IBLA have almost doubled the space inside this typical London townhouse with the addition of a pair of ‘secret' new floors at the top and bottom of the house.
The clients, a pair of doctors, wanted to significantly increase the amount of floor-space in their house, whilst maintaining the existing character and external massing of the original house, and keeping their garden. Their brief included two new bedrooms and a play space for their children, a new kitchen, a completely re-worked 1st floor with new bathrooms and storage, and a space for exercising, playing the drums and watching TV.
IBLA embraced the idea that the changes to the house would be discreet, and would preserve the existing massing and character of the original house. As such, the typical solution of adding a large ground floor rear extension to provide the extra accommodation required was rejected from the outset, and the intention became to re-model and re-configure the house in a sympathetic and respectful manner. IBLA proposed a substantial refurbishment of the existing house, a total re-build of the roof, and a sizeable basement extension.
Firstly, a new rear-facing loft extension was created ‘hidden’ behind the retained brick gable end of the existing roof. The roof was completely rebuilt and opened up to provide a new ‘children’s floor’; a large shared space for the kids, leading onto a pair of bedrooms with glazed walls hidden behind the retained gable facing the rear garden. The lofty, light-filled roof space, lined in painted timber boarding and decorated in muted greys and pinks, provides a generous play area - and is a spectacular culmination to the extended main staircase to the house. The existing traditional stair from the ground floor entrance hall to the first floor landing was extended upwards in a similar soft palette of painted timber. A gently curved stringer echoes an existing arch; and the new stair handrail is designed to open up towards the top, allowing views and light down to the rest of the house.
At ground floor, the existing galley kitchen, dining and utility areas were cleared, and a generous new kitchen space was created across the entire rear, with large glazed sliding doors opening into the garden via a new raised decked area. A small (3m x 2m) side extension housing a Pantry and Cloakroom was added. This, along with a new back door, enabled direct access to the new kitchen from the outside. This small functional move had a significant effect on the family’s daily life: facilitating kids' arrival and exit, deliveries and shopping, and creating bike storage.
The existing first floor over the kitchen was replaced with large weathered French oak beams cut and jointed precisely to ensure that they would fit between the existing walls and a new steel beam which supports the rest of the rear facade above. A new painted timber boarded ceiling is also introduced here, this time painted in a warm grey. The chunky oak beams are contrasted with the finely detailed new oak kitchen cabinets, which have been designed as a series of pieces of furniture. A new wood-burning stove sits in a painted brick alcove and defines a cosy dining area. The kitchen connects to the ground floor front room via a library/study. The first floor layout was rationalised to include a new master bedroom suite, a study and guest accommodation. The new master bathroom was carefully designed to preserve the existing fireplace and features new panelling and a tiled floor.
Below ground level, the entire house has been underpinned and a new basement excavated under it. The enlarged basement includes a bedroom with ensuite, a laundry room and a large recreation room. The latter has a vaulted ceiling and extends under the new external deck. Glazed doors open onto a sunken garden, which also provides access to the rear garden via a new external staircase. This recreation room provides space for a rowing machine, exercise bike, drum kit and TV viewing area, and can be understood as a counterpoint to the kids play-space up in the roof.