Townhouse Extension in Broughton, Milton Keynes

With Milton Keynes being a relatively new city; it includes amongst its housing stock a large number of townhouses. They are a popular choice for many housing developers due to them still offering 3-4 bedrooms to potential customers but on a considerably smaller footprint, so therefore, more houses can be packed into housing developments.

Whilst they are popular with the younger generation who find the living space works for them sufficiently, further down the line it can became more difficult when growing families struggle to make the space work for them.

Many clients are now contacting us because they either already owned one of these townhouses or have recently purchased one and want to know what their options are. They are desperate for more downstairs living space to accommodate the children’s toys and other belongings that they have built up over the years.

Back in 2014 we were asked by a kitchen design company, that we worked with to make contact with the owners of a house in Broughton. The townhouse was built in 2009 and like so many houses built now, suffered from not enough family space on the ground floor. With it being a 3 storey; it benefitted from plenty of bedroom space, and featured a reasonable sized garden but on the downside the kitchen/dining space was relativity cramped for everyday family life.

The obvious solution was to extend the kitchen area and create a family open plan area that could be used all year round with plenty of light coming in. Whilst we knew what needed to be done to improve the house; it is always the extra care and attention to the design that can really make the end result special for the client.

Given the window configuration to the upstairs, which the clients did not wish to alter, we had to choose a roof shape that would be compatible with their existing design. This in turn facilitated a double aspect skylight configuration, which really does make this room space special.

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Our clients have dressed the room beautifully and the kitchen designers have really made the most of the new space giving a stunning open plan eating/living area they can enjoy spending time in.

As an architectural practice; it gives us a real thrill to know that we have been instrumental in achieving such a lovely space and knowing that without any exaggeration, how this can transform people’s lives.

If you have a townhouse and would like to know more how you can benefit from extra downstairs living space; please do give Building Tectonics a call on 01908 366000 to see how we can help.

Remodelling of Bletchley Bungalow Interior

Having purchased this bungalow in Tavistock Street, Bletchley with the intention of renovating it by enlarging its footprint and remodelling the interior; our clients contacted us for help with the design and planning of the project.

The main aim of the remodelling exercise was to open up the bungalow roof space to create a usable first floor which would then house a new bedroom; in addition to creating ‘drop lighting’ into darker areas of the ground floor where a new kitchen area would be situated.

When it comes to loft conversions, they can be quite tricky at the best of times, but providing the shafts for the drop lighting added an extra structural difficulty we needed to plan for.

Our clients have worked very hard to project manage and, in some cases, even provided the labour for this project with the end result being a stunning kitchen/diner with lots of natural light flooding in and a new light and airy bedroom upstairs.

If you are embarking on a project like this it is essential to have a thorough set of good detailed plans; and a pre-requisite to this is a good scheme where all of the fundamental difficulties have been considered and preferably designed away. This means that even a quite large design change is easier to manage if thorough plans have been produced beforehand, and in our client’s case we are now tying up some changes initiated during the building work.

We always recommend to clients that once the work starts it is best not to change the design, but sometimes it is inevitable, especially with old buildings and this was the situation here. However, because we had plans to work from, it made the process much easier and I am sure you will agree that they have done a fantastic job project managing it and we have thoroughly enjoyed working with them to create their dream living space.

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Kitchens and triangular thinking.

The ’work triangle’ is something that clients can often come across when thinking of designing their new kitchen. It seeks to describe the perfect relationship between the sink, cooker, and refrigerator.  It has always been said that this triangle should be quite compact to allow the cook to access all crucial parts of the kitchen without the need to walk far when preparing meals. Even though the basic idea still applies, it needs a few updates since our kitchens have become more complex, involving much more equipment; microwave, multiple ovens, and separate hob. Some even include a built-in coffee machine. Despite the dishwasher not having a part in food preparation, many of you will surely admit that often you find yourself looking for the one knife you need, and find it in the dishwasher, used to prepare a meal earlier that day. The conclusion we can often come to when thinking about these aspects is “I need a bigger kitchen”, but that could make it an impractical one in terms of how far you’d have to walk to get a meal prepared. Kitchen preparation space is often sacrificed for the sake of fitting everything into a smaller space, but when you’re cooking fresh meals enough space to prepare it in is paramount.

The layout of a kitchen can be described with one of the following terms; island, galley, bay or L shaped.
Galley kitchens are usually only on one side, sometimes two but this makes it much more compact as well as shorter.
Islands are very popular in many modern kitchens which is, in my opinion, due to the aesthetics of them rather than their practicality. They can work quite well, but only if you accept that one side will be for guests to look at; for presentation only as if you tried to store things on all sides, you’d get your daily cardio in by constantly running around it for the different utensils etc.
L shaped kitchen layouts can work out okay but can sometimes be too spread out.
Bay kitchens are, in my view, the best in terms of practicality, they’re also sometimes referred to as peninsula kitchens.

Here at Building Tectonics, when we design a kitchen we always show a kitchen layout, but by no means is that the permanent design; this is just to show that at least one suitable layout can be accommodated. The layout is often adopted by the client, even if it’s not accepted as the final kitchen design, at least we know a sensible kitchen configuration fit into the available space. I’ve been to a few houses where the architect hasn’t paid as much attention to detail and as a result, the cooker has ended up miles away from the rest of the kitchen. If you’re designing a kitchen space please don’t accept a space that doesn’t achieve the basic function of cooking. If the space isn’t working then call in a company like Building Tectonics to advise you on how you could alter or extend the space to get a more functional kitchen.

After interior of a kitchen leading to living room.

Extended in Tattenhoe

Our client wanted to create a larger kitchen family area, and a space to sit with friends and enjoy the views over the sunnier side of the house. They’d already thought that converting the garage to livable space may be part of the answer, but our job was to show how the existing and new spaces could be satisfactorily connected together. The resulting scheme achieves a very spacious house, with rooms that allow for separate activities to take place without interference, but also when the time is right, the doors can be opened to allow the new spaces to fully interact. Large folding sliding doors to the garden also allow the outside spaces to be used in conjunction too.
Our client said the following:

“The design has also allowed for some flexibility in how we use our living spaces, which has meant that we have been able to make the most of the increased light coming from the bifold doors and velux windows. We’re delighted with the new living area and the vaulted ceiling has created even more of a spacious feel than we had anticipated”.

The client is extremely pleased with the end result, as are we. To have choices in the way you use space is nice to have, and even though it isn’t requested by clients, we’ll suggest this to clients in the future.

We had been recommended to this client by a previous client, which makes it so much more rewarding.

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After interior kitchen with dining space.

House remodel in Woburn Sands.

Our clients had bought a bungalow in a very sought after area of Woburn Sands. They had carefully assessed what they wished to achieve with the alterations to the bungalow, in brief this consisted of creating an open plan downstairs where they could eat and entertain guests, and create a first-floor bedroom in the loft space. On analysis, it was clear that not much of the roof structure could be kept, and so they vacated the whole house for a few months to allow the roof to be removed, and a new taller roof structure created. It was all quite a major overhaul of what was a very tired and outdated house.

We also suggested that given the radical nature of these changes, consideration should be given to improving the entrance area. As clients go, these were a joy to work with and we found out early on that as a design team (I believe that the client is also apart of the design team), we could all introduce ideas into the scheme knowing they would all be given open and full consideration. Many ideas were introduced into the design even from the earliest discussions, and the eventual final design managed to effortlessly accommodate nearly everything the clients had wanted, and more.

The resulting chalet now has a fabulous bedroom suite overlooking the most beautiful canopy of trees rising up from the valley below. The interior has been modified and slightly extended to create a collection of spaces which achieve what is required of individual spaces, but they also connect together so that you can pass from space to space in an easy, uncomplicated way whilst taking in the interior and exterior views.

Externally, the building was given more of a facelift. The raised roof structure was treated to a new slate roof, which together with sprocketed eaves always looks majestic. The walls were clad in render and cedar, which enabled us to introduce more insulation underneath, and together with the limited use of metal on parts of the roof, the house now has a modern, fresh and contemporary look.

Obviously, our clients have invested heavily in this project, but the resulting house is perfect, and very special. From out point of view, we’re proud to have been a part of this project, and would thank our clients for the commission, which incidentally has already resulted in two more commissions from admiring neighbours.

 

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Garden Room in Bletchley.

Our clients wanted to replace a conservatory with a room that they could use all year round. The old timber conservatory was in need of replacement as it was rotten in places, but rather than opt for a newer plastic conservatory (which would still have a limited life expectancy) they wanted to invest their money wisely by extending their house and create what we would call a ‘garden room’. They believe, as we do, that this would be a longer lasting asset. They also wanted to create a more integrated layout so that the ‘garden room’ became a space to be used in conjunction with the kitchen, and also formed the ‘hub’ of the house, connecting with the lounge and the garden.

The exterior was intended to be simple, unostentatious and blend in with the existing building.

The clients are delighted with the results as it gives them everything they required.

Modern spaces.

Our client, Glen is a bit of a celebrity in Milton Keynes, having made himself very wealthy by buying, selling and renting property. So we were proud to be asked by him to come up with some ideas for his new house. In short we did our thing, producing some schemes showing how to extend and remodel this tired and outmoded property. As we have said many times before, we are not interior designers because we do not generally advise on colours, wallpaper and carpets etc, but we are good with space. Most clients enjoy the process of “dressing” the space and in this case Glen and Amanda have clearly enjoyed the process.

Click on any of the pictures below to view the gallery, I think most people would agree that the pictures look stunning.

 

Written by Tony Keller – Building Tectonics Ltd.

There’s no need for that Scullery.

As you all know, the other day was Christmas so there was a lot of cooking which needed to be done, I began to think about how some of the rooms in our houses have changed in their size, use and meaning.

I shall use the kitchen as the example.

Kitchens in medieval times were generally fairly small rooms, which you would assume the owner had never set foot in, let alone actually prepared any meals in! There would usually be a smaller room near the kitchen, called the ‘Scullery’. This room would have a deep sink in it, which all of the dishes, utensils and cutlery were washed and stored in, and then they would be brought back out the next time that they were needed. The amount which could be accumulated from one meal was astounding. One meal for 6 people could easily generate 145 pieces of washing up as an average amount. (I’ll bet that a dishwasher would have come in handy back then!). They also used the Scullery to wash their clothes too, whereas a large percentage of us now have a washing machine in the kitchen or utility room for that.

Back then, the kitchen was purely functional – used exclusively for cooking in, and not a lot else. If you were to trace the word “kitchen” back to its very first origin (which I believe may be Latin) it literally means ‘cook’, so it makes sense that this was the only activity which took place in this room.

But if you look at many houses now, then you’ll come to find that the kitchen is seen in a very different light nowadays.

Architects are asked more and more often to create large kitchen spaces when working on people’s homes because it has taken on different functions over time. As opposed to being used only for cooking, we now use it to wash the utensils, dishes, clothes and anything else which we use, entertaining guests and general socialising too. Very different to what they would have done back in the day.

Due to the fact that the kitchen has become so multi-purpose, we no longer have any need for a Scullery to seperate tasks like washing up utensils, or washing clothes etc. It’s all done in the kitchen.

Written by Jade Turney – Building Tectonics Ltd.

Why not make the garden feel like another room?

Tony met our client, Simon Haddy, through BNI which is a breakfast networking organization, and so when Simon needed to extend his house it was natural to contact Building Tectonics. Simon and his family had two major requirements;

1) to have a larger kitchen, eating and family space, and the second is

2) that this space should open out onto the garden.

These two requests are probably the two most popular requirements of our clients lately, and we design a lot of such extensions. In essence the design of such an extension is quite straightforward, although as always it’s easy when everything is thought through and difficult when it goes wrong. The devil is in the detail, as they say.

The resulting space has worked very well and our clients have done a great job on the interior design. The resultant new space works well with the external folding sliding doors shut but it really scores when the weather allows the doors to be fully opened and the garden is allowed to become part of the living space. When you get this right, the garden can feel like another room. The size of the garden, its sense of enclosure created by the garden walls and of course the house itself, help to engender this feeling, which is of course quite transient since at a moments notice the bi-fold doors can be closed again. Just as well in our climate you might say, but it is so nice to be able to make the most of a nice warm day, when we do have one.

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Written by Tony Keller – Building Tectonics Ltd.