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Kitchen Extensions: How to Plan and Design Your Kitchen Extension

If you’re building a kitchen extension because you’ve set your heart on creating a large open-plan kitchen diner, and perhaps even living space, it’s a good idea to start with its ideal design, then move on to the practicalities of planning the extension, and considering the cost. Planning the kitchen extension’s design will allow you to consider how your life could be improved with a simple change of layout, the introduction of natural light and the addition of appliances designed to make your life easier. And this is especially true in summer, when the room might be regularly open to, and connected with, the garden. Planning a kitchen extension is, of course, about appointing a builder or architect and getting planning permission, but before you start, get a feel for how large the extension will be – you can do this by working out what you need from it. Follow the steps below to make sure your kitchen extension is designed and planned properly.

Planning a Kitchen Extension

The amount of space you need for your kitchen extension will depend on how you plan to use it, so start here. There’s no point in spending money on an extension that is too small; too big, and the room will be out of proportion to the rest of your home.
Generally, the kitchen is the heart of family life and the room we spend most time in — cooking, eating, socialising, working and relaxing — and an open-plan (or semi-open-plan) space is often the best way to use the new extension. The key to creating the perfect open-plan kitchen is getting the space and the layout right first, before deciding on kitchen units, design details and decoration later. Read more below about designing a kitchen within an extension, but before you do, write a list of all the features that you already have in your kitchen, then add the features and appliances that you wish to add to the space. Kitchen extension essentials:
  • Kitchen as proportion of extension
  • Kitchen island unit
  • Breakfast bar
  • Dining area as proportion of extension
  • Seating area as proportion of extension
  • Walk-in larder
  • American-style fridge-freezer
  • Range cooker
  • Washing machine
  • Dryer
  • Separate utility room
  • Store room
  • Bi-fold doors
  • Outdoor dining area immediately outside

Decide Where to Place the Kitchen Extension

If you’re looking to create an additional space for a large, open-plan family kitchen, the first step is to assess which area of your home will benefit the most from an extension. You could extend at the rear or side of your home to gain extra space; in a terraced house, a side return extension might be all you need to be able to create the kitchen of your dreams. In a townhouse, it may make sense to do a basement conversion, with a light well leading up to the garden. Small extensions to a house may not need planning permission if they fall within the definition of permitted development. Larger extensions, or additions to a flat, always need planning permission. Alterations to a listed building always require listed building consent, whether or not the work is permitted development. Extending to the rear of your property? No extension should overly compromise the garden, so try to find a balance between creating a workable space indoors and retaining as much outdoor space as possible. A good architect will help and advise with this, but if you’re unsure, try to visit as many homes with extensions as possible to see what works, and what doesn’t. Check out our feature on creating an indoor outdoor living space, too.

Find a Good Architect

Once you’re decided where you’d like your extension to be located, consult a registered architect to find out what can be achieved. You will need plans and construction drawings for the builder, and to show compliance with building regulations. Work with an architect or architectural technologist to provide these. They can also inspire you with design solutions that you may not have considered. Hire someone who specialises in homeowner projects and get them to do a small amount of paid-for work, such as a sketch design, to see if they are the right person for the job.

How Long Should an Extension Take?

It really depends on the scale of the project, difficulties accessing the site, how bespoke the kitchen extension is and how well run your schedule is… but expect the average kitchen extension to take between 10 to 12 weeks. Some will be quicker, others slower.

Designing a Kitchen Extension

Designing a kitchen extension is all about the detail, and for this you might need help: from an architect, a builder and, without doubt, a kitchen designer. But don’t just think about looks – design your kitchen extension equally for functionality. Here’s how.

Prepare a Detailed Kitchen Extension Design Brief

Let your designer know what you want. ‘A common mistake is to brief your architect with a set of constraints without talking through the possibilities,’ explains architect Hugo Tugman. ‘When I work with a homeowner, I discuss the brief and sketch designs around their kitchen table, to involve them and ensure that what I am creating fits their needs and lifestyle.’

How Will You Access Your Kitchen Extension?

‘As one of the principal spaces in your home, the kitchen should ideally be accessible from the main hallway and not through another room,’ says property expert Michael Holmes. ‘Typically, extensions are added to the side or rear of a property to maximise links with the garden as well as create extra space internally.’ Ideally, this transition should be as seamless as possible, something which can be achieved by good layout planning, and matching interior detailing and materials, including flooring and skirting boards, for example. You may be able to achieve the best space possible by remodelling the existing interior layout, perhaps removing internal walls to link two rooms together, or by converting and linking an integral garage.

Consider a Conservatory Kitchen Extension

This is a popular way to bring lots of light into a kitchen extension. What to bear in mind, other than ensuring you comply with planning laws and building regulations? Ensure the glazing is up to the job – both in winter and summer – of keeping the kitchen at the right temperature; if you’re going to have remote controlled blinds fitted, bear in mind that they will gather dirt and grease from cooking over time so need to be easily cleaned; leave enough solid wall for fittings and fixtures to hang off; make sure any entrances and exits to the room aren’t going to interfere with the cooking zones; and give the best views over the garden from any dining or living space.

Think About the Exterior

Consider, too, how your planned extension will look from outside. Just as you might match the detailing and materials inside to those of the original house to create a seamless transition from the existing space to the new, choosing materials that match those of your home’s exterior will make the new extension blend successfully. Or, perhaps you might like to site your new kitchen in a traditional-style orangery, or go for contrast, such as with a glass box extension, for a contemporary finish?

Planning the Layout

Once you have the space that you want designed, you can start thinking about the kitchen layout – our ultimate guide to designing a kitchen is a helpful starting point. It is worth consulting two or three experienced kitchen designers for their ideas. Make sure you give them a clear brief of what you are trying to achieve, but listen to their advice in terms of layout to suit the space, such as designing a galley, L-shaped or U-shaped layout. Or introducing a kitchen island or appliance wall. Generally, though, it’s best to site the kitchen towards the back end of the extension, nearest the original part of the house, with living and dining spaces nearer the brighter, garden end of the space. Other things to consider include:
  • Will you have floor to ceiling cabinetry to hide away a small utility space or will you factor in a separate utility room?
  • Will building cabinetry within an adjoining hallway to match that of the run of units into the kitchen allow for useful under stairs storage or a concealed under stairs cloakroom?
  • Will you choose integrated, hidden appliances for a streamlined look or will they be on show?
  • Will you use the extension as an opportunity to incorporate features such as roof lights or a vaulted ceiling, or both?
When you have finalised your layout and chosen your supplier, the designer will be able to produce detailed wiring and plumbing plans so the builders can put the services in place during the building phase. You can then have the plastering and decorating work done and the flooring laid, ready for the kitchen installers to arrive. Need more inspiration or help with planning your kitchen extension? Contact our friendly team today at 084 406 3637 or carlize@earledesign.co.za.

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