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Cool for cats: how Emil Eve’s extension made a light, relaxed home

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Words:
Emma Perkin

Emil Eve has brought an important sense of calm and environmental awareness to its Douglas fir-dominated extension for two cats and their owners

Who is the project for and what was the brief?

This home extension was designed for a young professional couple and their two beloved cats. Beyond creating more space, including adding a new kitchen and dining area, and a new bedroom, our clients wanted the house to feel relaxed but functional.

The property is a Victorian end-of-terrace house in Peckham, and the project included full interior redesign and refurbishment. We wanted to open up the house while keeping the feeling of distinct, separate spaces with their own identity. As well as the rear extension, we added a glazed timber screen in the piano room and a slatted mirror wall in the courtyard to pull as much light as possible into the rooms and create views through and across the ground floor and gardens, connecting the spaces. Upstairs, a zinc clad roof extension creates a new bedroom with en-suite.

What was the planning situation?

The house sits at the end of a Victorian terrace immediately next to an interesting post-war era brick church. As we were replacing a poor-quality existing rear extension, our proposals were seen in a very favourable light by the planners. 

  • Earthy terracotta tiles in the back garden complement the colour and grain of the Douglas fir.
    Earthy terracotta tiles in the back garden complement the colour and grain of the Douglas fir. Credit: Nick Dearden
  • A glazed screen wall overlooks the new courtyard.
    A glazed screen wall overlooks the new courtyard. Credit: Nick Dearden
  • The spaces are now unified and connected throughout the house.
    The spaces are now unified and connected throughout the house. Credit: Nick Dearden
  • Douglas fir forms the exposed timber structure, large windows and doors.
    Douglas fir forms the exposed timber structure, large windows and doors. Credit: Nick Dearden
  • A small courtyard sits between the piano room and kitchen.
    A small courtyard sits between the piano room and kitchen. Credit: Nick Dearden
  • In the courtyard a concealed mirror between cladding slats seems to extend the space.
    In the courtyard a concealed mirror between cladding slats seems to extend the space. Credit: Nick Dearden
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How did you treat the exterior?

Douglas fir forms the exposed timber structure, large windows and doors, exterior cladding and interior joinery and fittings, which creates a cohesive palette inside and out. The rear extension is splayed to maximise solar orientation. Tall glazed doors and deep-framed timber windows direct natural light and create view lines through and across the house.

All the new external walls are breathable, utilising wood fibre insulation, which has a high thermal mass and creates a healthy internal environment. Earthy terracotta tiles in the back garden complement the colour and grain of the Douglas fir. In the courtyard – between the piano room and the kitchen – a concealed mirror between cladding slats seems to extend the exterior space here while reflecting light deep into the plan.

And what of the interiors?

Douglas fir is the standout material in this project, calm and characterful. Lime plaster is also an essential element of the scheme, breathable and textured so that it catches the changing light throughout the day. On the ground floor, a piano room leads through a small inset courtyard to a generous kitchen and dining space which then looks out onto a walled back garden. The new bedroom upstairs is bright and the en-suite has a feeling of warmth and sanctuary.

Describe one challenge and how you overcame it

Procuring a contractor who could take on a bespoke timber structure as well as bespoke timber external doors and windows was a challenge, but close collaboration between us and the builder was essential for this project and Evoke did a really great job.

  • Breathable and textured lime plaster catches the light throughout the day.
    Breathable and textured lime plaster catches the light throughout the day. Credit: Nick Dearden
  • Tall glazed doors and deep-framed timber windows direct natural light.
    Tall glazed doors and deep-framed timber windows direct natural light. Credit: Nick Dearden
  • Procuring a contractor who could take on a bespoke timber structure, timber external doors and windows was a challenge.
    Procuring a contractor who could take on a bespoke timber structure, timber external doors and windows was a challenge. Credit: Nick Dearden
  • Exterior cladding is also Douglas fir; the structure is breathable and has low embodied carbon.
    Exterior cladding is also Douglas fir; the structure is breathable and has low embodied carbon. Credit: Nick Dearden
  • The oversized daybed is a favourite detail of the project – bright and cosy.
    The oversized daybed is a favourite detail of the project – bright and cosy. Credit: Nick Dearden
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What is your favourite detail in the project?

We love working with natural materials and enjoy refining the detailing of structure, finishes and joinery to achieve a feeling that is crafted yet contemporary. We were particularly pleased with the extra-deep window seat that curves along the full length of the rear extension, and the glazed screen wall between the piano room and the hall. They both bring something a little bit unusual and special. The window seat in particular encompasses the key aims of this project – inspired by the idea of an over-sized daybed it is angled to catch the sun throughout the day creating a space that is bright and light while feeling calm and cosy.

What would you do again next time, and what wouldn’t you?

Sustainability was a guiding principle for the project, with a focus on low embodied carbon materials and breathable construction. We are always looking for ways to push this further both with the materials we use and in our approach to building services and renewables. We love the breathable construction we used here and hope that we can make better use of technologies such as air-source heat pumps in future to avoid using gas and electric boilers.

Emma Perkin is director at Emil Eve Architects
As told to Michele Woodger

Find more house extensions and other homes and housing

  • Credit: Emil Eve
  • Credit: Emil Eve
  • Credit: Emil Eve
  • Credit: Emil Eve
  • Credit: Emil Eve
  • Credit: Emil Eve
  • Credit: Emil Eve
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IN NUMBERS

Total contract cost £392k+vat for the full works (inc loft)
Area 144m2 (+ 34m2 external courtyard spaces)
GIFA cost per m2  £2,722

Credits

Client Private
Contractor Evoke Projects
Structural engineer Price & Myers
Approved building inspector Quadrant Building Control
Polished concrete floor Lazenby 
Timber supplier (Douglas fir) Whitney Sawmills

 

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