Adrian and Glenda Gracia have remodelled and extended a run-down 1950s house to create a light, bright, stylish new home.
“It was the ugliest house on the street — but we could see the potential” explains architect Adrian Gracia. It was largely the location that attracted Adrian and his wife Glenda to the frayed-around-the-edges 1950s house on a classic rectangular plot in the affluent Cardiff suburb of Penarth. With large gardens front and rear, it oozed promise and immediately Adrian saw scope for a contemporary-style scheme that would transform the building from one of the worst homes in the area to one of the most talked about.
Upon purchasing the house, Adrian set about creating a major extension and remodelling scheme that would result in a home almost completely unrecognisable, incorporating a side and rear extension, a completely new internal layout and a fresh façade with new window positions and cladding. The planners loved it, and work commenced with main contractor Town &?Counties Construction.
Both inside and out, the transformation is astonishing. Every internal wall has been opened up and some of the first floor has been removed to create a dazzling open entrance hall. Oversized door openings tempt you into a kitchen/dining space, overlooking the newly landscaped garden, and flow into another sitting area. “It’s this space we use most of the time,” says Glenda. Adrian’s architectural experience really shows itself here, with this newly extended part of the rear of the house benefiting from clever roof glazing panels that sit simply, horizontally against the flat roof structure, bringing in diffused vertical light.
In addition to the rear and side extensions, Adrian designed in a modest – 1.5m or so – two storey extension to the front of the house, breaking up the flat frontage. It adds interest to the front elevation but the reason for its addition was much more specific — the wraparound corner windows bring in ample light to the ground floor TV room, while the bedroom above now has a sea view.
Adrian and Glenda’s interiors are kitted out with high-quality, well-fitted materials, from the porcelain flooring to the sleek Häcker kitchen, whilst the feeling of light and life they create is actually pretty invigorating – it’s the kind of minimalism that isn’t too prescriptive or sterile.
So with all this remodelling and extension work, surely knocking it down and starting all over again would have been a sensible option? “With hindsight it certainly would have been easier,” admits Adrian. “But we were dead against knocking it down. I felt that the existing house had plenty of embodied energy and to simply chuck all the materials out and start again wouldn’t have felt right. As it turned out, we were able to use the skeleton of the structure and on balance the costs would have been similar if we’d rebuilt, taking the VAT saving for new build into account.”