A Surrey Terrace Extension: Creating A Light-filled Living Space

When Sara McCarthy's Victorian mid-terrace house became too small for her family's needs, she decided an extension was the best option.

Now the Kingston upon Thames house has a stunning new living space. "Without question," says Sara, "It's now everyone’s favourite room in the house." 

Tell us about your house

I bought the property, a Victorian mid-terrace, on my own in 1999. As well as major renovations; I did a side extension to the kitchen and added a conservatory.

I lived there for a few years on my own before renting the house out and buying a larger property with my then husband and started our family. After divorcing a few years ago, I moved back to the house with my two children.

The new terrace extension

Why did you decide on a terrace extension?

Now that I was living in the house with a family, it now seemed small. Rather than loving the conservatory I grew to hate it, finding it too hot in the summer and far too cold in the winter. This affected the temperature in the rest of the house - on the days it wasn’t too hot, we found that it was still too bright, and were unable to see a computer or TV screen. We didn’t have any privacy from our neighbours so slowly the room just became storage space.

With the children now teenagers and growing rapidly, the house started to feel tiny and I became desperate for more space! I'd been house hunting for a while but struggled to find the more space and the right location within my budget.

I started thinking how nice it would be to extend my terrace and create a proper usable space. I was initially concerned that it would be too expensive and wouldn't add  value, as the square footage would be the same. But I decided to bite the bullet.

The hard bit was finding a builder that was willing to do it, as most builders thought the job was too small for them. I finally found a local builder who started in October 2017 and fortunately it didn’t cost as much as I first feared.

Roof windows let in loads of natural light

What changes did you make the house?

We were able to use the sidewalls from the existing conservatory - they had to be extended a few feet in order to square off the room so as to be able to fit bi-fold doors. A new slate roof was built and I added six VELUX roof windows. The builder thought I was going over the top using so many, but as I could only use narrow ones due to the position of the roof beams, I decided to go with six. The house is north east facing, so I wanted to make sure I let in as much light as possible, especially in the middle room. I didn’t want this room to be light starved.

The build all went fairly smoothly. The end of the house was blocked off with chipboard so the builders could work on the extension from the outside without it affecting us much (a temporary cat flap was put into the chipboard so that our cat Winter could still get in and out). The kids loved coming home from school every day and seeing the progress. The only bit that made me nervous was when they started to demolish the conservatory; I did think at that stage, “What have I done?!”

I didn’t need to apply for planning permission as it was done under permitted development, so this sped up the whole process.

The extension connects the house to the garden

Are you happy with the finished extension?

Now the room is finished I’m so thrilled with the finished result, it has turned out even better than I ever could have imagined. The room is light and bright; I love the height of the ceiling. It makes the space feel larger and adds dramatic effect. I choose the painted white VELUX roof windows so as to blend into the ceiling. They look modern and contemporary and compliment the anthracite grey bi-fold doors perfectly. I fitted VELUX duo blinds so we can filter the light. We can use the blackout blinds when we have guests sleeping over, and the pleated blinds to control the light throughout the day if needs be. I fitted the blinds myself and they were - to my surprise – very easy to fit!

With the new room finished I decided to splash out on some new furniture and TV. Our new family room really is our favourite room in the house. It makes the garden feel as though it is part of the house, and I love being able to see the sky through the VELUX windows – it’s the best spot for watching TV, using the laptop, reading a book, or having 40 winks.

With the family room looking so good, my kitchen which adjoins looked tired and dated so I have given this a face lift.  I painted the beach shaker style cupboards and changing the tile splash back, so it now looks like I have a new kitchen too.

My once tiny terraced house is now spacious and light. We now have that much-needed extra reception room as well as a space for entertaining. Although the house isn’t really any larger in square footage, it feels much more spacious as its now all usable space. The whole of the ground floor is now always a comfortable temperature even on the hottest of days. I need not have worried at all as the estate agent confirmed I have certainly added value, but more importantly I now have a beautiful and spacious family home.

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