It’s no secret that a lot of UK houses are terraced (about a quarter of them, actually). And although there can be minimal space in which to extend, creative home design ideas (or a simple remodelling project) can transform your existing layout into a surprisingly spacious and stylish home.
And let’s be honest: the original layout of most terraced houses – with tiny kitchens and smaller, separate living rooms leading off from one another with minimum natural light – just doesn’t suit modern life.
That leads us to the conclusion that a remodelling project might just transform that dull terraced house into a spacious abode – but what are our options?
The most common layouts of terraced houses feature small, narrow kitchens tucked away at the rear of the house. Sometimes they have direct access out to the back garden, and occasionally they might lead into a separate scullery.
The most popular way to gain a bigger kitchen in a terraced house is to create a side-return extension. This involves incorporating the space behind the dining room, known as the ‘side return’, into the kitchen, adding around 1-2m to its width.
Another idea (which works quite well in larger houses) is to reverse the typical layout of the house, relocating the kitchen to the front and merging it with the middle room to create a large and light kitchen / dining room.
Due to the typical layout of a terraced house, it often happens that there’s a middle room that suffers from a lack of natural light, either because of just one small window or sometimes none at all.
Fortunately you have options. The easiest (and often cheapest) solution is simply to open up this middle room into the front room, creating an open plan living/dining area while simultaneously allowing a generous dose of natural light to flood in from the often-large front window.
And should you not be keen on the idea of two rooms becoming one, consider installing a sliding glass partition or archway between the two to create a more flexible arrangement.
A lot of homebuyers these days expect to find a downstairs WC. But in your quest to find the best space for one, bear in mind that the minimum practical space around standard sanitaryware in a WC is 200mm on each side and 600mm in front.
Although Building Regulations no longer prevent us from having a WC directly off a living room, kitchen or dining room, do ask yourself if this is really a practical solution. Rather consider placing your new WC either off the utility room or a main hallway.
On the other hand, that under-the-stairs space can also be styled up into a modest little WC.
A new cellar might sound fantastic, but keep in mind that terraced streets have a ceiling value and you might never make back the money you spend on converting the cellar in this instance.
And even though you may not need planning consent, a range of other technical difficulties might give you some issues. As most cellars in terraced houses have low ceilings, the floors will need to be excavated to become extra living space.
This involves expensive underpinning of shallow foundations, something that will at least double the cost of converting a cellar with sufficient headroom. And are you really prepared to let costs rise from approximately £750—1,200/m² to around £1,500—2,000/m²?
Plus, don’t forget that these old cellars usually suffer from damp too, and so will need to be tanked, plus light and ventilation will also need to be considered.
Adding an extra bedroom is a sure-fire way to add value to your house. Unless you are planning a loft conversion, the most obvious way of gaining a new bedroom is to add a two-storey extension to the rear of the house.
Although it might sound like it’s going to rock your budget boat, a two-storey extension is actually a very cost-effective method of gaining extra space, working out 20% cheaper to build per m² than single storey extensions. That is because the cost of the groundworks and roof is effectively halved, being spread between two floors.
And don’t forget that you are gaining more space without eating too much into your garden area.
Just remember the final bedroom-to-bathroom ratio. As a general rule, there should be one bathroom for every three bedrooms, so adding a fourth bedroom may also warrant the addition of an en-suite.
Before you start planning, ensure that a loft conversion is actually viable. The amount of space you will have all depends on the height and pitch of the roof.
At least 2.3m of clear headroom is required for an area to be considered ‘usable’, plus there needs to be enough legroom for staircase access too. Here is where an architect or loft conversion specialist will be invaluable, as they can provide you with detailed information on your available space.
It’s also possible to adapt the roof structure to create more usable space, replacing any bulky water tanks with a combination boiler in the kitchen to provide more legroom. But of course you need to determine if the new value and outgoing costs will balance effectively.
Rather speak to local estate agents to determine how much value a loft conversion will actually add.
For more loft conversion ideas, check out our: Beginner's guide to converting your loft into a room.