Side Extension: Planning and inspiration

the front of our house

When myself and my boyfriend, Wayne, moved into our three-bedroom Surrey home 10 years ago, it was in pretty bad shape. It hadn’t been updated since the 1930s and had a hole in the roof and dated décor. Oh, and a strange rockery at the front with uneven paving and lots of weeds. Despite that, we fell in love with it and gradually set about updating it, both inside and out.

The house was the perfect size for us too. Although the Chalet-style design of the house lent itself well to a big extension, we had already spent our budget on buying the house. And also on some of the more pressing projects (such as installing heating and updating the electrics). So a side extension is something that’s always been on hold.

Skip forward to last year and things had changed quite a bit. Both of us now work from home – I’m an interiors writer and stylist. So we’ve had to adjust the space we have to work for us. Wayne built a cabin in the garden, which he uses as an office. So I took over the small third bedroom, again as an office.

But, what I didn’t take into account, was that working for myself as an interior stylist means that I have to hold onto certain props. Cushions, vases, bits and bobs – the items I use time and again on shoots – and they all need storing somewhere.

Why we created our side extension

So, after continued grumblings from me about ‘no space to work’ and ‘office looks like a tip’, Wayne took it upon himself to build us a side extension. We would use this not only as a dedicated storage space, but also as a utility room. Somewhere to house my props, the washing machine, tumble dryer and cleaning materials. I couldn’t have been happier.

We may not have the budget for the whole upstairs/downstairs renovation, but a single-storey side extension on the side of the house meant a lesser budget was needed. Also, as it was going to be made from timber, we wouldn’t have to apply for planning permission either. Wayne’s pretty handy and has done most of the work himself on our house. So he decided that he would do the side extension to save on cost.

side extension
A very messy side return, taken just before work started on the side extension.

The space we had to use

The side extension space in question ran along the left side of our house, from the front to the back. It was separated by a large wooden gate. It was pretty much dead space and always felt like a bit of a neglected area. We didn’t use it for anything and it seemed to accumulate any boxes that needed throwing out. Along with the barbecue (under its protective cover) in winter time. To turn it into a side extension that we could utilise every day seemed the perfect solution.

We worked out that building the side extension in this space would give us a 6 x 2 m internal area for storage. We’d also have a 3-metre porch area at the front. I’m not going to lie – the thought of having a porch was, in itself, a blessing. There’s been many a day I’ve stood outside fumbling for keys while it rains and wishing I had one to keep me dry.

Planning our side extension

If you’re planning a renovation or have completed one, I think you’ll agree that a project like this is NOTHING without a bit of research. So it was onto Pinterest and Instagram (follow me on mine here) to see what we could do with the space. I had a realisation quite early on, prompted by a long, narrow space, and so many different props to house. To make it look in any way neat and tidy, we were going to have to hide everything away behind closed doors. And thinking about how we were going to use the space, I knew that I’d most likely be coming in and out of the room with my hands full. Whether it was with boxes of props or a basket of laundry – so having sliding doors for the storage was probably the easiest route to go.

Budgeting for our side extension

We looked at our budget and knew the £3,000 we had set aside for it wasn’t going to go far unless we were clever about how we used it. Wayne went to work researching materials, and I was in charge of planning how I wanted the space to look. I love Scandi-style interiors with a bit of industrial thrown in. After seeing a few images of floor-to-ceiling plywood storage I decided that was what I wanted.

Larch House
Larch House, designed by Nicholas Szczepaniak Architects, taken from Pinterest. Great inspo for our side extension.

For the porch area at the front of the house, it was always going to be dark cladding. We’d painted our house a bright white, and so having black or a dark-coloured side extension next to it would make a good contrast. Wayne also suggested we incorporate some storage into the front of the porch to house our bikes, so that we wouldn’t have to wheel them through the extension when we want to use them.

The back of the house

side extension
Although it’s of the back of the house, this picture shows the look I wanted for the front. Design by YARD Architects, taken from Pinterest.

In mid-December 2019, the build began! Pop back soon to see how it’s taking shape…

Read more Our Side Extension blogs in the series.

Featured image: The house when we first bought it – crying out for a bit of a TLC!

Follow Laurie on Instagram @lifeofaninteriorstylist and @secretstylingclub

If you loved this, you may also enjoy How to use social media to find renovation inspiration.

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