05 Jul Dream extension: Your new dining room
To be fair, while there will be some who wish for a new independent ‘best china’ dining room, what most of our clients are actually dreaming of when they ask us to pop round to discuss their dining room extension plans, is an open-plan extension to their lounge or kitchen – a new family eating space or an entertaining area to enjoy with friends.
We love our little soirees and our house parties, our extended family gatherings and our intimate nights in for two. Food is an important part of what makes our home, well, home, and we often want somewhere (other than in front of the telly) to eat it.
The concept of the ‘formal dining room’ is very 1970s. It’s a little like the hostess trolley – something of its era, but no longer relevant. Dining rooms used to be separate rooms, kept closed for all but the most special of occasions, which is why, if you have one of these it’s more than likely to now be just a place where you store stuff.
A dining room seems to be the wrong phrase to use for what we build today, because they’re no longer small, cramped eating rooms, they’re open-plan entertaining spaces where people can sit and talk with you while you’re cooking in the kitchen, or where the adults can chat after the meal is done while watching over the kids playing in the sitting room.
The extension location
When you think of an extension, what comes to mind is often a light and airy opening out of the rear of your property. And while this is what the majority of our clients choose to do, there are two other options available that are all too often ignored. The first is the side return. Many homes were built with rooms at the rear that do not stretch all the way across the back of the property. Sometimes that’s because there’s an unused area behind a garage and sometimes that’s just the way the property was built, with a side return. Utilising this as your extension can often be a cheaper option because two of your four walls will already exist, and planning permission may well be easier to obtain. The other location to consider, though often much more expensive to execute, is a basement extension, digging down to create a whole new impressively open entertaining space.
Scale is important
You don’t need to build big to create scale. Just knocking down an internal wall between your kitchen and dining room to open it up will give you the feeling of space, so any extension, coupled with the right refurbishment work to your existing home, could well offer the scale you’re looking for. The modern home is all about family and friends; it’s about creating a space that is opened up, not closed off into many separate rooms, so when designing your dining room extension, keep all this in mind and work with a builder and architect who are both creative and appreciate your needs.
Let in the light
A dream dining room extension will undoubtedly be an area flooded with natural light. This can be achieved with bifold doors extending across the rear of the property, floor to ceiling glazing along a wall or two, orangery-style ceiling window units, Velux windows in pitched ceilings, or even sun tunnels to channel natural sunlight in, should you have chosen the basement option for your entertaining space. All require design and cost considerations, but one of the most common complaints people have about their homes is that they are too dull and dingy and one of the most common requests we have is to help clients make their homes more light and airy. So it’s important to speak with your architect at length about their plans for letting the light in.
Will I need planning permission?
The answer to this question is ‘it depends’. It depends on what sort of home you have, where it is, what sort of extension you’re considering and the size of it. Listed buildings and conservation areas will add complications, but they do not necessarily rule out work, so the best advice is 1) most small extensions will not require planning permission, 2) if planning permission is needed it’s often not as arduous a task to get approval as you might think, 3) it’s usually best to get advice from a building professional on what you can and cannot do to improve your chances of gaining planning permission the first time around.