The fine semi-detached Villa’s of Belsize Park, North London are closely built houses. Separated by only the small side passages between them they conceal almost secret garden environments beyond. Only the neighbouring houses seemingly form a boundary to the gardens, which are long, wide and mature in foliage. This is the setting for our latest full house refurbishment.
The red-bricked house is a well-proportioned five-bedroom property. The upper floors have been remodeled to remove previous compromises to the bedrooms and each is provided with ensuite bathrooms. The rooms to ground floor are generously proportioned but, as with most Victorian houses, the existing kitchen is too small and only a modest sink window offered a glimpse of the garden beyond.
The client wanted the house to feel better connected to the garden.
An accordion arrangement is explored as a concept for the extension. A series of angled facets have been used to establish a notional hierarchy to the kitchen. Expressed as solid and void walls the facets provide a level of transparency and privacy between the house, garden and the neighbours beyond.
The staggered configuration of the extension creates framed views of the garden and provides a unique architectural solution for an extension and avoids an uninspired full width house extension.
The shift in geometry allows the extension to reveal a series of layered materials to reach out and touch the garden, all contained beneath the asymmetrical roof form. The roof is formed in timber and painted with a special Swedish preservative paint treatment that produces a beautiful matt red finish. The roof projects beyond the building edge to provide a simple solar shading device to the southeasterly aspect of the extension.
A stepped plinth of York stone provides a new garden terrace at the level of the lawn. The rear bay window of the house has been retained however the heavy brick supporting piers have been removed to allow more natural daylight in through the new fully glazed sliding doors to the rear lounge.
Access to the kitchen remains from the dining room. The archway has been enlarged to create a generous connection with the house and provides the first framed view of the garden as you enter the kitchen.
The new kitchen enjoys a longer and wider footprint than the original. A new frameless window punctures the opposing wall to provide additional views across the gardens to the north.
Internally a feature is made of the ceiling, which is expressed as partially exposed timber joists. The joists have been doubled up to discreetly incorporate LED strip lighting providing a uniform lighting level throughout.
Exposed brickwork walls compliment the subtle warmth of the bespoke kitchen design. Continuous under-counter units run the length of the kitchen. To avoid feeling spatially constricted high-level cupboards have been kept to a minimum. The kitchen island is centrally located and is served from both sides.
Overlooking the garden, the table beyond, is perfectly located for breakfast as the sun rises from the east.