PLAN­NING AD­VICE How in­no­va­tive balcony win­dows could trans­form a gar­den room cut off from the great out­doors

A gar­den room that’s cut off from the great out­doors can be trans­formed with the use of in­no­va­tive balcony win­dows, says ar­chi­tect Greg Toon

House Beautiful (UK) - - CONTENTS -

Kevin and Eileen Doyles’ listed home has a lovely coun­try gar­den, which was per­fect for fam­ily life while their two sons were grow­ing up. The cou­ple, both in their early six­ties, have lived in the prop­erty in the vil­lage of Tewin, Hert­ford­shire, for 34 years and have bought an ad­join­ing piece of land, giv­ing the gar­den a park­land feel. Kevin, a re­tired com­pany di­rec­tor, and health and safety man­ager Eileen would like bet­ter views of the land­scape from their gar­den room.


Two decades ago, the cou­ple built a sep­a­rate dou­ble garage be­hind the main house, which in­cluded a gar­den room at the side. Loft space above runs along the length of the build­ing and is used as a lounge and over­spill ac­com­mo­da­tion for guests. Al­though the out­door space is beau­ti­ful, the gar­den room doesn’t make the most of it – a sta­ble door and high win­dows se­verely re­strict views. Like­wise, the up­stairs lounge and bed­room area has only a cou­ple of small roof win­dows and no mean­ing­ful views.


There’s lit­tle point hav­ing a gar­den room if you can’t ac­tu­ally see your grounds from it, es­pe­cially if it’s an out­build­ing. And if you have loft space, as Kevin and Eileen do, there’s no need to re­strict the views to ground level as you can open up the roof to take in the green­ery from above. The Doyles’ up­per level could re­ally cap­i­talise on el­e­vated vis­tas

over the gar­den, and with new fur­ni­ture it could be­come a real sanc­tu­ary. Swap­ping the bed for well-dis­guised so­fabeds would help the space look less like an af­ter­thought too.

A gi­ant box dormer along the rear roof slope would pro­vide fab­u­lous views and add more floor area, but I don’t think it would be suit­able for a listed house. The gar­den build­ing should re­main sim­ple and barn-like, with a pitched roof.

I’ve plumped for an­other so­lu­tion to achieve the views and a greater sense of space – Velux Cabrio balcony win­dows. They’re a rel­a­tively new in­no­va­tion that look like large roof win­dows when closed, and fol­low the tra­di­tional line of the pitched roof, but form a mini balcony once open. They trans­form spa­ces, mak­ing them bright and airy, and give a real sense of space, al­low­ing you to stand al­most fully out­side. As the roof is large, I’d rec­om­mend in­stalling four of these win­dow/ balcony units.

At the gable end of the build­ing, I’m us­ing a lot of glass – ide­ally struc­tural glaz­ing with­out frames – to max­imise the gar­den views. Be­cause of this, the space will get hot in sum­mer. I may not take this ap­proach for the main part of a house, and if I did, I’d work in some shad­ing. But this is an ex­tra space, so it’s a less crit­i­cal is­sue.

On the up­per level, the roof win­dows can vent the space, and on the ground floor, I’ve put in a gi­ant slid­ing timber barn door. This partly screens the ground-floor sit­ting area from glare – the door can be pulled across to suit the an­gle of the sun. It also gives enough se­cu­rity to leave win­dows open be­hind it.

Even though the room on the ground floor is small, I’ve re­sisted the urge to ex­tend, as do­ing so would mean re­duc­ing the gar­den con­nec­tion from the main house.

On the ground floor, I’ve added a kitch­enette un­der the stairs and a dou­ble-height void above them, again to re­duce heat build-up and add drama and a sense of the up­per lounge. Up­stairs, a shower room is con­cealed be­hind the li­brary shelv­ing, mak­ing this gen­uinely self-con­tained ac­com­mo­da­tion.

At the gable end of the re­vised lay­out, the new de­sign al­lows much bet­ter in­ter­ac­tion with the gar­den

Greg Toon Ar­chi­tect and founder of ar­chi­tec­tural prac­ticePo­ten­tial etc…

The up­per level of the pro­posed de­sign has balcony win­dows of­fer­ing gen­er­ous gar­den views


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