As more and more of us are wanting to stay put in a fantastic location or much loved property (as opposed to moving for more space), so grows the desire to refurbish our homes and consider house extension ideas.

Those house extensions which transform what is effectively dead space into extended living space are particularly smart, as not only do they increase floor space but they can also significantly improve our quality of life. A great way of transforming such dead space is available to those who live in a Victorian or Edwardian semi detached or terraced house in London with a side return extension. This is a subject explored in Living Etc February 2016 edition, which explores extension ideas for 2016 and features Ensoul.

What might seem like a small passageway to what’s usually a postage stamp garden in an urban area can transform your ground floor. With just a few extra feet of width comes the ability to have fabulous dining or lounging bathed in light.

Victorian & Edwardian side returns

Back in the day, the side passage would have provided essential access to the outside loo as well as a place to store coal and wood for heating. Thankfully, since we no longer have to brave the elements when nature calls, you can extend your property into this valuable space relatively quickly. These dead spaces can easily become a kitchen extension or increase the floor space of another key living area. Where there is no downstairs loo, we can usually factor the design of that in as well.

The most popular use of the side return is for kitchen extensions where the additional space can create fabulous light-filled dining or additional cabinet space. And for those with sitting rooms next to a side passage, they can provide additional and more comfortable seating arrangements or perhaps a play area or snug for the kids.

As always, the best extension ideas benefit from smart and flexible floor plans, an eye for detail and a bit of interior design know-how.

Top tips for side return extensions

  • A glass roof adds lots of light and creates a magical dining experience.
  • Create a feature wall with textures like exposed brick, timber or stone cladding.
  • Run AV cabling within your new wall so you can watch TV whilst cooking.
  • Create more space with underfloor heating under stone or tiled floors instead of radiators.
  • Design a lighting scheme that works with your new roof material before build starts from up-lights in the floor; wall lights, pendants suspended off wires overhead or floor standing lights.

For more information, see our Architectural Design Services