These cottage extension ideas will make these charming but sometimes space-challenged homes more conducive to modern living. A sensitive and well-thought through cottage addition can make the world of difference to the way you use your home, while also adding value.
However, it is vital to ensure that you do not compromise your cottage's original charm, preserving fireplaces and rustic features. 'Sometimes just adding on a very modest extension, such as filling in the side-return, and reconfiguring the room's layout, can be transformative' says Period Living editor, Melanie Griffiths.
So if you're wondering where to start with designing a cottage extension, we've rounded up a host of ideas to get you started, from modern glass box extensions to traditional thatched designs.
See: Cottage decorating ideas – charming ways to get a characterful look
1. Opt for oak for a traditional and sensitive cottage addition
'Extending a cottage with an oak frame has many advantages – not only does a green oak frame provide character, texture and an ageless charm, but it also suits most styles of cottage and is inherently flexible.' says Merry Albright, creative director at Border Oak.
'Oak framed extensions are also self supporting and so can be designed to sit against the host house without needing complicated or expensive "tying in" from a structural perspective. This can be crucial as load bearing or disrupting the structure of an older cottage can be a step into the unknown with significant cost implications.'
2. Create contrast with a modern glass box cottage extension
It is often assumed that cottage extensions should seamlessly blend in to the original. However, this is difficult to achieve and very rarely results in an invisible joining of old and new. Instead, it is becoming more popular, both for homeowners and planners, to opt for ultra-modern glazed designs that showcase how the property has evolved over time.
This stunning addition to a 400 year old cottage shows a clear separation between old and new. By replicating the architecture of the cottage's gable end, this sleek, modern glazed design still pays homage to the original house's elegance. Plus, as it is attached by a simple glazed link, it can also easily be removed in the future without impacting the historic home.
This feature was created by H&G's sister brand, Period Living magazine
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3. Build up to create an extra bedroom
A two-story cottage extension is a more significant addition which may need permission before building works begins. However, it can completely transform your home providing an extra bedroom, ensuite or upstairs bathroom – all of which will add value to your cottage in the long run as well as making it a much more versatile space.
See: Cottage bedroom ideas – design inspiration for cozy restful spaces
4. Create a kitchen perfect for entertaining
Cottage kitchens are renowned for being small, dark and unwelcoming, so transform yours into a bright and airy space with a simple cottage extension. If your kitchen faces the garden, extending outwards or into a side return is relatively straightforward and will make a huge difference to the usability of the space.
Adding floor to ceiling glazing and patio doors floods the space with light and will create an ever-changing feature wall as you look onto the garden outside.
For cottage kitchen ideas, don't miss our inspiring image gallery.
5. Choose a glazed design to flood your cottage with light
You don't need to have a huge garden to introduce a glazed extension to your home. This small yet striking orangery features and impressive Victorian-style domed roof lantern, which floods the room with natural light and makes a beautiful entrance to this home.
6. Make the most of a cottage garden with glazing
Adding a conservatory, orangery or garden room is a popular way to create more space in a home, and a suitable option for enlarging a wide range of properties. Often considered a more straightforward alternative to a typical cottage extension, a glazed addition can be completely separate or a fully open-plan, and can serve as a kitchen, living or dining area.
‘Is it in character with the host building and neighbouring area?’ says Karen Bell creative director at David Salisbury. ‘Is it proportionate to the host building and, where you are building on the boundary, does it adhere to the height restrictions. In my experience, if a design looks right then it will usually be viewed favourably by the planners.’
See: Cottage garden ideas – pretty ways to embrace rustic style outdoors
7. Join your cottage to outbuildings with a glazed link
Modern in style, this glass-box linking cottage extension creates unity between the original 16th-century cottage and the more contemporary brick and wood outbuilding. The harmony between old and new is mirror through the décor and vintage pieces displayed in the linking room.
'The trend for adding large areas of glass continues with the mix of old and new grabbing the attention' says Ryan Schofield, managing director at Thames Valley Window Company.
See: Kitchen extension ideas – inspiration and expert design advice
8. Create a seamless cottage addition by matching materials
'When your house was originally constructed, it was intended to be the finished article, perfectly placed next to the surrounding properties and garden. But living standards have evolved so dramatically, that extending can sometimes be the only way to secure a home's future for decades, and hopefully centuries, to come,' says Period Living editor, Melanie Griffiths.
Create a seamless addition by using the same materials and techniques for creating the new build that were used to construct your original home. You can hardly tell that this cottage was extended, but it provides valuable extra space.
9. Take in splendid views with a glazed cottage extension
The stunning views are one of the main attractions of buying a home in the countryside. Yet cottages also have modest-sized windows and so don't make the most of the glorious surroundings. Adding a glazed extension not only floods the space with light but also offers panoramic views. Pick an aluminium design as it offers slim sight-lines, letting you make the most of the scenery, whatever the weather.
10. Consider adding a porch for a more welcoming entrance
Create a striking entrance for your home by adding a porch. This small extension creates a focal point to the front of your cottage while also adding an extra space, stopping shoes and dirt being traipsed into your home.
Be sure to opt for a design that complements your home. Here, it is nearly impossible to notice that this porch is a later addition, and the bargeboard and finals add a beautiful cottage flair.
See: Front porch ideas – pretty ways to create a strong first impression
Should I hire an architect for my cottage extension?
It is definitely a good idea to hire a skilled house designer or architect with experience of cottage extensions who will be able to look at your home and suggest layout and design ideas that might not have occurred to you previously.
They will also have experience of working with the local planning department and be familiar with all the rules and regulations, so will bring more than just architectural experience to the project.
You may think you can save money by coming up with a design yourself – and if you are adding a very modest extension you might make a success of it – but errors can be phenomenally expensive, so professionals are usually worth the cost.
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Having graduated with a first class degree in English Literature, Holly started her career as a features writer and sub-editor at Period Living magazine, Homes & Gardens' sister title. Working on Period Living brought with it insight into the complexities of owning and caring for period homes, from interior decorating through to choosing the right windows and the challenges of extending. This has led to a passion for traditional interiors, particularly the country-look. Writing for the Homes & Gardens website as a content editor, alongside regular features for Period Living and Country Homes & Interiors magazines, has enabled her to broaden her writing to incorporate her interests in gardening, wildlife and nature.
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