It is said that an Englishman or woman’s home is their castle, and this is especially true for Londoners living in the nation’s capital city. Our homes are at the centre of our lives, a setting for a huge range of activities: where we live, retreat, relax, host our friends, sleep, love, raise a family, express our personalities, dream, plan for the future, and invest our money. And post-pandemic, with the rise of working from home, Londoners’ residences have become even more central to life in the capital.
So, how should we go about improving our homes to get the maximum possible satisfaction from our bricks and mortar? Here we present our top 5 architectural improvements for London properties:
Feel like the walls are closing in and you need some space? Maybe it’s time to extend your property.
Extensions can be a great way to add extra floor area to your home. At the same time, an extension can change the way the house feels by changing the relationship between the inside to the outside or by connecting previously disconnected rooms. Often, this can be more effective than the extension itself, so the actual floor area of the extension you create needn’t be huge; it’s the effect, the change to the house that matters.
Looking for an Architect in London? Request a no-obligation consultation with an award-winning architect.
There are many different types of extensions: rear, roof, side, infill, double-height, single-height, flat-roofed, pitched-roofed, mansard roofs, glazed, solid, etc. The type of extension, what it looks like, how it relates to the existing property, and how it’s constructed all require skill and judgement. Working with an architect will help you work out the best approach for your house. Also, very often, the way you extend your house will require planning approval from the local authority, and this should also be undertaken with an architect.
2) Opening up
Related to point 1 above, you can also change the way a house feels without actually extending, just by “opening up” or “knocking through” rooms from one to another. Maybe you have a number of small rooms on the ground floor of your house? By removing the internal walls, you can create a much more dramatic, large, single multi-purpose room in which a large number of activities can be undertaken.
A note of caution is that while opening up may look straightforward on paper, actually achieving it can be quite different. A structural engineer will need to be involved to ensure that any load-bearing walls that are removed can be compensated for with the new structure. Also, the services (electricity, gas, water, etc.) hidden in the ceiling will need to be rerouted. Another important consideration is that removing internal walls will sometimes alter fire protection in the home, so it could need Building Control involvement. So while it can look easy on paper, actually doing it in a beautiful way that resolves the various issues is much more difficult, and this is where an architect will work out the best solution for you.
3) Adding windows/roof lights
Sometimes a property can be dramatically improved simply by changing the way it relates to the outside world.
Perhaps existing windows are rather small? Or aren’t oriented in a particular direction, when that is where the best view is? Or a space is dark when it needn’t be?
Adding well-placed windows can make an existing space feel larger and more interesting. Similarly, roof lights are a great way of bringing in lots of natural light, views of the sky, or perhaps particular trees or parts of a building above.
Things to consider are that adding new windows can sometimes require planning permission, so they will need to be drawn up and submitted to the local authority for approval. Windows should be carefully placed so they do not overlook neighbouring properties or allow loss of privacy in your home. Windows also change the architectural appearance of a property and can upset or unbalance building façades, so they should be carefully considered to respect the existing architecture.
Paint, flooring, a new kitchen or bathroom, new lighting, and furniture can all have a significant impact on the feel of a home. This is evident in the large interior design industry and the many home makeover programs on TV or online.
These interior changes can often be completed relatively easily as long as your house is not listed, but it is important to use good judgment and coordination to ensure they are done well. This is where interior designers and architects can help. They not only consider the overall design, but also pay attention to the details to ensure everything fits together properly. As the saying goes, “God is in the detail.”
Don’t forget about the outside of your property. Landscaping can make a huge difference to the way a property looks and feels. By adding plants, flowers, trees, or shrubs, you can create a sense of warmth, life, and beauty.
Landscaping can also be functional, by providing shade, privacy, or a place to relax or entertain. By adding patios, decks, or outdoor kitchens, you can create an extension of your living space, making your property feel even more welcoming and enjoyable.
There are many other architectural improvements that can be made to London properties, and the best ones will depend on your individual needs, tastes, and budget. Careful judgement and sensitivity are required, and this is where working with an experienced architect can really help!