A well thought out lighting scheme will give your new space great atmosphere, allowing you to use different combinations of circuits for different activities. Independent control of each circuit using dimmer switches or smart switches with present options is essential.
As well as ambient lighting to provide basic background light for everyday activities, include accent lighting in the form of directional spotlights, uplights, downlights, wall washes, baffled (concealed source) lights, table lamps and standard lamps to create light and shade, which is key for atmosphere. Add decorative lamps, for instance, above a kitchen island or dining table as feature lighting as featured below in our Belgravia Mews project completed late 2017.
Contemporary extensions with glass walls, polished stone or concrete floors and crisp, clean lines can look fantastic, but they can also create acoustic problems as sound reverberates from one solid flat surface to another. Such problems need to be overcome by introducing soft sound-absorbent materials into the room.
However, rugs, curtains and soft furniture are not always appropriate —in a dining or kitchen area, for instance. An alternative is to fit some form of acoustic panels. These can be fitted to the walls as textured profiled panels like wall art, or flat panels printed with any chosen image.
Position window openings to frame the best views and to improve privacy by screening off any unsightly external features or neighbouring properties. Options include projecting bay windows and oriel windows set at an angle, with one or both reveals designed to act as a blinker.
Think about the shape of the window and the height of the cill, too — narrow elongated windows can create wonderful panoramic aspects, or be designed to frame a particular landscape view. Low-level windows can be effective at creating views when sitting or lying in bed.
If you are looking to create a contemporary designer kitchen in your extension but don’t have the budget for a bespoke boutique design, create your own using modular units from suppliers, combined with end panels, worktops and other features sourced elsewhere to recreate the same look. Below is an image from our Knightsbridge Mews project.
Most trade suppliers do not offer panels large enough to create big islands or floor-to-ceiling banks of units to form an ‘appliance wall’, without obvious joints. You can overcome this by buying large sheets of MFC (melamine-faced chipboard) in a matching or complementary finish from a specialist together with matching iron-on edging strips. Sliding metal timber unit doors to suit standard-size cupboard units are also available from CK Kitchens.
Where the garden is large enough, an annexe might well prove a more sensible and manageable solution than extending the existing house. A garden building might provide additional games space, but would be much more exciting as self-sufficient accommodation, providing kitchen, bedroom and bathroom spaces.
Cantilevering is a useful device for creating design features such as balconies, mezzanines or whole storeys that project out from the floor below and appear to float with no visible means of support. A cantilevered ground floor slab can also be a very useful way of extending over an area where conventional foundations are prohibited due to obstacles such as mains services, allowing an extension to be built where it would otherwise be prohibited.
If you decide to go for a new staircase, consider making it a key design feature. Options include floating cantilevered treads, open treads, glass or metal balustrading, galleried landings, sweeping curves and spirals. It is probably the best opportunity to create an exciting architectural feature in the home as illustrated in our Belgravia Mews project below.
Instead of building an extension to match your property’s existing architectural style, the project can become part of an overall redesign scheme that completely transforms your home’s appearance. This is a good technique for adding character and value to buildings that are bland, utilitarian, unfashionable, or which have been extended unsympathetically in the past.
Much remodelling work can be done under Permitted Development rights, and therefore does not require planning permission.
A vaulted ceiling with exposed oak beams makes a great design feature that gives a room instant character — ideal for a kitchen, sitting room or master bedroom. An entirely oak frame extension is ideally suited to a rustic-style property such as a cottage or farmhouse, or an Arts & Crafts home.
A cost-effective option is to combine an oak frame principal roof structure (principal rafters, collar, tie beams, braces, ridge and purlins) but with softwood rafters — the latter hidden behind plasterboard and insulation. This structure can be built over walls made from masonry, structural insulated panels (SIPs) or any other construction system.
Bring daylight into your extension from more than one direction to add multiple layers of light and shade, greatly enhancing the quality of space. As well as maximising window and glazed door openings, consider options to introduce banks of rooflights, a roof lantern or a clerestory – a row of windows set just below ceiling level and above the eye level – all of which overcome issues of privacy.
At Piperhill, one of London’s leading construction companies, we pride ourselves in being qualified and experienced to undertake all aspects of work; from new build, basement construction, refurbishment and luxury interior fit out, through to fully integrated services and first class designer finishes. Whether working within design and build or traditional contracts, our unfailing aim is to satisfy all of our clients and their consultants requirements and to produce the highest quality finished project.
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