Neighbours so loved Fred and Laura Guttfield’s Victorian terrace extension they asked for one just the same. Right, said Fred. By
SOME new ideas are so good you wonder why everyone doesn’t do it. In classic commuter belt Twyford, Berkshire, just 40 minutes from Paddington, architect Fred Guttfield has built a steeply angled extension on the back of his Victorian three-bedroom terrace house. Fred and his wife Laura, who works in HR, live in a conservation area.
The terrace is in traditional wire-cut red brick. When the neighbouring couple, who were away during the build, came home to see the smart pitched extension with its huge sliding windows to the garden, and big airy kitchen-living room replacing a poky, cramped kitchen dogleg, they promptly asked Fred, 32, to design them a mirror-image extension on their own home.
The resulting symmetrical pair are now nicknamed the Berkshire Twins. Instead of being the usual hodgepodge of extensions we’re all used to seeing, this snappy double act raises the value of the individual properties more than any mismatched extensions ever could. Each extension adds 20 per cent more space as well as creating a fourth bedroom and a second bathroom out of pre-existing space. The two homes were extended and fully refurbished two years apart, all on tight budgets. The Guttfields made constant tough decisions on prices and Laura, 36, did the sourcing. Their own extension came in at £90,000, with no fees and Fred doubling as a builder and the contractor, and the work for neighbours Nasima and Gareth Dunne was £145,000.
The Guttfields made the now-classic decision of marrying Ikea kitchen carcasses with expensive worktops. Fred designed the smart open storage racks in their kitchen and the very covetable modern dining table. Their white goods came from a budget supplier.
With Fred running the project and mucking in with the builders, their extension was done in a super-fast four months. He enjoyed it, while learning new skills, and how to organise things efficiently — all invaluable to an architect and to their clients. “I get a real buzz out of seeing how good design changes people’s lives,” he says. The couple met online in 2010 while both renting. Engaged in 2011, they soon realised that they were priced out of anything except a small flat. So they went house-hunting further afield. Because their two families are west, and because Fred likes fish each weekend they took a Great Wes train along the river to a different stat got off, and looked around. The
Matchy-matchy: Fred and Laura with next-door neighbour Nasima Dunne