Award winning home extension that works just as well as it looks
This stunning kitchen extension has just won a RIBA White Rose Award. Sharon Dale reveals why it wowed the judges.
WHEN Karen and Chris Horsefield bought a Victorian semi in Sheffield seven years ago, they were keen to make the house their own
After a flurry of decorating and revamping they were left with just one area to transform.
It was one of the most important areas of the house but the dark kitchen, housed in a 1970s flat-roofed extension, presented such a conundrum it took them three years to decide what to do with it.
“It was the Cinderella of the house,” says Karen.
“It was dark and looked like a sauna with lacquered pine units and a low, wood clad ceiling. Its small windows looked out at a double garage and driveway.
“It was completely out of kilter with the rest of the house that boasts high ceilings and original period features. What we really wanted was kitchen area that was easy to cook in and sociable, meeting the needs of everyday family life as well as being perfect for entertaining.”
The couple, who have three young children, finally called in Howard Evans, of Prue Chiles Architects.
Howard suggested demolishing the 1970s extension and reusing the stone to create a new structure that would be more sympathetic to the original house.
Inside, his plans depicted a contemporary kitchen dining room that maximised every opportunity to flood the space with natural light via roof lights, picture windows and bi-fold doors.
“The room is now defined by a roofscape that follows the lines of the traditional roof planes whilst large scale sculptural rooflights break through, capturing views of the sky and the original building,” says Howard.
“The resulting space feels at one with the statuesque reception rooms of the original Victorian house but is uncompromisingly modern. The material palette is kept simple, using timber to define the kitchen space whilst a diamond cut stone floor runs from inside to out. The space is dominated by a large, black concrete island unit that is echoed at roof level by a large sculptural rooflight.
“Externally, the material palette re-uses the existing stone and slate, instantly ageing the building. Crisp detailing of the new elements, such as windows and the roof edge accentuates the contemporary feel of the extension.
“The windows are designed to maximise light into the room and the frames are kept minimal to create an almost frameless feel from the inside.”
The extension was constructed by local builder John Sunter and his team of specialist masons and roofers and took about eight months, which gave Karen and Chris an opportunity to rationalise their belongings.
“We used the utility room as a temporary kitchen and it turned out to be a great exercise.
“We realised we didn’t need any more than four or five pans and we certainly didn’t need loads of serving bowls,” says Karen.
Their slimmed down collection of kitchen paraphernalia fits perfectly into the new units from Sheffield-based Kitchen Creation, which were fitted to a design by Howard and Karen.
The cooking area is configured like a galley kitchen, with storage, a pull-out larder cupboard, Aga and fridge along one wall. A large island runs parallel and houses drawers for crockery and pans, the sink, dishwasher and cookbooks.
“The design means that everything is at hand whether you’re cooking or unloading the dishwasher. It also enables children or guests to sit across from the cook on the other side of the island,” says Karen.
The dining table is placed beneath the large picture window so diners have a view through this and the bi-fold doors into the new courtyard garden that replaced the garage and driveway.
The sandstone kitchen floor runs onto the patio so when the doors open there’s a sense of continuity and of bringing the outside in.
Clever ideas like this that enhance the kitchen and there are lots more, including the airbrick ventilated larder, storage drawers under the built-in bench for children’s craft materials and LED lights in the skylights.
Karen says: “Howard brilliantly answered our objectives. The kitchen is all we hoped for and much more.
“It’s a space that everyone likes to spend time in, day and night. The design itself is stunning; even before the addition of fixtures and fittings it was a beautiful space.
“Throughout the process from design to completion, Howard has been very involved, paying regular site visits and responding to problems with good humour and professionalism.
“He even responded to my emails asking for his input on paint colours and light fittings.”
The project cost around £60,000, including the new courtyard, and although Karen and Chris splashed out on some items, including the Artemide spiral light from David Village, they saved in other areas.
The Aga cooker was reconditioned and bought from J. Wray in Catterick.
There has never been any doubt that it was money well spent but further confirmation came recently when the extension won a RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) White Rose award.
“What started life as a Sixties box and the worst part of the house is now the best room we’ve got,” says Karen.
ROOM SERVICE: The extension is now a light-filled, contemporary space that the Horsefield family love to spend time in. It doesn’t just look good either. The room is practical and ergonomic