​Side extension ideas for your dream home | homify

​Side extension ideas for your dream home

Johannes van Graan Johannes van Graan
Grand Conservatory on a Substantial Channel Islands Property Vale Garden Houses Classic style conservatory Wood White
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Finally decided that your dream home extension is turning into a reality? Congratulations! Now what?

Chances are that you’ve probably already decided right from the start that your new side extension will become a bigger kitchen (or a guest bedroom, or an open-plan living- and dining room… ), but now that the wheels are in motion to actually make that extension a reality, are you sure you’ve considered all the options in terms of side extension ideas? More importantly: have you ticked all the boxes to ensure that your new space will be practical and functional in addition to being super fabulous?

That’s why we’re here; thus, check these side extension ideas to add space and style to your home the right way.

1. Side extension ideas: Is Planning Permission required?

In a lot of cases, you can go ahead with your side extension under your Permitted Development Rights. However, your proposed project needs to meet certain criteria (although this may not be the case in Conservation Areas or an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty): 

• Your extension may not sit forward of the principal elevation 

• The extension should be built using similar materials as your existing house 

• If it’s within two metres of a boundary, the eaves cannot be higher than three metres and not taller than four metres 

• The width of the extension cannot exceed half the width of the original structure. 

Dreaming about a side extension outside of these criteria will require approval from the local planning department. But we always say safety first; thus, check with your local authority before starting any building work.

2. Side extension ideas: Reconfigure what’s already there

Abbots Gardens, N2 XUL Architecture Modern living room
XUL Architecture

Abbots Gardens, N2

XUL Architecture

Adding a side extension (or any extension, for that matter) greatly influences the existing room(s). That’s why, in order to make the new extension work, you need to reconfigure the existing room arrangement to create the optimum layout. 

Think about adding (or removing) internal walls and doorways to achieve the space you want. Consider the position of the entryway and central hallway (which should lead comfortably to all the main rooms) and how these relate to key spaces like the kitchen and living room.

3. Side extension ideas: Consider building up

New life for a 1920s home - extension and full renovation, Thames Ditton, Surrey TOTUS Classic style houses

New life for a 1920s home—extension and full renovation, Thames Ditton, Surrey


Want to achieve maximum value for money with your side extension? How about building over two storeys instead of one? In doing so, the average cost per square metre will be reduced by stretching the more expensive elements of roof and foundations over a larger area.

Another option would be to build an extra storey atop an existing single storey structure (like the garage), but first make sure that the existing foundations and structure are strong enough.

4. Side extension ideas: Contrasting or sympathetic?

When adding an extension, you basically have two options for the façade: a contrasting one that stands out from the main house yet still looks complementary in style, or an extension which looks like it’s always been there. The former is much easier to pull off well.

Should you opt for a seamless extension, make sure you copy all the key design elements like the roof, brick walls, mortar colour, etc. Otherwise it will just look wrong.

5. Side extension ideas: Add a sunroom

Grand Conservatory on a Substantial Channel Islands Property Vale Garden Houses Classic style conservatory Wood White
Vale Garden Houses

Grand Conservatory on a Substantial Channel Islands Property

Vale Garden Houses

As smaller conservatories often don’t require Planning Permission and are excluded from the Building Regulations, they are one of the most popular options when it comes to side extension ideas. But remember that a conservatory can have its drawbacks: it needs to be separated from the house by external doors to reduce energy loss, and it can be difficult to heat in winter and keep cool in summer.

The alternative? Build a sunroom – an extension with large areas of glazing, but with a conventional insulated roof and typically one insulated wall (particularly the one facing the boundary). This new space can be open to the rest of the house, and the temperature can be controlled much easier.

6. Side extension ideas: Linking separate spaces with glazing

North facing glazing overlooking rear garden Capital A Architecture Modern living room
Capital A Architecture

North facing glazing overlooking rear garden

Capital A Architecture

When extending a period home, it can be tricky to find the right design that complements the existing house style. One solution is to add the new space as an entirely separate building in a sympathetic style (either traditional or contemporary) and to link up the two with a fully glazed walkway.

With structural glazing, it is entirely possible for such a link to be constructed totally from glass. This reduces its visual impact and leaves the original building’s character unchanged.

7. Side extension ideas: Maintain your privacy

Original Stained Glass Window Blue Cottini Modern bathroom
Blue Cottini

Original Stained Glass Window

Blue Cottini

One of the key ingredients in a successful extension is adding lots of natural light. Where a potential new window will look out onto a neighbour or side alley, consider using obscured glazing. This provides the full benefit of daylight without anyone being able to look in or out.

Traditional options include textured or stained glass and glass blocks. For a more contemporary style, go with acid-etched or sand-blasted glass and coloured glass.

8. Side extension ideas: Add feature lighting

Living room by WN Interiors WN Interiors + WN Store Modern living room
WN Interiors + WN Store

Living room by WN Interiors

WN Interiors + WN Store

Of course artificial lighting also need to be mentioned. A brilliantly designed lighting scheme will give your new side extension a great atmosphere, allowing you to use the space for different activities. Independent control of each circuit using dimmer switches or smart switches with preset options is essential.

In addition to ambient lighting that provides basic background lighting for those everyday tasks, opt to include accent lighting in the form of directional spotlights, uplights, downlighters, wall sconces, table- and floor lamps, etc. And be sure to add decorative lamps, (like ceiling pendants) for example, above a kitchen island or dining table to highlight the space. 

There’s an entire world of possibilities with side extensions, so make sure you cover all your bases before settling on your final choice. And enjoy!

For your inspiration, we present this Luxury British kitchen extension.

9. Side extension ideas: Making a separate space

Your side extension doesn't just have to be an extension — it can be a whole new abode. If you're working from home, you may want a whole separate area dedicated to work. Having a small kitchen to put the kettle on for tea whenever you like is an excellent idea. And allowing yourself the space to work in a well-lit area can be life-changing. You don't have to make too many changes from a normal extension, but it will be nice to have the option to change this into a small apartment-like room that you can rent out in the future.

While we may not work from home forever, a new extension could give you a new lease on your working life and pay itself back down the road. Consider speaking to a professional about your options for building a side extension; they can help you with ideas and layout. What kind of side extension would you install in your home?

And if you're looking for ways to be more sustainable in your next project, consider these tips!

​What to know about removing internal walls
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Planning on adding a side extension to your house? What will it be used for?
Whitton Drive GK Architects Ltd Terrace house

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