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Home extension ideas: how to get the space you need

Notting Hill Architects

Home extension ideas: how to get the space you need

You know the kind of home extension you want. Perhaps you’ve been browsing Pinterest, flicking through magazines or indulging in some inspirational television, looking for home extension ideas. You want to find out how to make your dream home a reality but you’re not quite sure where to begin.


Don’t worry, speaking with an architect helps you form a clearer picture, no matter how developed your home extension ideas are – or how new they are! Our blog takes you through how to create the space you’ve dreamed of, what to do when faced with obstacles, and the value an architect brings to your home extension project.



Home extension ideas: what’s on your mind?


The most common initial conversations we have with clients are:


  1. People come with a fixed idea about how they want to extend their home
  2. Clients have an idea for an extension or home renovation project, although it’s quite loose. They come wanting to have an open conversation
  3. Sometimes people come and say, ‘You’re the architect, give me the ideas!’


At 50 Degrees North, we always aim to inspire, no matter the scenario.


There’s no right or wrong idea and an architect will be able to help you shape a brief. Though if you have something in mind, it helps to shape the project and means that your architect can present you with designs that speak to you. More importantly, having even a loose idea in the beginning, helps your architect design a space that will bring you joy and many years of use.



Whatever your ideas, an architect helps you see the possibilities


Architects are brilliant space planners. Experience and clever questioning mean that a professional will be able to draw out a brief. They’ll help you drill down into what space is needed (kitchen; bathroom; living room; entrance hall, etc.) and what it will be used for (entertaining; a little luxury at home; family time; creating a welcoming environment, for instance).


If this all sounds a little pragmatic, don’t worry. Great design is at the heart of an architect’s job. Rest assured that your architect will approach the space and its use from an inspirational as well as a practical point of view.


Inspiration vs. practicality


It’s worth explaining here what we mean by inspirational elements vs. practical elements.


As architects, we think about the physical space, the light in the building, the shape of the room, and the materials that can be used. We think about how all of these separate factors add up and interplay to create an overall effect.


Against all of that inspiration, the practicalities are a balance. Questions such as, ‘what’s possible?’ come to the fore. Considerations around what the existing space is like and where the property is located are important. We’ll assess how these more pragmatic factors will help to bring the inspirational elements to life.


Constraints and opportunities: honing your vision of an extended home


Beyond inspiration and practicalities, an architect can take you through the finer details when you’re generating ideas and making decisions. Sometimes, even when clients have very clear home extensions ideas, the practicalities of the site become constraints.



Constraints are things such as boundaries of the property or land, nearby buildings, the environment, the property location and geography.



Opportunities are afforded by factors such as where the sun rises and sets, the views or vistas from the property, what the surroundings are like, and what the space will be used for.



Constraints don’t spell disaster for your project. From an architect’s point of view, a constraint can introduce an added layer of creativity to the design and build.



Constraints can frighten clients! At first, it seems as though an external force is bearing down upon your beautiful ideas and vision for your home. Please, don’t worry! Constraints don’t spell disaster for your project. From an architect’s point of view, a constraint can introduce an added layer of creativity to the design and build. Going around an obstacle instead of proceeding on a straight road can be a good thing. Sometimes, constraints become opportunities because they open avenues that would not otherwise have been explored.



Focus on the possibilities with your home extension


Don’t panic about constraints. It’s important to keep the flexibility of the space in mind. Even if your exact idea doesn’t work in reality, you can still achieve the space you’re looking for.


Doubling up


At 50 Degrees North, we’re very proud of the fact that we never fail to get the spaces requested by our clients. Whether that means doubling spaces up or putting the rooms in a different arrangement to suit the building or the size of the space.


How an architect’s vision brings your extension idea to life


This is where an architect adds a lot of value. An experienced, confident architect won’t simply take your idea, create a drawing, and hand it over to the builder.


Instead, they will carefully walk with you through what you’re hoping to achieve in the space, how you will live in it every day, and what your vision is for the future: are there children, grandchildren, friends visiting regularly…? This creates a clear starting point. Subsequently, the brief your architect helps you to shape and the designs they produce will genuinely live up to your expectations and help you to fulfil the life and vision that you have in mind.



The one constraint that affects every home extension


In terms of constraints, it’s worth mentioning space. Space in its literal, physical form, the X by Y by Z metres.


The constraints of physical space is something that comes up for our clients all the time. After all, we are an island nation and lots of our work is carried out in the densely populated metropolis that is London. You may have a space that is smaller in square footage than you believe you need. An architect’s key skill is to make a space feel spacious.


How to create a feeling of space in a small home extension


Creating spaciousness is not something that comes easy. An architect’s particular skill set comes into play here:


  • Knowledge of space and light – your architect will use their intricate understanding of how to maximise space and make the most of natural light. This creates a feeling of space that isn’t inherent in the square footage alone
  • Knowledge of materials – an architect will have a thorough understanding of how to use different materials to make a space feel larger
  • Understanding of shape – the shape of a room has an impact on its spacious feel. An architect thinks three-dimensionally, so shape becomes something that expands in all directions, not merely across the footprint of the building


If you’re extending a small home, it’s worth having a conversation with an architect. They’ll be able to help maximise the space available, even if you believe it to be too small.



Keep an open mind when bringing your home extension ideas to life


An architect’s space planning skills will help you to get the spaces you’re looking for. Having an idea is a great starting point. Though keep an open mind and remember that the Pinterest inspiration board is just that – inspiration. Sometimes the most inspiring moments happen when you start to have a conversation about possibilities. When you approach a project in that frame of mind, there’s every chance for you to create the spaces that you’d like.


If you’ve got a home extension idea and you’re not sure if it’s realistic, call us on 020 8744 2337. We’re happy to talk through your ideas and to share with you how we’ve helped clients in a similar position.