Yellow is one of those colors that instantly puts a smile on your face. Even the smallest clue can flood a space with a sunny feeling – and it was the power of this color that attracted George Woodrow when he designed a kitchen extension for his young family. The large, sociable space he created has left the old American kitchen totally unrecognizable – except for the bright yellow steels that outline the old imprint on the ceiling.
Of course, there’s more to this extension than yellow steels, and George’s thoughtful design is evident throughout the space, from the bespoke woodwork that combines aesthetics and functionality to the carefully considered flow between rooms. Over the next few pages, George explains the ideas behind his project – and how to design a space built with young children in mind.
If you’re thinking about expanding your home, like George and his family, we’ve got plenty of ideas and helpful tips on what to do and where to start.
“The layout we inherited was not the original one – the guy who lived here before us tinkered with it as a DIY project,” says George. “The opening between the dining room and the living room was already there, and the kitchen was a simple kitchen. It led to a pre-1950s utility in the back with a frosted window, which made the house feel like it was totally disconnected from the garden.
The owners Architect George Woodrow, his partner, Rosie, who works in internal communications, and their children Agatha and Sidney
The property An Edwardian end of terrace with three beds in
Project cost £ 142,500 (including the renovation of the first floor)
“Because the hallway led directly to the dining room, the table became a bit of a dumping ground for your return from work. There was no differentiation of zones. The stairs didn’t have a handrail either – a disaster waiting to happen with young children!
“The plot had a long side garden, which provided space for an addition. Although our extension is a wraparound, it is only classified as a lateral return extension. The structure was designed to support a future “pod” attic room above the bathroom. Yellow steels define the outline of the old kitchen and utility.
“We wanted to have as much floor space as possible in the kitchen, so we went with an L-shaped layout without an island. We can still move around in space while the children have toys spread out on the floor. The wall with the boundary is slightly inclined. We played on this by creating storage along it on each side of the bench, with varying depth and width.
“We used wood fiber insulation in the extension. It is made from waste from the wood industry, which allows the building to “breathe”, and it is much healthier for the builders who work there as well as for the residents.
“After some thought, we decided not to have a fully glazed opening onto the garden. Over the past few years, I have seen overheating in the summer become more of a problem, and customers are increasingly looking for more shade for this reason. The only thing I could have changed was to have a roof vent above, rather than a fixed glass – but back then we were weighing the aesthetics of that extra frame as well.
“From a design point of view, all the elements came together later. Whoever created a sense of cohesion painted the steels yellow. The radiators were one of the first purchases we made, but it wasn’t until much later in the project that we decided to change the rusty red steels to match them. I’ve never regretted adding yellow – it’s such an uplifting color and keeps the size of steels from feeling oppressive.
“We used dark green in the living room and playroom as well as the back of the kitchen to tie it all together. Since we don’t have a lot of kitchen items, we use the shelf above the units to display items like plants, clocks, and pictures. ‘
“I know kitchen companies say they spend a lot of the budget on cooking; I tell customers the opposite. If you stretch, the shell is the part you never want to touch. You’ll update a kitchen, but you’ll probably never redo the roof. Our kitchen has a lot of economy touches – we painted the splashback and used plywood for the countertop; with two children, it will get confused anyway!
“My favorite parts of the space are the fun yellow steels and the flexibility of the playroom joinery. We have gained valuable floor space, which is crucial in a mid-size home, and improved our interaction with the outdoors. Kids love to go in and out, and we think we have a real garden now.