Lucy Johnson's clever extension has given her a kitchen-diner that's perfect for her family.
When Lucy Johnson and her husband Paul moved into their new house, near to their old property in Twickenham, Richmond upon Thames, they knew the main project would be transforming the dark, cramped kitchen into an open-plan space suitable for their young family. ‘We wanted somewhere we could all spend time together,’ says Lucy. ‘Because there’s five of us, it needed to be big enough to fit a kitchen, plus dining and seating areas, with plenty of light and bi-fold doors giving easy access to the garden.’
Once they had finished renovating the living room and upper floor, the couple started planning the kitchen extension, with the help of Lucy’s architect uncle, John, who came up with lots of suggestions that helped them cement their own ideas. ‘We wanted to extend into the side return, but still leave a space for access from the front of the house to the back,’ says Lucy. ‘Also, to achieve a dining area in the kitchen, we knew we’d have to build into the garden, which John told us we’d need planning permission for.’ Lucy and Paul used an independent surveyor to handle the process and the plans went through in eight weeks.
Using the same builders who did the work on a neighbour’s house, the couple scheduled the messiest part of the construction for the school summer holidays. As Lucy is a teacher, she was able to take the children away for the entire six weeks, while Paul camped in the house when he had to return to his business. The build took seven months, with the family using the front room as their living and cooking space.
In the new, open-plan extension, there’s room for a wall of units and appliances, with a central island parallel to the family living space and an eating area at the rear – the dining table can be easily lifted into the garden if they want to eat outdoors. The couple contemplated creating a second doorway giving access to the front living room, but instead decided to install a large window between the two rooms. ‘Some people make this space, created by extending into the side return, into a walkway,’ explains Lucy. ‘But we felt that it would ruin the relaxed feel we wanted, so it was best to keep them as two separate rooms. I came up with the idea of fitting the window with frosted glass, which still offers light, but isn’t visible from the seating area.’
When it came to choosing units, Paul’s work contacts came in useful. ‘After looking at several high-street brands,’ says Lucy, ‘we found exactly what we wanted at Vogue Kitchens, which happens to be one of his clients. We opted for simple, high-gloss, handleless models with a pale-grey quartz worktop. ‘We then had a stroke of luck with the fridge-freezer, as my brother was moving and couldn’t fit his old one into his new house,’ continues Lucy. ‘The modern units work well with the wooden table and floors, but the finishing touch has to be our Forties Parisian factory stools,’ says Lucy. ‘We found them in a market in Brittany while on a sailing holiday. There were only three, but we fell in love with them and crammed them into a tiny space on the boat to bring them home.’
Photography: Colin Poole