If there is anything that separates the ideal 21st century house from the 20th century terraces that so many of us live in, it’s the desire for a big flexible family space. This has led to a growing trend for kitchen extensions and open plan living spaces that can be used for a range of different purposes.
So where do you start? Often the first step is to gain an understanding of what design options are available, the likely costs and pitfalls, an idea on timeline and a high level understanding of what is required by way of planning and building regulations. The decisions that are made upfront obviously impact the whole process and will form the framework of how you approach the rest of your project.
As part of the design process for your kitchen extension you will need to consider:
Planning permission / Permitted Development
You will need to determine if your project will need a planning application or whether you will be able to do the work under permitted development (an automatic planning right). This will depend on various factors including the size of your extension, locality of neighbours, restrictions such as conservation areas etc. An architect will be able to advise you whether you will need a planning application or not and get the relevant consents if necessary.
Another statutory requirement is the need to comply with Building Regulations. These rules govern the safety and energy efficiency of your project and cover all manner of things from staircase pitch to the amount of glass that you can use. There are two different ways to get building regulations approval but either way you will need to comply as your project will not be signed off until you have satisfied all the relevant criteria. Again your architect will be able to guide you through the rules as well as optimising the design for you.
Getting the light right is essential in any room. Natural light is always the best option if you have it. There are lots of different opportunities for maximizing natural light in your kitchen extension including roof lights, traditional windows and bi-fold doors. Consider which way your extension will face as this will help you maximize the amount of light that you can bring in.
Many people want open plan kitchens that act as multi-functional family spaces however this is not as easy as it sounds. Open plan spaces like this need to have ‘zones’ allocated for their different functions for example eating, cooking, watching TV. Making sure these spaces work together is critical to the success of your kitchen extension so make sure you plan them out carefully.
One of the main functions of a kitchen is storage so it’s worth giving this careful consideration. Its not all about kitchen cabinets either – think creatively about your storage. Open shelves can be a great way to display items and think about different heights – if you have small children there may be things that you want them to be able to access and things that you don’t. As always the success of this is in the planning.