Used to living in sunnier climes, Kiwi interior designer Philippa Purcell and her husband wanted to bring an open-air feel to their home in Dulwich. With this in mind, they set about adding a light-filled rear extension to their Edwardian property featuring slimline, sliding garden doors.
Here, Philippa talks us through the design process and explains why planning is everything when it comes to future-proofing your home.
Well, the house hadn’t been touched in 30 years so we decided to take it back to its bare bones and renovate the entire property. The project took two years and we finished it in December 2020.
Downstairs, we wanted to create an open-plan, minimal design with a strong connection to the south-facing garden. The extension enabled us to open up the back of the house and create the indoor-outdoor feel we’re used to having grown up in New Zealand. We also incorporated a covered porch area which is typical of the houses in which we grew up.
Instead of building a glass box across the entire width of the back of the house, we created a dog leg to allow for a covered external patio where we can sit outside whatever the weather. It was this decision that led us towards a corner configuration for our glazing with a pocket door to create a space completely open to the garden.
It doesn’t matter whether I’m in inside or outside, I can still enjoy that sense of being outside in the garden. The space works so well for us now. My husband often sits in the bay window when he comes home from work and chats to me about his day. Our kids – who are aged 11 and nine – absolutely love it. They’re always in and out of the garden kicking a ball around or riding on their skateboards. And if the main sliding doors are closed, they love climbing in and out of the windows in the bay area! We installed Ultraline doors as windows here so it’s really useful that they slide open so easily.
I also really love the amount of light that’s drawn into the rest of the house from the glazing. With the three large sliding doors across the back of the house, we took the glazing as high as possible and recessed the curtains in a trough above the doors to hide the tracks. This makes the ceiling look as minimal as possible and keeps the focus on the view of the garden.
Yes, it does. We always have lots of kids here, so that often means there are several families in the house at one time. But the space can take a lot of people and it works so well. It’s a really sociable house. I’m so pleased with what we’ve achieved. I love the house and I love the area. The garden backs onto Dulwich Park so it’s very pretty.
Absolutely. They’re so professional. They offer a great combination of industry experience and motivated, capable installers. Everything was well organised and Dan and the team knew how to manage my expectations in terms of timings and delivery.
Don’t forget about storage! Well-designed storage is absolutely essential for open-plan living, in my opinion. I would always advise building as much of it as possible into your design. We even have hidden storage in the skirting boards under the window seat!
My other piece of advice would be to live in your property for at least a year if possible before you undertake your renovations. That way you can learn how you and your family use the space and how you’re likely to use it in the future. We did this and it really helped me think about how the house might work for us as the kids get older. That’s why I incorporated some separate spaces within the open-plan layout, such as the seat recessed into the bay window.
I’d also recommend extending the overhang of your extension as far as you can. Not only does this give you more protection from the elements, it also gives a sense of the room extending out into the garden. When you combine this with the flush track of the Ultraline sliding garden doors, both the floor and ceiling appear to continue out into the garden, making the space appear larger than it is.
Need help with your extension or garden room? Contact us now to find out more about Minima Sliding’s award-winning, sliding garden doors.