Louise Perkins and her husband Jonny are no strangers to tackling significant building projects. When they went to see a ‘doer upper’ house on the outskirts of Reigate in Surrey, they knew they could transform it into a fabulous home.
Here, we chat to Louise about how they squared off what had been a u-shaped house by adding a one-storey eat-in kitchen extension. The room is flooded with natural light using Minima’s frameless sliding doors and two fixed glazed panels. These have been installed within a brickwork frame with striking results.
This was a probate sale within a 15-minute walk of Reigate’s high street which we went to visit in May of 2020. As the lockdown restrictions were still in place, we were only allowed inside the property with the agent one at a time but that didn’t matter, we could see the potential already.
The house dates from the 1880s and was previously a coach house to a larger property up the road. In 1957, it was split off and converted into a home. Prior to that, horses would have been stabled on one side with workers living in the other.
Quickly we realised that by filling in the void at the front of the house formed by the u-shaped footprint of the property, we could have a stunning kitchen living room overlooking the garden.
It wasn’t the first time we’d tackled a full-house project so we used the same local architect that we’d worked with before and asked him to draw up some plans. He has lots of experience maximising space in historic properties as well as dealing with the local planning department.
The house hadn’t been touched in decades which meant we had to strip the internal space back. Everything seemed to date from the 1950s and 1960s. There were a few old-style round-pin sockets and the previous owners had existed on attaching extension leads into extension leads—it looked like a serious fire hazard!
Together with the architect, we decided to build a single-storey extension with a very large 5.5m glazed opening with sliding doors to connect the kitchen to the garden and then have two fixed panes on the adjacent façade. Both the sliding doors and the fixed panes would be set within the exposed brickwork to tie in with the external aesthetic of the rest of the house.
The original drawings that our architect came up with included bifold doors as that’s what we had in our previous house. But having lived with them for ten years, we decided there was too much frame interrupting the views. What we really wanted were doors with the minimal sightlines. By chance, a leaflet from Minima Sliding came through the door. As we were travelling to Kent to see the Tom Howley showroom—the designers of our kitchen—we thought we’d stop by Minima’s showroom.
It’s simple, really: we liked the product. I’m a stickler for details and, at the time, they had the thinnest frames on the market (20mm). Also, there’s no handle when you close the doors which means an absence of any clunky hardware getting in the way. We also really liked the seamless electric locking mechanism in the head of the door unit.
Having completed a huge project before and worked with a lot of trades, we’ve got plenty of experience under our belts. The Minima team has been amazing. In my professional life, I go and see businesses all the time and am used to asking all sorts of questions. When we went to see the showroom, I wanted to go into lots of details about the company as well as the doors themselves. The team was able to answer all the specifics of my questions and were reassuringly knowledgeable about the product.
The other thing that differentiated them from other glazing companies is the quality of communications. It’s so efficient. We talked on WhatsApp; images were sent via Dropbox and documents were emailed through instantly as pdfs. Any queries we had we could talk through on a screen. It’s all very different and so much easier than dealing with other companies who haven’t engaged so comprehensively with technology.
When our builder saw the spec that the Minima put together prior to the installation of the doors, his initial thought was that it was a bit over the top. However, I was happy that they were focussed on the details and the technical specifications required—they wanted to leave no surprises.
When it came to the installation day, the team got waylaid on a previous job that was proving difficult and were late. However, not only were they good at keeping us updated on their journey, they also were prepared to work late into the evening to ensure the windows were fitted. They came fully prepared with floodlights!
On their own accord, they also communicated with our builder to let him know what they’d done. Then, after they finished, we received a box of chocolates. Overall, the customer experience was an extremely high standard, a very modern approach for a glazing supplier.
We’re fortunate to be surrounded by greenery which we can enjoy all year round from the kitchen. While in the winter, we’ll tend to go and sit in the snug with the log burner, we do spend most of the time in the summer in the kitchen or on the terrace outside.
With our previous bifold doors, we had to be careful when the wind picked up but that’s no longer a concern with our new doors. They are easy to open—they aren’t heavy to move—and we can lock them at any point to keep a flow of fresh air coming into the house. We also appreciate that the locking mechanism used meets the highest standards in terms of security.
Yes, in fact we already have recommended them to friends locally here in Surrey!
Need help with your newbuild or extension? Contact us now to find out more about Minima Sliding’s award-winning sliding doors