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Turning inside out

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David Mikhail Architects has transformed part of a classic Victorian terraced house and its backyard into a versatile living space that gives a feeling of outdoor living all year round.

The client grew up in Australia, where outdoor living is part of everyday life, and wanted to bring some of that flexibility into the project.

The house is a traditional Victorian terrace with a small living room, kitchen and a dining room at the back, opening onto a small courtyard garden. The client's brief was for an extension to the dining room and kitchen at the rear of the house, and a flat roof which could be used as a terrace and allow a larger internal space at first floor level.

The scheme has provided a full-height extension, with a new shower room and a study bedroom upstairs, and a large dining area and kitchen downstairs. The entire back section of the house, originally the dining room, was knocked down and rebuilt using much of the original masonry, which is rendered to give the appearance of a new build.

Structural glass forms the walls of the extension at ground floor level throughout the scheme. The alley that ran from the courtyard to the back door of the house is covered in a glass roof, and now forms the part of the kitchen that houses units and worktops. These fittings run along the entire wall and appear to continue out into the garden through the glass wall. The exterior wall and units are identical in finish to the interior, and provide storage and workspace for garden equipment and barbecue.

The client wanted to avoid using wood unless it had a 'Japanese feel' - dark-stained Douglas fir was used for all the wood finishes, and a neat black bamboo border planted around the garden gives an oriental feel to the exterior.

A large door slides back to create one big space and allows dining furniture to be taken into the garden easily. There is blurring of the boundaries between the inside and outside areas, regardless of whether the door is open or closed. A white pebble resin floor throughout the dining, kitchen and garden areas gives a free-flowing feel to the space, and helps disguise distinction between the areas. Exterior wall-mounted downlighters give extra coherence to the scheme after dark.

A tiny gravel courtyard between the kitchen and living room can be accessed via a floor-to-ceiling, centrally pivoting door.

This courtyard sits where the original back door of the house was, and provides ventilation to the living room. It also gives floor-to-ceiling views from the living room through to the back garden.

Inside, the existing staircase is used, and is illuminated by daylight from above through a rooflight that also forms part of the floor of the roof terrace. The shower room is filled with natural light from the floor-to-ceiling frosted glass window and is decked as a wet room. The study bedroom above the kitchen has a corner window to give views across neighbouring gardens and beyond, and a second with three-way folding doors is positioned perfectly to frame an oak tree behind.

The outdoor living theme is continued on the second floor, where a door opens onto a fully decked roof terrace. This is invisible from the exterior as the extension walls continue up to waist height, creating the terrace balustrade.

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