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project inspiration new kitchen

Folding-sliding doors link the inside and outside spaces, and the breakfast bar is positioned to enjoy views of the garden

5 architect’s tips for projectmanaging a transformation Project architect Stephen Broadley of Riach Architects reveals how you can achieve a fabulous result first time. Decide what you want. The more detailed the information you give your architect, the more they can tailor the proposal to your taste. Search magazines or the internet for designs you like and give these images to your architect. Get the right team. Cost is clearly a factor, but the best is not always cheapest. Ask yourself if you can work with this person. Recommendations are



useful and it‘s okay to ask for references. Do you feel they have the required expertise? Visit a recent project and examine the quality of the work. Ask to see a project that’s underway, too. Warn your neighbours. When the designs have progressed to a point where you are happy, a friendly chat with your neighbours can be very helpful. Most people hate surprises, and being open at this stage can often prevent problems later. It may even allow you to design out a particular issue ahead.



Design for the future. Consider how long you intend to stay in the house. This will put the cost into perspective and focus your mind on what you want. Consider how you and your family will change in five, 10 or 50 years, and make provision for these changes. Put aside a contingency. It should be around 10 per cent above the projected cost of the work. Be careful not to spend it on upgrading floor tiles, for example. This money should be left for coping with unforeseen problems only.





old space

Above Bearing all the hallmarks of its institutional past, the previous kitchen was unsuitable for a modern family home


dining room

Right Vaulted ceilings add wow-factor and a sense of space. The area is linked to the kitchen by an open doorway and a flight of steps

kitchen-diner extension

The original kitchen was dated and badly designed, with no proper space for dining. It needed a makeover to bring it up to date, and an extension to create more room. The brief: To extend a small kitchen to create a large, open-plan cooking and dining space, suitable for a modern family. The background: ‘Situated in an Oxford suburb, this large Victorian house had last been used by a college and had suffered from years of institutional use and neglect,’ says Andrew Hudson, senior architect at Riach Architects. ‘The owners of the house asked us to help them create a modern family home, making the most of the retained Victorian features, but injecting a contemporary feel with a transparent glass fireplace, a large, modern kitchen and a new staircase.’ The architects started by demolishing the old building to the rear and replacing it with a traditional double-height building for the dining area that overlooks and opens out on to the garden. Its open-trussed roof creates a spacious feel. The dining room is connected to the Harvey Jones kitchen via an open doorway and a short flight of steps. Beautiful engineered wood flooring and the double-sided glass fireplace also visually link the two spaces. ‘Our aim was to restore the house to its former glory and reinstate some of the original Victorian character, plus give it a modern twist, which I think we’ve achieved,’ says Andrew Hudson. The budget: Around £150,000 for the kitchen and extension.



Using the same palette of materials in both spaces helps to visually link the kitchen and dining area

design inspiration


old space

Above The basement was an empty space before its conversion by Riach Architects


basement conversion

The cellar of this family home had never served as a habitable room, so it needed to be dug out and converted. The brief: To transform a disused area into a multipurpose space that would be enjoyed by the whole family. The background: ‘The clients have five children and an au pair, who needed her own living space. The solution was to convert the existing, disused basement into separate areas – one for the au pair, and one for the family,’ says Andrew Hudson, senior architect at Riach Architects. The basement housed the ancient heating system and had been neglected

for many years, with bare earth floors that were riddled with damp. The ceiling was very low, so the floor level was dropped, the building underpinned and the walls and floors waterproofed. This room, once a dank, dark space, was now ready to be fitted out as a family cinema and recreation room, complete with floor-to-ceiling shelving, comfy sofas and table football, not to mention a large flatscreen television. A clever lighting scheme makes the otherwise daylightstarved space bright and welcoming, while pale furnishings help it to feel spacious. The budget: Around £100,000.

living area

From dank basement to the perfect space for relaxing, the new recreation room is kitted out with practical shelving, seating and a large television

Make the most impact with your budget

tend to be either modern, with lots of glass, a slate roof and walls clad in render and timber, or traditional, creating a period look with natural handmade materials.

If you love where you live and don’t want to move, but just wish your house was more attractive outside, then an external makeover could be the perfect solution.

A building’s fundamental shape and style can be transformed by adding or removing extensions and altering the roof, for instance by changing the pitch, adding gables, or dormer windows. Adding or altering porches, chimneys, bay windows and verandas will also help to create interest. If the roof covering looks wrong, it can be stripped and re-covered, and possibly insulated at the same time.

Where to Start Come up with a vision of what your home could be. Identify the features that most need to be changed or disguised. Remodelling schemes

How It’s Done

Unattractive walling materials can be painted over, disguised by climbing plants or covered with new materials, such as render, timber cladding, hung tiles, or brick. The windows are one of the most important features to get right, while garage doors can be very prominent and may need to be changed. Integral garages never look right on a period home, and are best converted into living space.

What it costs A simple makeover needn’t cost more than a few thousand. With a bit of imagination, you could turn your house into your dream home. u


Essential design r advice fjoect your pro

Econoloft built this wet room as part of a loft conversion in a three-bedroom semi-detached property in Kent. It was designed as an en suite to a master bedroom


Don’t be put off by sloping ceilings and feature jo messenger

As part of the renovation and extension of this house in Oxford, the loft bathroom was designed by Riach Architects. The space features contemporary fittings, but also reflects the traditional style of the mullioned leaded windows

‘Getting the plumbing right will be integral to the design’ ‘If there’s a water tank in your loft, it’s likely that this will need to be relocated, such as to a corner of the loft, and/or replaced with a coffin water tank, in order to convert the space. Most builders would recommend replacing your old system with a combi boiler; although more expensive, it will be more efficient, saving you money in the long run, and won’t take up loft floor space. ‘Whatever your system, you’ll need enough water pressure and boiler capacity to cope with the new bathroom. Fitting a shower may impact on your hot water supply, or insufficient water pressure may cause problems getting hot water to your taps. Your builders should check this first and advise you. Booster pumps or new Megaflo systems are often used in loft conversions. A loft bathroom


needs to be as near as possible to your waste pipe – typically at the back of a property – so your new room will usually be built above the existing bathroom to make plumbing easier and more cost-effective. A Saniflo macerator is useful if the bathroom will be far from the soil and vent pipe, but it has constraints. Saniflo Plus can be fitted but costs more. ‘Wet rooms work well in a loft. The shower area is usually level with the surrounding floor, with a slight slope to the drain, fitted directly into the floor. A fibreglass system is used to tank the room. ‘Loft conversions involve major build work and costs, so work with a trusted company. This will also ensure your project complies with regulations.’ Becke Livesey, director of Econoloft

‘Your loft conversion may not need planning permission’ ‘If you are thinking of converting your loft to create a bathroom, it may be possible without planning permission. If your loft is of sufficient size, you may be able to turn it into a habitable space under permitted development. Avoiding a planning application will speed up the project and may allow for greater scope than planning policy would permit. ‘In reviewing the size of your existing loft, bear in mind that you’ll probably need to upgrade the roof thermally and the floor may need to be updated structurally; both will reduce the space available. There’s always the option of extending your loft,

and it is also possible to change your hipped roof into a gable under permitted development. For more details on your permitted development rights for a loft conversion, see www.planningportal. commonprojects/ loftconversion/miniguide. ‘It’s a good idea to submit your proposals to the local authority for a quick check, with a yes or no answer, to confirm that they fall within your permitted development rights. If not, you can still go through the planning process with your architect, who can guide you through local policy requirements.’ Stephen Broadley, project architect at Riach Architects

expert advice

Bathrooms a lack of services – converting your space will give you a stylish new room The light in this bathroom, designed by A1 Loft Conversions, has been maximised by adding a small window in the dead space under the rooflight

‘Make sure that your new space will get plenty of light’ ‘The most straightforward way to make sure your bathroom is bright and airy is to fit rooflights. There are lots of different designs and sizes available on the market at the moment and you are not limited to a framed look. ‘However, in order to maximise the feeling of space and light in your loft, it is worth considering combining the bedroom and bathroom areas. This can give your loft a penthouse feel and create a spa-like area. Consider using a low partition wall to separate the wet and dry areas of your space; add internal glazed walls or glass panels in walls to make sure your bedroom and bathroom areas are bathed in natural light throughout the day. You can opt for clear or obscured glass, depending on the level of privacy that you are

comfortable with. I use this solution with my clients a lot. You could recess a frameless glass panel into your partition wall, creating an alcove on the shower side as a handy storage solution for toiletries. If you are concerned that this look will be too modern for your house, you could try incorporating glass into character pieces, such as an original door. ‘If you want to maximise privacy while including new technology, and you have a fairly large budget, you might want to consider intelligent glass. When you press a switch, an electric current passes through the glass, turning it transparent. When the power is switched off, it becomes opaque for privacy.’ Agnieszka Prendota, designer at A1 Loft Conversions

Save space by using a combined bath and shower, such as the Delphi shower-bath, £370, with the shower screen and towel rail at £361. It is part of the Sunrise back-to-wall range by VitrA UK, which also includes the semi-recessed basin, £200, and WC, £249

‘Think of practicalities, such as your suite’s weight and size’ ‘If you’re choosing a bathroom suite for a loft, consider the weight of the designs you pick, and what your floor can support. You may need to reinforce the floor if you go for a heavy item, such as a cast-iron bath or radiator, incurring more costs. Look for lightweight materials, such as acrylic, for your bath instead. Although a statement bath will add wow-factor, if space is limited, a shower could be a better option. Don’t be tempted to put a WC under the eaves, as you’ll need enough head-height to be able to stand up. ‘While storage is essential in any bathroom, it’s especially useful in

the loft, as you’ll want to avoid traipsing up and down the stairs to get toiletries. Make sure that you have everything to hand in a tall unit, or incorporate your storage and basin in a vanity unit. If space is tight in your bathroom, pick a unit with a shallow depth – basins and WCs with a short projection will be functional and also take up less floor space. ‘Use optical illusions to make the room feel larger. Choose glossy finishes and mirrors to reflect light, and fresh and subtle colours to create a spacious feel.’ Darren Paxford, national sales manager at VitrA UK u


5 Architects Tips, Room Transformations and Lofts  
5 Architects Tips, Room Transformations and Lofts  

Riach Architects were featured in a number of articles throughout this issue of Real Homes Magazine www....