this five-bedroom, Victorian mid-terrace house in south London

Build Brief

To extend the property into the side return and create an open-plan kitchen-diner, with snug at the back, and a new utility/WC

Ground Floor

1 Living Room
2 Utility
3 WC
4 Kitchen
5 Dining area
6 Snug

EXTERIOR ADDITION The unusually shaped snug window matches the pitch of the roof exactly, giving a pleasing symmetry to the old and new parts of the house. By extending on just one side, and leaving the steps up to the garden on the other side, the couple saved costs, added indoor space and preserved more of the garden


Why upcycle?

If you’re on a tight budget, upcycling old units needn’t limit your design and finish choices. Simple updates include giving old cupboard fronts a new coat of paint or fitting new handles, or for a more dramatic refresh, new worksurfaces or splashbacks. If your existing worksurfaces are solid wood, consider sanding to remove stains and scuffs, then re-oil with linseed or Danish oil to prolong their life.

Reconfigure the Space

Re-siting cabinetry is a great way to update your layout, so think about the positions for the sink, oven and fridge to ensure your work triangle works for you. Remember to factor in the cost of a professional if needed to reposition or make repairs, as well as storage costs for the kitchen during any build work. Keeping your old base units but replacing wall cabinets with open shelving will achieve a modern look.

Incorporate new features

Adding new elements such as bespoke plate rack or peg hooks for utensils will help to create a more up-to-date design. Laying new flooring or painting over old tiles with specialist paint will give a new look for minimal outlay. Lastly, new light fittings – whether pendant lights over a dining table or island, or a simple floor lamp – can switch up the mood in an old kitchen and make a big difference.

OPEN-PLAN SPACE The new extension has created a series of family-friendly zones, with the island helping to differentiate between the practical cooking area and relaxed living-dining space. Reconfigured to create a U-shaped layout, the old Harvey Jones cabinets and newly made extra units are all painted in Sanderson’s Amsterdam Green, teamed with worksurfaces in Caesarstone’s Arabetto Quartz and warm brass fittings

‘I was keen to have plenty of storage and we wanted to make sure the new space was light and well-connected to the garden’

GALLERY WALLS ‘We wanted to be flexible enough to have a regularly changing gallery of pictures, so the simplicity of the colour scheme really lends itself to that’, says Jess, who showcases her art as part of the Dulwich Festival’s annual Artists’ Open House (13-14 & 20-21 May 2023).


Sliding doors, three rooflights and a large angled window in the snug create a light and airy room. Pale grey stone tiles continue into the garden for a seamless transition between the spaces, with underfloor heating in the kitchen area, while interior designer Cecile Bell suggested the pink wall and mustard sofas, sourcing furniture and furnishings in natural wood shades to blur the boundaries between insider and out.

‘I was worried the small increase in footprint for the snug wouldn’t be worth the cost, but it creates a whole other zone int he space, and feels much bigger than we thought it would’.


The middle room was remodelled to create a utility and cloakroom, which a local carpenter made floor-to-ceiling cupboards for to house everything from the laundry, an extra freezer and a sink to coats, shoes, sports gear and wine racks. ‘You name it, it’s stored there!’, says Jess


Sliding doors & angled window, Integral. Rooflights, Velux. Floor tiles, Floors of Stone. Kitchen worksurfaces, Caesarstone. Pendant lights & metal spotlights, Pooky. Brass wall lights, Jim Lawrence. Dining table, Loaf. Dining chairs, coffee table and rug, Cox & Cox. Sideboard, Made with Oak. Sofa, Love Your Home. Cloakroom fittings, Bells. Cloakroom tiles, Mandarin Stone. Wallpaper, House of Hackney. Paint, LIttle Green, Farrow & Ball & Sanderson.


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.


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 (
  • Builders – Plus Rooms (
  • TOTAL COST – £90,000 (construction only – not including kitchen, cloakroom, flooring and decor(

Exposed Brick Walls

Architect James Bernard gives us the lowdown


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.


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


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.


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.


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

KBB Focus July 2022

James Bernard from Plus Rooms on designing a kitchen in an extension


James Bernard, director of design and build company Plus Rooms, on what to prioritise and the pitfalls to avoid when designing a kitchen in a brand-new extension.

Q: What are your key recommendations for zoning a kitchen space in a new extension?
A: Start by understanding what your client will gain from the extension and how they hope to use it. The best zoning really depends on a number of different factors, not least who and how many will be occupying the increased space.

Take into account all that they want to include. Additional WCs, coats area and utility cupboards can usually all be accommodated and these are best incorporated in the area closest to the hallway as possible, and positioned in such a way as to avoid taking up more space than they need to, or creating dead zones in the kitchen.

Q: How do you ensure that it feels connected to the rest of the house, especially if it’s a modern addition to a period property?
A: This really relates to aesthetics rather than the design itself. One of the best ways to maintain continuity with the original – and often more traditional – part of the house is to continue a similar style or tone of flooring. An engineered oak floor, straight board or parquet would lend itself really well to both spaces and will create a natural flow.

Q: What are the best ways to prevent it from feeling cold and cavernous? 
A: You need a balance of detail without appearing cluttered or busy – warm colours and textures certainly help, as well as choosing off- or warm-white colours such as Farrow & Ball Ammonite. Exposed brick work also works well in bringing traditional character to a new space.

I also recommend embracing structural details between the new and the old rather than trying to conceal them, because creating too many clean lines can sometimes work against you. Allowing steel beams to be exposed rather than boxing them in can work really well.

Q: What are the main practical elements to consider?
A: Consider where the main access is into the space and how the traffic line flows. It’s best not to obstruct this in your new layout, so try to reduce the number of entry points – the more entries you have, the harder it will be to optimise and zone the space.

Q: What consideration needs to be given to lighting?
Pay attention to where the light comes into the room from. Usually, a kitchen will cope better with being in a darker area than a dining or living space. I always recommend leaving the back wall that leads to a garden as open as possible, because this way you will maximise the light and the views.

Q: What are the best ways to connect the kitchen to the outside space, and ensure continuity between the garden and the kitchen extension?
Running a continuous exposed brick wall from inside to out will carry your eye through the house and out to the garden, and it makes a great design feature. It’s also important to choose an opening that fits the garden. For example, sliding doors are ideal for smaller gardens because homeowners can leave furniture in their outside space right up to the back wall – even with the doors opened. Hidden pocket versions are also now starting to emerge, which allow the sliding doors to be inserted into the wall so you have a fully open space, which creates great continuity..’

Q: What are the main pitfalls to avoid when designing a kitchen in a new extension?
I would advise against crowding out the back wall adjacent to the outside space, even if your client doesn’t have a large garden. Seeing the outside space when you enter the room creates a sense of space and allows you to connect with the garden. This area adjacent to the garden is best reserved for dining and living zones.

KBBFocus – James Bernard from Plus Rooms on designing a kitchen in an extension

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.

iBuild May 2022

How should I approach my home extension?

Faced with high moving costs and a scarcity of homes currently available on the market, many homeowners are considering extending their property.  But navigating local regulations, budgeting, and choosing between the many options available can be difficult. 

We ask James Bernard, Director of Plus Rooms, a design and build company that has completed over 1400 home extension, for his tips on how you should approach your extension project.  

Work to a clear budget

Ideally, you want to be given a clear and transparent idea of costs ahead of the works, including architectural drawings, structural calculations, and getting the permissions in place.  If you’re looking to add value to your home, keep in mind that a wraparound extension will be more expensive than a rear extension, but you obviously get a much bigger space as a result, and the value per square metre is much better.

Research your local permission rules

Extension rules might vary from council to council, some local Governments allow wraparound extensions for example, but only under certain conditions.  The requirement is often to have a reduced wall height against the boundary wall, so it is an ideal choice if you own a terrace property with a side return space, it’s often useful to look at what other properties on your street have done. 

Rear extension can require less paperwork

Regulations tend to be more flexible, and you can often apply under either permitted development or prior approval – which can be a much simpler process.  So, I would say, if you don’t have an existing outrigger, consider a rear extension.

Bigger is not always better

Your garden is really important when it comes to calculating the value of your home, so over-extending can be counterproductive when it comes to selling your property.  Be mindful of the garden space your currently have and make sure that a certain proportion of it is retained post-extension.  If possible, try to incorporate unused side areas into a side return.  This will allow you to maximise your ground floor area without affecting the view and feel of your garden. 


Visualise how you will use your new space

A wraparound extension is the best choice for open plans because you end up with more space overall.  The room will also be better proportioned, making it easier to fit a kitchen / dining / living space into the area.  On the other hand, a rear extension extending onto the outrigger can allow you to make more of the space in your side return.  We find that it is a dead space for a lot of clients, so it can be a way to make more productive use of that area and help you make the most of your garden.

Rethink the traffic flow in your home

Adding an extension can attract more traffic to the rea of your property, and if this is not anticipated, it might affect your new space.  To help with this, at Plus Roos, we try to cut some of the traffic flow by targeting it to specific paths, Blocking up part of the opening into the rear reception, for example, can be an efficient way of doing this and gives the space the best chance of working in its own right.

Anticipate changes in your daily life during the works

Depending on the type of extension your choose, your daily life can be affected by the works, and that is something you will need to anticipate.  Setting up a temporary kitchen in another room will probably be required when the original one if decommissioned, so include this in your budget.  If you’re working from home, consider where you will have your working space to minimise disruption.

Take steps to prevent isolation loss during the works

It’s always best to work in sealed areas to live comfortably in the remaining parts of the house during the building works.  This is especially important in winter.  At Plus Rooms, we typically build our extensions first, ensure they are weathertight, and the connect them to the main house, so there is no disruption to the areas you live in.

Glazing might affect your energy bills

A lot of glazing on the back of a south-facing property will create a greenhouse effect, whereas a north-facing house will have to be heated a lot more if it has excessive glazing.  Building Regulations now require a lot of insulation from both the structural and glazing point of view, but it’s key to get the right balance of structure and glass.

Think of how your new space will work with the rest of the house

A new extension is often an opportunity to create a difficult atmosphere and a ‘stand out’ space within your home.  Still, you need to consider how the new area will connect with the original parts and rooms of the existing property.  Some people have a classic home internally, but they step away from this idea when they complete their rear ground-floor extension, and this creates a nice modern and traditional style fusion.  Choosing the same flooring, cornicing or wall colours throughout the whole floor an also provide a certain amount of consistency so that it’s not too jarring and can just help bring the difficult areas of the home together. 

Real Homes March 2022

Gorgeous green kitchen has a fresh feel

A stunning extension and Charley Smith’s clear design vision has resulted in a family kitchen-diner that’s ripe for entertaining.

Feature   Ifeoluwa Adedeji
Photography   Adelina Iliev
Project Build   Plus Rooms 

Sometimes you only know what you want when you see it, and that was exactly the case for Charley when she found a new family home for her husband, Adam, and their two young children. Although the house was a bit of a mismatch and looked like nothing had been done to it for a couple of decades, it had beautiful features such as stained glass, parquet flooring and fireplaces – all elements that helped seal the deal. Charley knew they’d build a beautiful new extension to replace a conservatory that was on its last legs – and now, with the project completed, she tells us how she did it.

The couple had a good idea of the finish and style they wanted to achieve. Charley factored in lots of gold accents when choosing the colour scheme. Design & Build Plus Rooms, Kitchen Naked Kitchens,  Glazing Integral Home, Flooring, Tile Expert. Stools, Furniture & Design Studio. Pendants, Cox & Cox. Wine cooler, Caple

‘The house needed a bit more TLC than we thought,’ says Charley. ‘The windows were single glazed and the panes were cracked, so we needed to replace them, then other things cropped up that we didn’t think we’d have to do. The foundations needed to be deeper as the soil has a high water content and we’re on a hill. The floor was a beautiful mosaic, but was all cracked and needed to be replaced. We moved in December 2019 and started on the windows, then Covid happened and we had to stop with half the windows done. We got the building works completed between lockdowns one and two. We lived here during the build, but fortunately it was summer, so it wasn’t too cold.’

A larder cupboard provides lots of storage and makes it easy to tidy appliances away

The owners Charley Smith (@thetreehouse_onthehill), who works in asset management, her husband  Adam, who works in advertising, and their children, Esmeralda and Ruben
The property A five-bedroom 1920s house in Forest Hill
Project cost £180,000 (for kitchen extension and garden)

‘We converted the original kitchen into a hallway and utility room, knocked down the old conservatory and built out and across. The former kitchen had a galley layout and a huge Aga, but we wanted something that was open plan and connected to the living area and playroom, and for us to be able to get out to the garden. We used Design & Build firm Plus Rooms who did a pre-planning package and knew what was allowed in terms of planning permissions. We had one pushback, which was that they wanted us to drop down the roof height once we reached the border of the neighbours. We wanted it to be as high as planning would allow so the room would feel more spacious and bring in lots of light.’

Charley considered the practicalities of family use when planning the design and choosing materials. ‘It was important to think about how easy the floors and work surfaces are to clean, as well as how durable the units are.’ Sink, Perrin & Rowe. Tap, Quooker. Worktop, Croydon Granite. Oven, Bosch

‘We would have loved a deVOL kitchen, but it was out of budget. A friend recommended Naked and we found it to be a really good middle ground in terms of design and quality versus price. We did a lot of the planning ourselves and really led the project, telling them we wanted a bank of units along the wall, an island and a dresser. We went against advice for the distance between the island and wall units and brought the island out further to make the kitchen more spacious. 

‘We wanted a style in keeping with the period of the house and chose frameless Shaker doors that are a bit more modern – I’d say what we have now is a mix of the old and new.’

’For the lighting under the skylight, we came up with a creative solution using a curtain pole and a light we designed from Creative Cables.’ Discreet underfloor heating frees up wall space from radiators. Skylight Integral Home, Dining set, Loaf. Lights, Creative Cables. Chairs, Six The Residence

‘Originally our architect designed the extension with a whole wall of glass at the end, but I wanted some sort of separation between the kitchen and the dining area, so we have two sets of doors with a little wall in between. I think it actually makes the space feel bigger. 

‘I ordered almost all the possible paint samples as I love colour, but we ended up choosing an emerald green I came across on social media – I really love it. We were originally looking at dark colours that would match the Crittall-style doors. I always wanted this style; it’s in keeping with the property and matches the stained glass windows, which are leaded.’

The garden has been tamed and offers a space for the children to play while the grown ups can watch them from the kitchen or the patio. Tiles, Bert & May. Parasol, Jumping Bean London. For a similar table and benches, try the Olbia by Beliani

‘We had a budget to stick to but because we were thrifty, we didn’t have to scrimp on anything. I searched high and low to get the Buster & Punch-style handles that I loved. I found the ones we used via Plank Hardware. I’d definitely recommend asking for a discount on every single purchase you make: you don’t always get one, but most people will be willing to give you something.’ 

‘My other tip is to stay focused. You can get really distracted with Pinterest and Instagram and can get decision fatigue when doing a big project. Stick to what you love and go with your gut.’





Good Homes March 2022

Industrial Revelation

Ella and George have used steel beams, exposed brickwork and parquet flooring to great effect in their extended kitchen


Feature   Debbie Jeffrey
Photography   Liane Ryan
Project   Plus Rooms 


Ella, who works in advertising, lives with her husband George, who works in finance, and their baby son Jude, in this five-bedroom, three-storey Victorian terrace in south-east London. 


To extend out into the garden and across into the rear side return to create a spacious kitchen / dining / family room, a new utility room, and a WC. 


Living in a small two-bedroom flat, we wanted a larger home where we could start a family, and as my parents have tackled several renovations, I was excited to take on a project – and this terraced house needed plenty of work. Although the property had a larger than average garden, its small galley kitchen was north-east facing and dark, and the rest was falling apart and inhabited by mice, so we were keen to make a start – although the project was delayed by the pandemic.  George loves cooking so he took charge of the kitchen while I focused on the interior design. 


Plus Rooms’ fixed-price design and build service really appealed, and after submitting their design for planning permission they were happy for us to stay living in the house throughout the build, creating a temporary kitchen for us.  As I was heavily pregnant by the end of the project, we moved out while the decorators were painting to avoid the fumes, but living in the house was made even more difficult when we caught Covid, so the builders had to access the extension via the rear garden gate so that we could isolate.  As well as the extension, they remodelled the back garden with a larger terrace reached through Crittall-style doors, which has completely changed the outlook and the way we use the space. 


We used brick slips for the internal wall, which take up a fraction of the space while still looking authentic.  We both loved the pared-back, industrial look so tried to match the aged appearance of the exterior brickwork, and the glass roof brings in so much additional light – it couldn’t have been more different from the cramped, dark kitchen we first inherited. 


Kitchen building work & materials £47,770
Glass roof £18,630
Sliding doors £8,514
Plumbing £5,990
Electrics £4,050




Building the extension with a combination of flat and pitched roofing means that privacy and views from windows were protected, while creating maximum head height in the main space


With brick slips creating their desired industrial-style aesthetic, and marble worktops on the DeVol cabinets, Ella and George chose a wooden counter for the island alongside parquet flooring over underfloor heating to warm the scheme up

NEED-TO-KNOW*  Choosing Builders


Never just employ someone who comes knocking on your door – contact friends and neighbours who’ve had similar work completed in recent months and ask about their experience.  Trade associations such as the Federation of Master Builders ( can also provide names of tradespeople in your area.


There’s no legal obligation for the major building trades to undertake any training – anyone can call themselves a builder, bricklayer or carpenter – so it’s up to you to research them and follow up references.


Aim to obtain several written quotes for the work you’re planning, find out how long the job is going to take, and get all the necessary details in writing.  A good general builder should be able to manage your project by coordinating material deliveries, subcontractors, plant hire, building inspectors, and all other aspects of the build. 

‘The glass roof brings in so much additional light now that we’ve installed blinds for summer shade’


Instead of boxing in the structural beams, they’ve been made into a feature by exposing the steelwork


Glass roof & sliding doors, Integral by Plus Rooms, Brick slips,, Shaker kitchen, DeVol, Parquet flooring, Floors of Stone.  For similar bar stools, try Cult Furniture.  For similar dining chairs, try Barker and Stonehouse.  For a similar dining table, try Beliani.  For similar metal pendants, try Industville

Good Homes January 2022

Another Level

Replacing a cramped loft conversion has given the Ransoms a stylist, light-filled bedroom and en-suite


Feature   Debbie Jeffrey
Photography   Liane Ryan
Project   Plus Rooms 


Matt Ransom, who runs a post-production retouching company, and wife Dawn, a PA, live with children Keira, 16 and Oliver, 12, in this three-storey, four-bedroom 1930s semi-detached house in Bromley.


To replace the existing draughty, cramped loft conversion with a larger timber dormer, removing and re-tiling the entire roof and forming a new window in the side wall to creating a bright, spacious
bedroom and en suite.


Building work & materials £55,800
Finishes & labour £9,804
Sliding glass doors, glass balustrade & window £10,818
Rooflights & blinds £1,860
Sanitaryware & shower screen £6,627



Q Why did you replace the existing loft conversion? 

When we bought the house four years ago, it was dated and needed to be completely renovated, but we loved the garden and green views and knew we could make some real improvements. The loft conversion, dating from 1975, was so cramped and low that you couldn’t stand up properly in much of it, and there was a tiled cupboard that was supposed to serve as an en suite. Gaps around the window meant the space was always freezing cold in winter, and we never went up there.

Q How did you tackle the project? 

We’d seen Plus Rooms featured in magazines, and spotted one of their vans, so asked them for a quote for a new timber dormer to create a main bedroom and en suite. They drew up plans, which included a replacement staircase and gained planning permission before starting work

Q Where did you find inspiration for the interior? 

We wanted to keep the scheme neutral and then dress it with colourful furniture, plants and artwork, so used magazines and Pinterest to help us plan, before shopping online. Plus Rooms installed the sanitaryware and decorated the rooms, and everything ran really smoothly. There’s underfloor heating in the shower room, and the extra height has allowed for both a bath and shower. The whole space feels private and isn’t overlooked, so we can open the sliding doors and really enjoy the feeling of being high up above the trees.

Plenty of plants help improve air quality and provide a relaxing and decorative focus, connecting the indoor and outdoor spaces

The wardrobes in the bedroom have been designed to follow the slope of the roof, making full use of the available space

Installing glazed sliding doors and a clear glass safety balustrade enables the new space to capture stunning views of the garden and trees



Loft Conversions


Loft conversions can cost less than half  the price of building a new extension  as the basic structure is already in
place, and planning permission isn’t  always required. Some lofts can prove  expensive to adapt, though, and space
will also be taken up by  a new staircase,  so make sure that you’re actually  gaining more living space overall.


Many specialist companies offer complete design and build services, and although work times vary, use 8-12 weeks as a guide. Alternatively, approach an architect or designer to produce drawings , which can then be used for tendering to builders. Building regulations apply and fire safety is vital.


Consider how the new space will be heated and soundproofed.  If extending your existing central heating system check your boilers is powerful enough to cope, and think about the type of flooring to avoid noise transferring to neighbours or the rooms below. 

Twin sinks and mirror are suitable for even the smallest bathroom if scaled correctly, and saves time on busy mornings


The new dormer has allowed room for both a freestanding tub and a sizeable shower in the space.


Sliding glass doors, £7,026; glass balustrade, £2,412; window £1,380, all Integral. Rooflights, £1,400; blackout blinds, £460, Velux. Aura flooring, £55 per sqm, Polyflor. Walls painted in Night Jewels 2, £18 per ltr, Dulux. Brenton oval double panel vertical radiator in Anthracite, £327; Crosswater Belgravia lever tall basin mixer tap, £259.99 each; exposed thermostatic shower, £929.99; ArmourCast Essence freestanding bath, £899.99, all Drench. Shower glass & fittings, £1,877, Par Glass. Basins, £238 each; vanity unit, £1,739, all Parker Howley & Co. Butler & Rose Caledonia lever deck mounted bath filler, £299.99, Tap Warehouse. Abbey Décor floor tiles, £38.40 per sqm, Porcelain Superstore. Flat Chalk Farm white wall tiles, £20.95 per sqm, Walls and Floors

i-Build Feb 2021


After 12 years of living in their late-Victorian East Dulwich home, Paul and Lindsay Davies were forced to admit that their kitchen was no longer fit for purpose. With little room to appreciate the heart of their home and difficult spaces in general, the pair turned to Plus Rooms for help. 



As a specialist in improving and enlarging residential properties, Plus Rooms has addressed the Davies’ spatial and aesthetic issues, improving the natural flow of the ground floor and increasing sought-after daylighting with an extension that complements the character of the original house with an eye-catching, striding design.  Here, i-Build Editor, Rebecca Kemp, talks to Lindsay about the stunning transformation and finds out more about the space the couple lived in for over a decade before deciding to take the home improvement route. 

RK: Tell us why you decided to take on this project?
LD: All our cupboards were full to bursting, we had no work surface space, and the garden entrance was poky and awkward.  The side return had become a dumping ground and was being used as a collective litter tray by all the neighbourhood’s cats!  To top if off, every kitchen appliance seemed to break at once, so we had to replace them all anyway.  It felt like a sign. 

RK: How did you combine the original building’s style with the extension? 
LD: Externally, we kept the same style of brickwork, using modern ‘aged’ reproductions of old London stock bricks which look virtually indistinguishable from the originals.  Inside, we wanted to open up the back part of our living room so that if flowed through to the kitchen.  We extended the floorboards and stained them, so it looked seamless. 

RK: What was your vision and inspiration? 
LD:  We had a Pinterest board that changed over time – we started off wanting to replicate our original kitchen (which had quite a ‘cottagey’ vite), but we kept finding ourselves drawn to more dramatic, darker colours.  We found a black freestanding cabinet we liked, and the rest of the kitchen’s look followed on from that. 


RK: How long did it take to gain planning permission? 
LD: It did take a while, though I don’t remember exactly how long.  Plus Rooms guided us through the whole process. 

RK: Were there any challenging aspects to the project and build? 
LD:  The most challenging thing was living and working at home while it was all going on.  I’m a Book Editor, and I work from home most of the time, so there was no getting away from the noise and chaos.  The builders did a good job trying to protect the rest of the house.  Hover, it was still very challenging spending three months cooking on a little two-ring electric stone balanced on top of a makeshift work surface in our living room, with all of our stored food covered in a layer of dust!

In terms of the actual build, the hardest thing was getting the huge steel beams through the house.  I thought the builders were going to have to saw our bannisters off at one point or dismantle our original Victorian sash window in the living room (over my dead body!)  Luckily, they managed to get them in, but that was a hugely stressful moment. 

RK:  Why did you choose to work with Plus Rooms?  
LD:  Two of our friends had done kitchen extensions with Plus Rooms, so we knew they were good.  Both friends had used a particular build team, so we requested to have the exact same one – we waited until they were free as we wanted to go with a team that had been personally recommended.  We liked the fact that Plus Rooms assigned a project co-ordinator to oversee the project, so we had someone with technical knowledge we could go to if we had any problems. 

RK:  How long did the project take?  
LD:  The main build was pretty much completed to timeframe – eight or nine weeks if I remember rightly.  We started on 1st April 2019, and we were in by July.  But there’s always a ‘long tail’ of little jobs at the end of any build, so I think we still had people coming in to finish bits and pieces in August and even September. 

” We were initially quoted £43,800, but there were lots of extras, eg £2K for removing a chimney breast, £3,800 to raise the steels into the ceiling, £7K for the doors / windows. etc. “

RK:  Did you remain with the original budget?  
LD:  We deliberately overbudgeted for everything and had a contingency built in, so we were technically within budget.  Still, we spent an eyewatering amount!  The basic build was what we were initially quoted (?43,800) but there were lots of extras, eg ?2K for removing a chimney breast, ?3,800 to raise the steels into the ceiling, ?7K for the doors/windows etc.  The main building costs, including a party wall surveyor, fees, plumbing and electrics, new boiler etc. came to just over ?75K.  Then there was the cost of the finishing team and all the fixtures and fittings on top. 

RK:  How does the extension respond to the landscape?  
LD:  I’m thrilled that we’ve managed to make accessing the back garden much easier, its a clich?, but it really has opened it up and brought the outside inside.  I’ve had so much pleasure sitting and looking out over the garden over the last year.

RK:  Is the finished space everything you hoped it would be?  
LD:  Yes, its quite a pressure to design your dream kitchen from scratch, having never done it before, but we’d spent a lot of time planning it, and in the end, it was exactly what we wanted.  I don’t think there’s anything I would change.

RK:  Have you found a change in the way you use your kitchen?  
LD:  We all spend so much more time in it.  It’s a much more sociable space.  And it’s been a lifesaver during lockdown as my husband has been using it as his base to work from home.

RK:  What do you love most about it?  
LD:  sitting on the sofa in the morning with a coffee, looking out at the garden and having a few minutes of quiet before the day starts.  That was the image in my mind that kept me going throughout the difficult times in the build.  You literally couldn’t see the garden from our old kitchen unless you were standing at the sink; now its always in our sight-line, and I get so much pleasure from it.

RK:  Is there anything that you would have done differently?  
LD:  We spent a lot of time discussing the height of the floor with the builders, but somehow we still managed to get it wrong, and they had to cut down some doors in the hall as a result.  I still don’t quite understand how that happened.  But it wasn’t the end of the world.

RK:  Would you do the whole thing again?  
LD:  Not in a hurry, thank you!  I’m very happy to take some time and enjoy what we’ve got.  That said, I’m delighted we did it, so no regrets on that score.

RK:  What advice would you offer to anyone looking to renovate?  
LD:  Go with people who are recommended to you personally.  Having a good build team and project manager made all the difference to us. Also, it’s worth micro-planning how you’re going to use your kitchen.  We spent ages figuring out exactly how we wanted to arrange the cupboards, where we would stand when emptying the dishwasher, what our view would be when we were sitting on the sofa etc. and drawing out different configuration of how the kitchen would be laid out until we got it right.  Where will the cling film go?  Where will the cat’s food bowl live?  Is there enough space to get past easily if the dishwasher is open?  It’s all that attention to detail that’s paid off in how we use the kitchen now.

iBuild magazine February 2021 – Fellbrigg Road