Modernist – Real Homes

The owners of this house transformed their traditional home by adding a striking modernist extension


theselfbuilder_modernist1If the thought of adding a modern, glass extension to your traditional house sounds too daring for you, take a look at this family home in South London. The elegant yet radically contemporary extension adds another dimension to with the Victorian four-storey building and might just change your mind.

At first Natalie, a garden designer, and her husband Peter Edwards, a lawyer, only wanted to revamp the kitchen. ‘But we knew that we wanted to live here indefinitely so we thought it would be worth spending some money on making our home perfect,’ says Natalie. This meant that the couple didn’t have to worry about impressing potential buyers when deciding on a style for their extension – they could throw caution to the wind. ‘We both wanted a modernist extension,’ adds Natalie, ‘there was never any doubt about that. And I know this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but we like it.’


What’s not to like? Walnut wooden floors sweep down from the spacious hallway to the extension and into a light-filled space. The feel is clean, airy and peaceful. By choosing a design with an inner courtyard, mostly glass walls and a roof dotted with sizeable skylights, the couple have managed to pull light into the heart of the extension.

Natalie came up with the idea of the courtyard with its water feature and plants. ‘I wanted there to be some fresh air in the house, and some kind of division between the extension and the main house,’ she says. The couple’s architect, Manuel Nogueira of And Architects, suggested circular skylights which, as well as injecting light, also introduce welcome curves into a room characterised by its angles.

The main focus of the extension is the glass floor-to-ceiling doors that peel back to transform the space into a garden room in the summer. ‘These doors have wow factor, I really think they’re my favourite part of the extension,’ says Natalie. Each door has a blind embedded between double-glazed panes of glass, which prevents the room from overheating in the summer. The bespoke glass doors are complemented by a minimalist kitchen which provides a streamlined backdrop for entertaining.


The couple admit that the project went considerably over budget – they planned to spend £70,000 and actually spent over £110,000, not including the kitchen units. ‘We realised we would only do this once, and so we might as well do it properly. Sometimes we did choose the most expensive option,’ says Natalie.

Do they have any advice for other grand designers? ‘Even though our architect oversaw everything, we had to be available to make decisions, which was time-consuming,’ says Natalie, and it can’t have been easy with seven-month old Alfie and three-year-old Erin to look after. But having refurbished their home throughout in a modern style when they bought it, the chance to build a sleek and contemporary extension was the icing on the cake. ‘We spend most of our time in the extension now,’ says Natalie. ‘The silver birch tree outside gives a gorgeous effect of dappled light, and a room this modern is perfect for entertaining.


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Words: Yasmine Gibson Image: Jefferson Smith

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