If you love entertaining at home and want a spacious kitchen-dining-living area to suit all the family, but don’t have enough space on the ground floor, a cleverly designed basement conversion or lower ground floor extension might be just the way to create what you want.
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Your basement conversion can be an entire floor of living space devoted to the way you like to cook, relax and enjoy a meal with friends, or simply catch up with the newspaper and a cup of coffee. And, open it up to the garden with floor-to-ceiling glass doors, and the space becomes filled with natural light and summer breeze on warm days.
THE SOURCEBOOK: BASEMENTS
The Basement Information Centre 01276 33155 tbic.co.uk
BasementWorks 020 8877 0555 basementworks.co.uk
Burrell Architects 020 7092 3081 burrellarchitects.com
John Lewis 08456 049049 johnlewis.com
Kitchen Architecture 020 8785 1960 kitchenarchitecture.co.uk
Kitchens International 0131 337 3434 kitchensinternational.co.uk
London Wine Rooms 020 3384 9744 londonwinerooms.co.uk
Mountgrange Heritage 020 7221 2277 mountgrangeheritage.co.uk
Oxford & London Building Consultancy 020 8877 0526 olbc.co.uk
SolaLighting 01234 241466 solatube.co.uk
Spiral Cellars 0845 241 2768 spiralcellars.co.uk
London Basement 020 8847 9449 londonbasement.co.uk
How low can your basement go?
With space at a premium, especially in prime city areas, it may make sense to dig down to build a basement or convert a cellar to create the extra space that you need. It can be a viable alternative to the expense and hassle of moving, and a useful option if extending upwards and outwards aren’t do-able. ‘Basements can command the same square footage price as other floors in a property, as an average, and they have become far more accepted over the last few years thanks to modern engineering and design,’ says Michael Wilson, director and head of sales for London-based estate agents, Mountgrange Heritage.
How to lay out a basement?
So just how do you make the most of a basement space? First of all, consider how you arrive in the room. Can you angle the staircase so that you are thrown into the centre of the room as you descend, rather than facing a solid wall? A glass balustrade can boost the sense of space, while strategically-placed recessed wall lights can help create a smart approach.
‘Then try to keep the space as open plan as possible, to allow the available natural light to flow through the room,’ advises Kieron Bell of Kitchens International. Use the areas with the most light for the cooking and dining areas where you will spend most of your time, and those furthest from the natural light for ancillary rooms, such as laundry and utility areas, pantries and storage. Glass partitions, rather than solid walls, will ensure the best light flow through the space.
How should you organise your storage?
‘Plenty of storage is key for a clutter-free, modern design, which will instantly feel more light and spacious,’ says Andrew Hall of Woodstock Furniture. Use the space under the stairs for additional storage if you can. When it comes to the cabinetry itself, try to keep wall cupboards and tall units to a minimum and maximise the storage possibilities of base units, as this will create a more open feel.
Open shelving can make an attractive alternative to standard wall units, and feel less oppressive. ‘And an island provides ample storage without taking up wall space, and frees up walls to be used for glazing, allowing natural light to flood into the room,’ advises Colin Astridge of Kitchen Architecture.
How to add wine storage
If you are a wine enthusiast, your new basement kitchen might present an ideal opportunity to create an area devoted to your collection. Wine likes to be stored in cool conditions with balanced humidity, avoiding fluctuations in temperature and away from direct sunlight, so a wine zone can be a clever way to make use of the darkest areas of the basement. Choose from a simple wine cabinet to a visually-striking conditioned room, separated from the main kitchen dining space by an insulated glass wall, with built-in refrigeration unit.