Extension Options - what would you do?

We might be in a position to add a single story extension to the house in 6/9months, so i’m just mulling a few things over in my head and looking for thoughts/opinions.

I know i’ll ultimately probably have to go to an architect but just want to get ideas/inspiration in meantime so as not to be swayed towards something the architect wants rather than us.

Anyway house is a 3 bed semi 1100sq ft. Usual layout of living room to front and kitchen diner at back. We knocked the wall between dining room and kitchen when we bought, as we’d never of used formal dining room which we find great (best thing we did).

From quick search image 4 of this house
myhome.ie/residential/brochu … in/1609228

shows similar perfectly - we’ve near identical layout with kitchen to left extending out past wall with french doors to right. We’ve a decent garden to play with (50/60ft).

What we are thinking at present is a separate room - a playroom/tv room. That’s what we feel is missing from the house. To us it makes sense to have it separate so we can pull doors on toys/mess (they are 2) at night and as they grow older they’ve a bit more privacy (closed door) rather than the open plan layout.

Any thoughts on separate room v’s open plan? I think we’ve our mind made up but always open to being swayed by personal experience.An obvious concern with the separate room is the darkening of the kitchen dining area left behind - so we’d be looking at some sort of glass internal doors and a velux or two in playroom to throw light in. We are west facing at back so that’s a help in spring/summer/autumn. the architect might help here too.

The next thought is whether we square off back of house (i.e. take the french doors (soon to be internal glass door) out 6 feet to meet kitchen extension) before we add this room. Worth it for extra space it brings? Any building complications to be considered?

Or does it just make more sense to build room on as is? In relation to this the idea would be to gain extra width on this room by building as close to window on current kitchen type extension as possible - as without doing that we’ll be left with very narrow room.

Re boundary wall, my understanding is we’ve to build inside that? So that’s narrowing things. Can you approach neighbour and get something in writing to possibly build on it and them do the same in future?

Any and all thoughts welcome. Thanks

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Pic 7 & 12 seem to show what we’d possibly end up (less all the plas plus a proper roof) with if we don’t square off back.

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Pic 3 & 6 give same idea less internal doors

I’d suggest that light will be a big complicating issue - the house I grew up in had a conservatory added to the back (similar to your second last link) and there was no issue with light, but the neighbours built a conventional room in the same footprint on their house and the original room was left extremely dark (needed lights on even in the middle of a bright day). Skylights will address that to some degree, I’m sure someone else will have more insight into that. I’d suggest that you’re right to be thinking of skylights at a minimum though.

I’d imagine that your plan to square off and then extend will result in added structural complications (assuming you want to take out the old external wall), but someone more insightful than me can probably put a representative figure on what “complications” actually means in this context.

331 harold’s cross road had a beautiful extension (kitchen on the left and room space on the right).


Now this works given its a period home and the boundary wall is a nice feature.

I understand that some of these glass box rooms can be quiet reasonably priced (aren’t great from a BER perspective) but they look the business and as you’ve a large garden they would have something nice to look out onto (provided you or Mrs Kenny do the gardening!!!).

It’s an idea though.

If this is going to be your home for the foreseeable future, I’d be more inclined to go with something you really like rather than something bog standard which would appeal to every buyers tastes. :-GC

I would go with open plan mainly for light reasons and also for that feeling of space which I like. We only have one child so for us, it would make sense for our small family to be together rather than separate when at home as it’s more social that way. My parents built an extension only half of which was separated and despite sky-lights and a floor to ceiling window in one half, the middle room remains very dark (personally, I think they were let down by their builder…). Anyway, here’s a possible solution for the separate play area of the kids if you really feel they will want privacy when older. When we were kids our dad put a barna shed in the garden especially for our use - he had a garage for himself :slight_smile: - as a ‘playhouse’. If you have room for that, that could be a nice idea. Paint it a bright colour, the kids can decorate inside. You could put cheap IKEA kids table and chairs etc. in it. For winter days when they are older, chances are they might prefer to play in their bedrooms anyway unless that’s something you don’t want.

Good input so far.

Looking at more pictures I think squaring off is out I’d say as I think we’d end up with something like pic 4 here, given the kitchen part is an extension. Then adding on room would be impossible

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The separate room idea comes from pre-conceived ideas

(a) At present it suits to have kids table & chairs in it, arts & crafts stuff, books & toys. Having more open plan space will still leave a lot of this visisble & to be tidied away every night. Having it tucked away/out of sight seems appealing. At present our living room is awash with this stuff.
(b) their bedrooms are not massive so tv room would be handy for them in future - somehwere to hang out jointly, watch tv, bring friends and still have some privacy.
(c) not sure I like the idea of sofa & tv in open plan are where you cook & do homework.

Lack of flow and light being big downsides so getting the thing right will be important.

Tell your architect your concerns - glass panels in rood or a pitched roof with velux windows etc (perhaps he could recommend roof lights or something).

It’s in your benefit now to have it separate now but you could always do something which could be easily converted into open plan in the later years, be it via a folding wall, sliding doors, heavy noise reduction material (like a curtain), removable french doors etc. Even a normal wall could work so long as it’s not a supporting wall.

If you have an open plan kitchen-living you could use that as your main living room and downgrade the former sitting room to playroom status. Otherwise, you might spend most of your time in the fancy new kitchen-living and leave the living room as a ‘good room’ that isn’t actually as good as your new space at the back of the house.

What Ixelles said! It seems that this is what a lot of people end up doing (both versions - either downgraded to playroom or faux-upgraded to unused ‘good’ room) judging by many of the houses we’ve been viewing over the past while. You could turn the old sitting room into a study/ playroom.

Failing that, I know they’re too young now, but in time you could get some good storage solution for toys/ kids’ paraphernalia and teach the kids to tidy up after themselves. Failing that you might just have to embrace the mess that comes with kids and their stuff.

Hi Kenny,

We have basically the same house, looks to be the same size and layout as well, had the exact same concerns as you particularly in relation to light at the kitchen table area, so this is what we did:

We used an excellent builder who designed it all himself so no need for architect, although i believe the rules may have changed since we did ours.

We extended straight out from the double doors about 18 feet, slightly widening the extension right up to the kitchen window once it passes that outside wall.

Light: Big glass window with the apex over the window also glass at the end of the room - maximises light coming in. 2 velux windows close together over the original double doors, lets good light seep in. ALSO, CRUCIALLY, we put a wide velux window in over the kitchen sink (assuming that’s an external roof over it) - that floods the light in, and for only about €200 extra. After all that, it certainly is still a bit darker than before at the kitchen table, but its pretty good - and much brighter than some of the neighbours who have done differently. We never have any issues with having to use lights during day time.

Doors: We took the double doors away, partly to let more light in, but partly to keep it open plan. However, it is not really open plan at all - because the original supporting walls are left in place, it still very much feels like a separate room given the existing walls and pillars from the door. Some neighbours have left the doors, and that’s fine.

Boundary: We get on really well with our neighbours, but the boundary line did cause some discomfort for them, mainly from a reselling POV. We respected that, and kind of agreed to be honest, so thought it best to keep it within, but right up to, the boundary line. Yes you lose 6 inches off the width, but you never had it to begin with so you can’t notice it gone.

Shape: We still discuss today whether we should have squared off the back. Basically 2 things on this - this would have involved significant structural work and a complete overhaul of the kitchen layout. It also would have ended up with a massive open plan area, where we wanted a separate room that the toys can be left out and not ‘in your face’ everynight - actually you’re eye is more drawn to the large window than any mess. We’re happy with the choice, it would have been an extra 10 to 15k to go across the back, no way was it worth that amount in our eyes.

Another point on this - we decked outside and to the front of the extension, in another L shape - this really works with the extension and gives the kids great space outdoors to play on - for some reason it makes the garden way more part of the house. Decks aren’t for everyone, however our garden slopes away from the house so it helps to level the play area whilst disguising the height of the extension at the end.

We tiled all the way through from the kitchen to make the floor seemless.

Few random tips:

Get a satellite cable installed as part of the wiring
Get an outdoor tap and plug socket installed as part of it
You don’t need many lights out there - we went way overboard with the spots
Personal viewpoint, but we kept the extension very much in the style of the house with Apex roof and red slates - I absolutely abhor those glass box type extensions, they look horrendous (IMO!)

The room is very much the kids playroom, satellite tv with freesat installed for CBeebies etc, with L shaped couch and IKEA toy chest things etc. Its perfect, place for them to hideaway and you get to reclaim your living room - so important in a house as tight as these. I use it occasionally to sit and read the papers/watch bbc red button, very comfortable out there.

Best of luck!

Edit - the Glencairn house is very similar to ours - just two difference - we put a much bigger window at the rear, with the apex over the window right up the roof also glassed - makes a huge difference to the light. Tele has gone where the window on the left is, double doors in the same place. And I know decks are out of fashion, but my god that concrete lump outside is horrific! I think you can see that it still is very much a separate room rather than an open plan job.

edit 2 - and an L-shaped couch, always wanted one and it fits perfectly down by the window!

I’ve seen (on tele) sun tunnels used to address dark rooms:
suntunnelskylights.veluxusa.com/ … oductinfo/

Mollser, thanks so much for such a detailed reply. I read it yesterday but will need to read it a couple more times to decipher it fully.

Do you mind if I ask roughly how much it cost you? (PM me if you want). Thanks again.

I have been to both of these and neither seemed dark, althought the TV room in 51 ballaly ave was a bit.
In fact I hope to do a 77 Sweetmount style extn myself

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myhome.ie/residential/brochu … 16/3242866

this one has the rooms kept seperate but the linking rooms within the house “opened up” for light.

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I definitely believe that involving an architect should be viewed as a positive, rather than a last resort. We’re just waiting for a decision on planning, and having the right architect involved was the best decision that we made so far.

I think problems can arise if you assume that all architects are equal and you just pick a name out of a phonebook. Architects are like swimming trunks - not every style works well for every person. I’d definitely advise taking a look at different websites and creating a shortlist of two or three whose work you like. That way, when it comes time to build, you have a designer who has the same beliefs as you already on board. Sure, it will cost a bit more, but a house designed by a builder is like a car designed by a mechanic. It’ll get you from A to B, but will you enjoy the journey?

In terms of keeping it open plan or not, I remember reading how sliding doors were doors designed to be usually left open, whereas traditional doors were usually left closed. Maybe sliding doors might give you that open plan vibe, with the option to close off if needed.

Weird you say that, was thinking the same after seeing pic 3 here. Similar in sliding fashion would make sense.
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Pic 5 here, is another good example of what I was thinking of
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I agree that the idea of making your current livingroom the playroom and designing the new room as a livingroom that is quite open plan from the kitchen/diner. I also have another suggestion re your children’s toys. Also consider playroom interior design and think about not hiding the toys away in a big toy box or cupboard. Toys get absolutely destroyed that way as all the pieces become mixed up and they become unplayable junk in no time. Instead get open shelving with numerous small stool/boxes. All the bigger toys can sit neatly on display on the shelves and the small boxes can be used individually as a block box, an art box, a trainset box, etc. It’s so, so much more practical than toy box/cupboard, it makes your playroom look like a magnificent toy shop, it encourages creativity as it’s so easy for kids to see precisely what they have and leads to unbelievable world building play. And it gently encourages tidiness as kids learn that it’s so much easier to play when they know exactly where everything is so they start putting things back in the right place when they are done with them. My son is only 2.5 and he already tidies up after himself of his own accord and does a surprisingly great job. It also means there is a good chance that his toy sets will stay intact until he outgrows them, at which point I plan to help him sell them online as an early lesson in personal economics.