Bril­liant Ren­o­va­tion Ideas

No mat­ter how much re­search you carry out, a ren­o­va­tion project is some­thing of a step into the un­known. Old houses need more in the way of in­ge­nu­ity and cre­ativ­ity when it comes to sen­si­tively trans­form­ing them into some­thing suit­able for modern-day livi

Homebuilding & Renovating - - CONTENTS -

the Vo­lu­mi­nous space

A ren­o­va­tion project can of­fer scope to max­imise po­ten­tial in an ex­ist­ing home, but we of­ten think in terms of floorspace, with the space above of­ten over­looked.

This con­tem­po­rary home is now un­recog­nis­able from the cramped 1930s bun­ga­low from which it orig­i­nated. By in­clud­ing pic­ture win­dows, strate­gi­cally placed rooflights and soar­ing vaulted ceil­ings, this sin­gle-storey home feels airy and spa­cious. Keep­ing in­ter­nal walls to a min­i­mum fur­ther en­hances the sense of space.

the sup­port­ing post

In re­sponse to the clients’ wishes for a home that had an “in­dus­trial aes­thetic”, a spa­cious feel and plenty of nat­u­ral light, Granit Ar­chi­tec­ture + In­te­ri­ors ( has cre­ated a con­tem­po­rary ex­ten­sion to the side and rear of this prop­erty that in­cor­po­rates fea­tures to ful­fil the brief.

A re­claimed col­umn, orig­i­nally from an old band­stand, pro­vides struc­tural sup­port and has re­moved the need for a load-bear­ing wall. It’s an ex­am­ple of how a key part of the struc­ture can play an aes­thetic role, too.

Full-width steel framed doors span­ning the rear of the house fur­ther add to the in­dus­trial feel of the space, as do ex­posed brick walls.

the ‘bro­ken plan’

Go­ing the whole hog with an open plan lay­out is not for ev­ery­one. While com­pletely open plan ar­eas un­doubt­edly make the most of smaller spa­ces and en­sure light can flow from one space to an­other, they can make it hard to cre­ate more pri­vate, in­ti­mate ar­eas in ren­o­va­tion projects. This is where ‘bro­ken plan’ comes in — lay­outs that are both open, yet zoned through the im­ple­men­ta­tion of par­tial walls, in­ter­nal win­dows and room di­vides (as shown in this ter­raced home re­mod­elling scheme, de­signed by Archer + Braun). This is a strat­egy that works in large and com­pact homes alike.

the twisted roof

The front of this pretty Grade II-listed cot­tage in Nor­folk gives no clue to the more rad­i­cal rear ex­ten­sion — which in­cludes a fine ex­am­ple of how ren­o­va­tions can re­sult in some of the most in­ven­tive and strik­ing so­lu­tions.

Here, the twisted roof of the new ex­ten­sion was a so­lu­tion borne out of the de­sire to re­tain the rear bed­room win­dow while in­cor­po­rat­ing a new stair­case, as ar­chi­tect Tom Allen ex­plains: “I needed to get a roof in that would miss the win­dow at the back and have suf­fi­cient head height as you go up the stairs — and that is where the twist­ing roof de­sign evolved from.”

The roof is ac­tu­ally a stan­dard warm deck roof con­struc­tion, with soft­wood ceil­ing joists and rafters, but, un­usu­ally, each rafter has a slightly dif­fer­ent pitch in or­der to ac­com­mo­date the twist­ing el­e­ment.

In place of stan­dard sheets of ply over the rafters and joists, there are three lay­ers of 6mm ply that have been glued and lam­i­nated in place to form a strong, curved con­struc­tion — sim­i­lar to the hull of a ship. The in­su­la­tion too is a se­ries of built-up lay­ers, with a sin­gle-ply mem­brane over the top.

the bi­fold al­ter­na­tiVe

De­signed by Granit Ar­chi­tec­ture + In­te­ri­ors, this typ­i­cal Vic­to­rian ter­race has been trans­formed by a new rear and side ex­ten­sion. Keen to bring more nat­u­ral light into the space, but look­ing for some­thing a lit­tle dif­fer­ent to the usual bi­fold or slid­ing doors, a huge run of steel-framed win­dows and doors has been in­tro­duced, along with a se­ries of large rooflights above.

built-in join­ery

Not all rooms are square — par­tic­u­larly in ren­o­va­tion projects. While this is un­doubt­edly part of their charm, it can make find­ing fur­ni­ture that fits and makes the most of the avail­able space a lit­tle tricky.

Built-in fur­ni­ture of­ten works far bet­ter in awk­ward spa­ces, such as those with un­even walls and slop­ing ceil­ings, en­sur­ing ev­ery last nook and cranny is taken into ac­count and made use of.

In or­der to squeeze as much us­able space out of this bed­room as pos­si­ble, bunk beds, with stor­age be­neath, have been built in, en­sur­ing that the space af­forded by the vaulted ceil­ings has been

fully taken ad­van­tage of.

“A huge run of steel framed win­dows and doors has been in­tro­duced”

“The sen­si­tive na­ture of the listed build­ings meant open­ings couldn’t just be bricked up”

ex­ist­ing open­ings trans­formed

Modern-day oc­cu­pants of old houses usu­ally want very dif­fer­ent things from their home than the orig­i­nal own­ers. En­sur­ing a pe­riod house works as a dwelling for its 21st-cen­tury in­hab­i­tants, with­out com­pro­mis­ing its orig­i­nal char­ac­ter is a real chal­lenge. Both of these prop­er­ties fea­tured open­ings that were no longer re­quired, yet the sen­si­tive na­ture of the listed build­ings meant the open­ings couldn’t just be bricked-up.

Ar­chi­tect and owner Sean Peel (guy­tay­lor as­so­ cre­ated a shut­ter-style fea­ture within the now de­funct orig­i­nal door­ways of his home (above), formerly three farm­work­ers’ cot­tages. Along with look­ing strik­ing, the de­sign of­fers pri­vacy, ob­scur­ing the view into the house from the road, while al­low­ing nat­u­ral light in.

In the case of the derelict, barely stand­ing barn (right), three door­ways were no longer re­quired, yet the Grade II list­ing of the prop­erty, along with the own­ers’ wishes to work with what they had, meant a clever so­lu­tion was re­quired.

Erected in 1836, the de­sign for the ren­o­va­tion and con­ver­sion of this barn (by David Nossiter Ar­chi­tects) re­tained all of the large agri­cul­tural open­ings. Three dif­fer­ent glaz­ing com­pa­nies were ap­pointed to in­stall be­spoke glaz­ing within the orig­i­nal open­ings, in­clud­ing a swathe of slid­ing doors. Else­where, sim­ple fixed panes of glass

en­sure the once dark space is full of nat­u­ral light.

the glass link

Us­ing a glazed link to con­nect old and new sec­tions of a house that’s be­ing ex­tended is an in­creas­ingly pop­u­lar de­sign fea­ture. A glass link­ing sec­tion can pro­vide a dis­tinct junc­tion be­tween two sec­tions of a house, as well as bring in pock­ets of light to oth­er­wise dark, old prop­er­ties. When look­ing at how to con­nect the old and new el­e­ments of this stone cot­tage (left), the own­ers and their ar­chi­tect (casa-ar­chi­ took into ac­count their need for a new, open hall­way and stairs, and com­bined this need with a prac­ti­cal ap­proach to link­ing the sec­tions. Mean­while this glazed link, de­signed by Adam Knibb of Adam Knibb Ar­chi­tects, joins to­gether the orig­i­nal Grade II-listed for­mer barn with a tim­ber-clad, con­tem­po­rary ex­ten­sion (be­low), and has many clever de­sign fea­tures. The link ad­dresses the dif­fer­ence in floor lev­els be­tween the old and new sec­tions, brings in light and gives views of the gar­den. The top of the link is set at a slight an­gle to en­sure rain­wa­ter runs off. Fi­nally, this cot­tage (bot­tom left) has an unashamedly modern ex­ten­sion, with the tran­si­tion be­tween the two nav­i­gated through the use of a glazed link. Within the link sits a stair­case with a steel ‘bridge’ above to phys­i­cally link the two sec­tions.

“A glass link­ing sec­tion can pro­vide a dis­tinct junc­tion be­tween two sec­tions of a house”

ex­pos­ing the orig­i­nal fab­ric

Ex­pos­ing the orig­i­nal fab­ric of an old home, or sal­vaging ma­te­ri­als, can not only bring char­ac­ter to the in­te­ri­ors of a ren­o­va­tion project, but can also be a pleas­ing nod to the his­tory of the build­ing — as this ex­posed tim­ber frame goes to show.

On the verge of col­lapse when work started on the ex­ten­sion and con­ver­sion of this Grade II-listed barn, the lo­cal con­ser­va­tion of­fi­cer gave ap­proval for the old­est part of the struc­ture to be dis­man­tled, pro­vid­ing as much as pos­si­ble of the orig­i­nal oak frame was sal­vaged and reused.

Bor­der Oak (bor­ car­ried out the del­i­cate task of dis­man­tling and re­build­ing the barn. While some of the tim­bers could be used struc­turally, those that were in too poor a state of re­pair have been used for dec­o­ra­tive pur­poses.

“As much as pos­si­ble of the orig­i­nal oak frame was sal­vaged and re­stored”

“A re­claimed col­umn from an old band­stand pro­vides struc­tural sup­port”

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