The old galley kitchen of Bridget and Mark Payton’s spacious townhouse in York wasn’t ideal. The room was narrow, limited in the way it could be used and disproportionate to the rest of the property.
Although the couple changed the units and decorated in fresh, light colours, they dreamed of the day they could start building an extension to create a bigger kitchen for themselves and their twin daughters Lilah and Eve.
“We moved from our last house, a three-bedroom Victorian terrace, in 1994 because we wanted to start a family and at the same time we were looking for a project — a home that we could make our own,” says Bridget. “We looked at quite a few other properties before we saw this one and fell in love with it immediately. I was particularly taken with the hall and stairs and by the time we’d got to the top floor we were ready to put in an offer.”
By a stroke of luck, they were able to do a house swap with the previous owner. Soon they were moving in and tackling some of the basic problems, such as rain coming in through the windows, and spent endless hours sanding wooden floors, fixing new skirting boards, stripping the walls and decorating.
They then lived in the house for many years while saving up and planning for modern extension ideas, which would give them extra space on the ground floor.
“We knew we didn’t want a big, modern knock-through,” says Bridget. “On the other hand we’ve always liked Scandi-style homes and places with a warm industrial style. Add to that our passion for recycling and we started to build a picture of the kind of thing we wanted.”
They got in touch with York architect Tim Hatton, of Carve Architecture, and after seeing the work he had done to his own house, they asked him to come up with a design which would create as much ‘physical’ space as possible.
“He understood where we were coming from, and that we wanted a space that did everything,” says Mark. “It was agreed that the glazed kitchen extension should go right across the full width of the house at the back and that we would keep the old exterior wall as a feature inside — including the old back door, complete with its ornate surround, and the original windows. It was a eureka moment.
"Before this we had been working out how to knock through, but we realised we could just build out from the original wall.”
Tim’s design involved knocking down the old kitchen and building what is effectively a ‘box’ across the entire back of the property. The design included a strip of rooflights linking the extension to the original wall, along with a large central rooflight and glass doors onto the garden. The new walls were to be built from bricks reclaimed from the original kitchen.
The new floor is polished concrete with underfloor heating — an antidote to the draughts and winter chills that come with an older house and a ‘must-have’ luxury as far as the Paytons were concerned.
The doors and rooflights draw masses of natural light into the space, the strip of light between the old and new defining the link.
By keeping the original wall, door and windows, recycling the kitchen units and using recycled wood to create a kitchen island, they significantly reduced their kitchen design costs. Bridget was also the project manager and spent hours sourcing materials and coordinating the build to help reduce their costs even further.
Thanks to the support and experience of those around them, Bridget and Mark’s project ran remarkably smoothly. “The biggest challenge was in the planning stage, but as soon as we realised we could simply build out from the original house without knocking out walls and overcomplicating things, everything fell into place," says Bridget. "It’s totally transformed the way we live in the house. Needless to say, most of our time is spent in the extension.”
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