PLAN­NING AD­VICE From ar­chi­tect Greg Toon

Gain­ing much-needed ex­tra space and higher ceil­ings up­stairs doesn’t have to mean rais­ing the roof, says Greg Toon

House Beautiful (UK) - - CONTENTS -

In­creas­ing space on a ground floor is easy – sim­ply knock down walls to cre­ate an airy open-plan lay­out. But how do you do it up­stairs, when you’re faced with sloped roofs, cor­ri­dors and sep­a­rate bed­rooms? Ch­eryl Avery,

53, and her hus­band Peter, 49, face this dilemma at their four-bed­room home in Chor­ley­wood, Hert­ford­shire. Ch­eryl, a se­nior civil ser­vant, and Peter, head of bids for an en­gi­neer­ing com­pany, have al­ready ren­o­vated the ground floor to open it up. Now their daugh­ter, Mimi, has started univer­sity, they want to cre­ate more room up­stairs.



The house has four bed­rooms, a small study, a fam­ily bath­room and an en­suite. Three bed­rooms, in­clud­ing Ch­eryl and Peter’s mas­ter suite, are at the front. Their en­suite is on the far left, un­der the sloped roof and with re­stricted head height. At the rear are the fam­ily bath­room (also un­der the slope), the study, the stair­case and an­other bed­room.

A land­ing cor­ri­dor be­hind the mas­ter suite links the three other bed­rooms with the fam­ily bath­room. Two of these bed­rooms are sin­gles, and as Mimi is mov­ing out, Ch­eryl and Peter are open to re­duc­ing the num­ber of rooms to gain space. It would be crazy to turn this into a two-bed­room home, so I’m re­luc­tant to re­move more than one sin­gle bed­room, es­pe­cially as they’re so small, we wouldn’t gain much space. The key to a more dra­matic trans­for­ma­tion is re­mov­ing the wasted cor­ri­dor space and the sloped roofs.

My pro­posal in­volves in­stalling a small side dormer, which I know may not be pop­u­lar as they can make a house look lop­sided and, done badly, blight the streetscape. In this de­sign, how­ever, the side dormer is dis­creet: it’s set back from the front and rear, and takes up less than a third of the height

of the roof slope. Clad in char­coal-coloured zinc, it aims to prove the the­ory that darker el­e­ments ap­pear smaller. From street level, es­pe­cially with the rear back­drop of gar­den trees, it would prob­a­bly go un­no­ticed by passers-by.

The dormer turns the spa­ces with slop­ing roofs into full-height rooms, al­low­ing for re­jig­ging.

The ex­ist­ing en­suite would be­come the walk-in wardrobe Ch­eryl and Peter have al­ways wanted, and with a new open­ing on the room’s back wall, the ex­ist­ing fam­ily bath­room be­comes their en­suite. These ar­eas sit un­der the dormer, which is fit­ted with large roof lights to flood them with day­light. This also does away with the cor­ri­dor.

That bath­room is moved to the mid­dle of the front of the house, tak­ing the place of the fourth bed­room. And with the back cor­ri­dor re­moved, even the tiny study gets a bit big­ger, as it gains space that was pre­vi­ously part of the land­ing.

The re­sult is an ef­fi­cient lay­out and a much grander mas­ter bed­room, which should give the cou­ple the same spa­cious feel­ing up­stairs they have on the ground floor.


As ex­ten­sions go, dorm­ers rep­re­sent ex­cel­lent value for money. Made from tim­ber, they usu­ally don’t re­quire in­ten­sive struc­tural work. The down­side is that they can be ugly, so it pays to de­sign them nicely, us­ing high-end ma­te­ri­als and avoid­ing white fas­cias and plas­tic gut­ter­ing.

Adding a small side dormer to a slop­ing roof will raise head height and cre­ate a more use­ful space

Greg Toon Ar­chi­tect and founder of ar­chi­tec­tural prac­ticePo­ten­tial etc…

BE­FORE ABOVE With dorm­ers in­stalled, there’s now ex­tra space for a walk-in wardrobe, and the fam­ily bath­room can be­come an en­suite. This so­lu­tion does away with the cor­ri­dor too


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