Kitchen extensions – expert ideas for planning the perfect kitchen extension

A successful kitchen extension can dramatically improve your lifestyle – and the value of your home. Whether you’re based in the town or country, there’s a solution to suit every property.

One of the most popular building projects for homeowners, kitchen extensions can create a big open-plan room with space for dining and seating. As well as adding more space it can also increase the value of your home, if you decide to sell, too.

See our Kitchen trends 2020 – these latest designs are ahead of the curve

Kitchen extension ideas

How much does a kitchen extension cost in the UK?

To determine the cost of your project, I would suggest getting a couple of contractors round to talk it through. It’s absolutely essential to get them to tell you very specifically what they’re quoting you for, because often they won’t go into detail.

Do you need planning permission for a kitchen extension?

One of the best ways to quickly check if you can extend is to take a look down your own street to see if planning permission has been granted for similar work. Talk to neighbours who have had extensions to get tips and ask if they can recommend builders, plumbers and electricians. Also visit estate agents’ websites for inspiration and check out examples of what can be done in houses similar to your own. Research of this kind will also help to show how much could be added to the value of your home if you have an extension.

Putting an extension on a listed building doesn’t mean you have to be conventional – often a deliberately contemporary addition will maintain the integrity of the historic building by its distinction. ‘An extension that jars with the existing building by being out of scale or using materials that look cheap against the historic building are unlikely to cut the mustard,’ adds Meredith. ‘A sensibility needs to be invoked that acknowledges the building and the reason for its listing.’

Kitchen extensions

Image credit: Paul Raeside

What are your options?

Answer yes to any of the questions below and you will usually be able to extend without getting planning permission first – but if you’re in doubt, check.

  • Will the total area of the extension, including any existing extensions, be less than 50% of your home’s original outside space?
  • Are you sure that there are no building restrictions where you live – for instance are you in a conservation area? – and that your home is not listed?
  • Is the extension at the side and single storey, does it have a maximum height of 4m and is it less than half the width of the original house?
  • Is the maximum depth of your rear extension no more than 3m from the rear of the original house if it is attached, or less than 4m for a detached home?
  • If your extension is to the side is the width less than half the width of the original house, is it one storey and under 4m high?
  • Is the height of your single-storey rear extension under 4m?

1. EXTEND WITH A SIDE RETURN

Extending out to the side is a good option if you live in a semi-detached or detached home, as it doesn’t mean using garden space. You may loose side access to your garden though, and planning permission can be trickier as it will be determined by how close you are to you neighbour’s boundary. For period terraced homes the path or back garden to the side of a kitchen at the rear, called the side return can be extended into to create a kitchen that runs the full width of the house. Remeber, though, to consider how light will then reach the rooms the new space will extend over. You can also combine rear and side extensions for a stunning wrap-around kitchen.

Kitchen extension ideas

Image credit: Davide Lovatti

2. MAXIMISE A CONSERVATORY OR ORANGERY

A conservatory usually has a glazed or polycarbonate roof and walls while an orangery generally has more brickwork and a central glazed roof area with a solid border around it. While a conservatory can be bought as a kit, an orangery is usually a more time-consuming project. Both are a good option if you need to add more light. If designed to be open to the rest of the room you will need buildings regulation. It will also need to conform to strict insulation and heat-loss rules.

Kitchen extension

Image credit: Mark Bolton

See our Open-plan kitchens – to provide a natural hub for the home and greater sociability

3. EXPAND INTO THE GARDEN

The rest is often the most planning-permission-friendly option. You can extend across the full rear of your property or just the width of the kitchen as long long as you fit the criteria above. Avoid using up too much of your garden, though, or you could reduce the value of your property.

Kitchen extensions

Image credit: Jonathan Gooch

4. LET THE LIGHT IN

These Crittall-style windows add instant height and drama to this extended kitchen. Going for an industrial New-York loft feel, this kitchen extension aims to connect the open-plan kitchen with the south-facing garden.

Kitchen extension ideas

Image credit: Richard Powers

5. DOUBLE UP ON STORAGE

Plan your kitchen extension storage with care. If you have the space, it pays to keep cupboards to a specified area rather than have them dotted all around.

‘When we approach a project, we try to pack in as much storage as is humanly possible to keep it clutter free. It’s about using every inch of a new extension, and that can include installing recessed storage in thick walls, using the space above doorways or underneath floorboards,’ explains Paul McAneary, managing director, Paul McAneary Architects.

Kitchen extension ideas

Image credit: Jonathan Gooch

6. MAKE THE MOST OF A SMALL SPACE

Don’t let a lack of space restrict your style. Taking an ambitious approach to the design and fittings can result in a striking small kitchen that punches way above its weight. Boosting the natural light levels can make a big impact on the sense of space. Consult an architect about the possibility of adding skylights, French doors or a roof lantern. Failing that, a talented lighting designer will be able to transform your kitchen’s fortunes using cleverly positioned ambient lighting.

Kitchen extensions

Image credit: Jonathan Gooch

7. CONSIDER LARGE WINDOWS AND DOORS

In larger extensions with high ceilings you may feel you need more than furniture to divide up an open-plan space. These full-height sliding glazed doors are a revelation, adding smart, defined verticals to the design and marking a change of function between kitchen and garden without screening anything from view. Low-hanging pendants and fabulously tall storage emphasise the height of this space, with marble work surfaces and gold faucets uniting the decorative elements.

Kitchen extensions

Image credit: Davide Lovatti

See our Small kitchen ideas – to turn your compact kitchen into a smart, organised space

8. COLOUR IN

While the long established preference for going ‘light and bright’ when decorating small spaces does apply, it’s important not to let your kitchen slip into neutral obscurity. ‘Don’t be afraid to use colour – even really bright colours in high gloss finishes, such as lime green, blue, lilac or pink. It’s a great way to give your kitchen a boost if you haven’t got a great deal of space to play with,’ advises Adrian Stoneham of Stoneham Kitchens.

Kitchen conversions

Image credit: Jody Stewart

9. DIG DEEP

Basement kitchens are on the rise, especially in urban areas where space is at a premium and conservation areas where possibilities for alterations are limited. These projects involve either opening up an existing cellar or digging down and under the house. It is an expensive business, though worthwhile in areas where house prices are high and a ground floor extension or loft conversion is not possible. Designed well, a basement extension can be light and airy. Most architects will incorporate a wall of glass – usually folding or sliding doors – that opens onto a patio or decked area, which is then stepped up to the main garden.

Kitchen basement

Image credit: Jonathan Gooch

10. MAKE IT OPEN PLAN

This shift in style that sees life congregating in the kitchen is partly due to changes in lifestyle. Busy and time poor, we grab every moment we can with our families, and the rise of the amateur chef who is happy to entertain at home, has also had a huge impact, along with our change in attitude to open plan living. ‘People were always a bit suspicious of the New York-style open plan loft,’ says Kate Cooper of Absolute Architecture,

‘It was designed for a lifestyle that was not a family lifestyle. People couldn’t imagine being comfortable there.’ But the living kitchen provides just the right amount of open plan living while still having separate rooms to escape to. Its benefits are clear. It’s easy to keep an eye on young children or help older ones with homework while you cook if you are all in the same room, and to share the day’s experiences with a partner whist both attending to separate tasks. And no cook will ever feel banished to a back room leaving guests to entertain themselves.

Open plan kitchen

Image credit: Jody Stewart

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