A design-led approach to extending a West London semi

When we were set the task of extending and redesigning the complete ground floor of a West London semi-detached family home, we used our architectural knowledge and design expertise to ensure the result was not just a typical suburban extension but a well-designed and thought-out space that fulfilled the needs of the family.

A versatile living space

Like many Victorian houses, this West London house was long and narrow with small, insular rooms, dark areas, and contracted views, resulting in a home that didn’t work well for its owners. There was also a significant change of level between house and garden, causing a disconnection between the two areas, making the house feel very inward-looking. The owners subsequently sought a complete re-think of both inside and outside space.

The initial brief was to increase the rear space area by adding a side return extension. This would incorporate a re-design of the entire ground floor and garden to allow improved use of space that better suited the family’s lifestyle.

Our solution was to design a versatile and adaptable kitchen and living area. This area would encompass kitchen, dining, and TV space, allowing for easy everyday living as well as providing room for entertaining.

Layout options

The client asked us to draw up their own layout ideas for the new extension. We were aware that this layout was not going to give them the space they needed in the family room, but provided the drawings knowing that this would help them to understand the reasons why.

In both options, the original front room became a cosy living room/library/snug area that the family could retreat to for peace and quiet; the central room was given a sense of place, providing a flexible storage/utility/boot room area. The design allowed room for the family’s inherited furniture and artwork and gave the flexibility to adapt to their changing needs.

plan options for house layout

Central Space

All too often when adding a rear extension to a building, the central space loses its purpose, becomes a ‘nothing space’, little more than a corridor. Our design ensured that every space had a purpose as well as inviting you to spend time in it.

The family needed utility and cloaks space. Rather than blocking out the light and creating a cramped and uninviting area, a bespoke piece of joinery that housed the cloaks and utility within it was suggested, meaning that the central space would flow and provide a sense of calm and beauty with all of the essential clutter hidden away.



Connecting the inside to out

A large expanse of glazing and continuous kitchen counter runs throughout the extension space and outside to the new deck area.



This device, along with carefully placed joinery and unified colour palette, draws the eye from the middle space, through the extension and out to the garden. Providing a connection from inside to out and increasing the sense of space.


Level to the new extension, an outdoor entertaining area has been planned, allowing a transition space from the inside before reaching steps down into the garden beyond.




The design was developed to play with and maximise the use of natural light, using artificial light: only where required. For function, to create moods, zones or features.

Natural light was introduced to the middle room with the addition of side windows.

Rooflights to the new side return were designed to slide over the exposed brick wall and rendered beams, creating light, texture, colour and movement throughout the day.


Finishes and Palette

Using a carefully considered palette of materials, connections were made between the exterior and the interior space. An exposed brick wall to one side of the kitchen/living room area, timber flooring, and kitchen work surfaces were used seamlessly connecting the inside to the outside, blurring the boundary to increase the sense of space.

The client had a desire to use dark grey joinery. JOA felt this may dominate and become too dark and harsh, so we produced thumbnail renders to illustrate how the palette might work with other joinery and in the internal exposed brick wall.



JOA worked with the client to explore options for the brickwork, ensuring the selected palette worked well both externally and internally.



At JOA we aim to listen and understand our clients. Our goal is to unlock the full potential of your home, finding solutions that fit you and your needs.