North London house extension by Denizen Works creates a light-filled family kitchen


Architecture studio Denizen Works has remodelled a north London house, transforming the "small dark bachelor pad" into a family home with a light-filled kitchen and dining space.

The brief given to Denizen Works director Murray Kerr was to reconfigure the existing dining room and galley kitchen at the rear of the Islington property, creating a more flexible open-plan space that opens to the garden.

Extension One by Denizen Works

To achieve this, the architect also redesigned the spaces at the centre of the building. By altering the staircase and first-floor bathroom, a higher ceiling could be created for the new kitchen and dining room.

"We realised that the key to the project lay in a slight redesign of the middle portion of the house," explained Kerr, whose previous projects include a house renovation in Scotland's Outer Hebrides.

Extension One by Denizen Works

"We redesigned the stairs and bathroom at first-floor level to raise the ceiling in the dining room, to give a feeling of light and space that compliments the extension out into the garden," he told Dezeen.

Unlike the traditional London stock brick of the main house, Extension One is clad externally with bitumen-stained larch. An oak-framed glass door slides back to open the space up to the garden terrace.

"We felt that the extension should have just two elements on the garden elevation, and that was a door and a wall," said Kerr. "Andy and Claire [the clients] liked the idea of bringing in a bit of warmth to match the other timber in the project, so the large door was in our first sketch of the project."

Extension One by Denizen Works

The ground surface both inside and outside is Spanish limestone, helping to tie the two spaces together.

The clients were initially keen on polished concrete, but eventually chose limestone to ensure a similar quality of finish both indoors and out.

"Andy and Claire spent many weekends sourcing a stone floor that could work both inside and out, and I have to say it really looks fantastic," added the architect.

Extension One by Denizen Works

An L-shaped skylight helps to bring plenty of light into the new room from overhead, through exposed oak beams that match the door frame.

Oak was also used for the kitchen worktop, which wraps around the white cabinets, and for a chunky shelf above. Other additions include a white-tiled splash-back, a large dining table, and a pale blue fridge-freezer.

Upstairs, the new bathroom was designed to a monochrome palette, and also features a skylight above the shower.

Extension One by Denizen Works

Extension One was completed to a budget of £145,000. It was one of three winners of the Most Cost Effective award at the Don't Move, Improve! awards, a competition to find London's best house extensions.

First and second prize were awarded to a project featuring custom-built furniture and a two-storey lightwell, and a playful extension featuring a red brick exterior thought to look like a fox.

Other completed projects by Denizen Works include a wooden sauna on a Finnish island, which can be towed like a sledge over a frozen lake to find the right spot for a plunge pool.

Photography is by David Barbour.

Project credits:

Architect: Denizen Works – Murray Kerr, Huw Williams
Engineer: Price and Myers
Contractor: AB Construction – Alex Baran
Stone floor supplier: Gareth Davies Stone
Bathroom supplier: CP Hart
Kitchen supplier: Mark Plant Kitchens

Extension One by Denizen Works
Original ground floor plan – click for larger image
Extension One by Denizen Works
New ground floor plan – click for larger image
Extension One by Denizen Works
Original first floor plan – click for larger image
Extension One by Denizen Works
New first floor plan – click for larger image
Extension One by Denizen Works
Original section – click for larger image
Extension One by Denizen Works
New section – click for larger image
  • WAN

    So basic on so many levels.

  • Chris MacDonald

    This is really beautiful. I love that the floor tiles run from inside to out, with a beautifully detailed threshold. And the beams look great too.

  • andrewparkeruk

    £145k is music to my ears. I spent just a tiny bit more than that for a much better extension: was concerned I had spent too much.

    • Chris MacDonald

      Do you have pictures of your much better extension?

      • Sim

        Yes, send them to Dezeen for public scrutiny.

    • Andy

      Hi Andrew, the total budget included the whole ground floor, most of which you can’t see in the shots, demolishing the rear and tiny bathroom above completely, levelling off the sloped back garden.

      Rebuilding the back section and new bathroom above with old original stock. The stairs meeting the landing was also raised to give much needed additional ceiling height downstairs. You should see the before pictures!

      The build and decoration budget was approx £123k. The other quotes we got from London builders came in at £155k and a whopping £190k. On top of £123k the rest of the budget was for full new Mark Plant kitchen, full new bathroom, architect fees, engineer and building control etc.

      The house is beautiful and we were lucky to find Denizen Works, just before they won best Home at Grand Designs. It’s worth every penny.

      Many thanks,


  • Sim

    I always feel kind of “cramped” and stressed when seeing extensions like this. It looks lovely but it will really take a lot of discipline from the inhabitants to live here and to keep it (looking) uncluttered. And that really is an architect’s job to see that in the design phase and to help their clients avoid that.

    • Andy

      Hi Sim, as the client we find it remarkably easy to keep the house uncluttered. There’s lots of storage elsewhere and the kitchen has lovely deep storage designed by Mark Plant kitchens.

      All we do is fill the dishwasher each night and pack dry pots and pans away easily the next morning. We also have a toddler who uses the middle of the house, which Denizen Works opened up creating loads of space between the kitchen and the snug.

      The house is beautiful and calm and spacious most of the time (when we’ve cleared the toys up). We worked with Denizen Works to avoid gimmicky architecture most architects would use as a showcase. Denizen Works designed is a spacious home in a small two up two down. We’re really happy clients.

    • Andy

      Hi Sim, as the client I can tell you it’s never cluttered or looks cluttered, even with a toddler, who uses the middle section between the area you can see and the snug at the front of the house. This was opened up quite extensively.

      It always looks spacious, uncluttered and serene, especially at night. We’re lucky and chose Denizen Works because they live in the real world and steered us away from gimmickry other architects may have pushed for their own portfolio.

      It’s s beautiful house, although you can only see photos of the back section and part of the bathroom. We’re chuffed to bits.

      Kind regards,


  • marmite

    Great to see the client getting back here. Thanks Andy.