Achieving a light and airy feel in the basement of a flat is not always the easiest of tasks. The design of many older buildings that include basements as part of the living space were not designed with access to natural light as as key consideration. The tricky nature of renovating and extending a basement means architectural firms can now specialise in this type of renovation, with the proper know-how and experience to get the most out of this unique part of the home.
Shape Architecture from London, have tackled a number of basement projects in the past, and it was for this reason they were recommended by a previous client to take the reigns for this extension and garden redesign project.
Just off the Kings Road in Chelsea lies Redesdale Street, a residential street not unlike others in this desirable pocket of London. This apartment was crying out to be remodelled, with the brief calling for access to more natural light, and to employ more energy saving measures. With a new side return extension, new lightwells and skylights, as well as thermal linings in the walls, and new energy efficient lighting, the brief was indeed fulfilled.
On the ground floor we see here, a side return extension was added to establish an easier to work with, and more sensible rectangular shape. What is a side return extension, you may ask? Well, the side return is the often dark and damp walkway that runs the length of a house, as an access between the front and rear of the property. All too often these spaces are left unused, and an extension of the house itself onto this small but useful space is one of the cheaper types of home extensions. Not only do they add extra living space, but they also add value to a property when the time comes to sell. Victorian terrace homes such as this one are the perfect candidate for this type of renovation, and we are seeing more and more of these as Londoner's look to utilise every inch of available space.
There are three distinct sections to the newly designed lower ground floor; a living space which is visible in the image above, and a dining area and kitchen which we can see here. The large kitchen island creates a central space for cooking, with living and dining areas at either end.
Attending to the brief of the client, a skylight was added to the roof of the extension, inviting natural light into new living area. With plenty of access to light through the skylight and the glass sliding doors that connect the inside to the garden, the ground floor is forever bathed with as much sun as the British climate will allow.
The level of the garden has been lowered to reduce the number of steps needed to reach the garden, and to allow for a more seamless flow between the indoors and out. To create a more environmentally conscious renovation, thermal lining has been added to the existing brick walls, improving their thermal performance.
Moving to the basement, we can see one of the lightwells that help to light enter this level of the home. Without the installation of a new lightwell that attracts light to the basement, this area could only be illuminated with artificial light.
The basement bathroom is one of only two rooms which are without natural light, but as you can see, large mirrors and soft tones of artificial light are more than sufficient. Often bathroom lighting can be harsh when there is no access to no natural light, but this is not the case here. For an even moodier feel, the ceiling lights can be switched off, leaving the lighting hiding in the cabinet recesses to create a intimate and relaxed feeling.
Hopefully this extension project has shown you just what is possible in an apartment with a basement, with the help of a professional who is experienced in these unique and often tricky living spaces. To see another stunning basement conversion, check out this before and after project of a basement apartment in Bayswater, London.