Do you need a bigger kitchen?

Have you ever found yourself standing in your kitchen wishing you just had a little more space? Perhaps you’ve run out of storage or you’re finding it impossible to knead a lump of dough because you lack worktop space. It could be a case that you simply feel cramped and struggle to move around when the kids pile into the kitchen to see what’s in the oven. Whatever the reason making you long for more space, how do you investigate the possibilities without spending thousands on an architect?

Love thy neighbour

The Town and Country Planning Order of 1995 increased the rights of a householder to make uncontentious alterations to their home. This order doesn’t mean you can do as you please, but it does outline a range of extension options that can pass through local authority planning via a process called “Permitted Development”.

Before I go any further, regardless of the freedoms that now exist, one aspect of urban living remains the same as ever. That is to think about the impact your actions will have on those who live around you. Please! If you are thinking about extending your home, engage with your neighbours at an early stage. It’s the right thing to do and it an open conversation could prevent arguments down the line.

Rear extensionBuilding an extension could cause considerable disruption to you and your neighbours.

Now, back to the blog…

A quick look at Permitted Development

Permitted development or “Lawful Planning Applications” are different from “Full Planning Applications” in that they abide by strict size and positioning restrictions. Under these rules, modest extensions to the rear and side of your property are likely to pass through local authority scrutiny with minimal interference (and a lower cost). It’s all about dimensions and distance from boundaries. Here is a link to the Welsh Government’s summary report on permitted development. It outlines the rules and offers some visual examples of what’s allowed. It’s not a legal document but it’s a great staring point. Click the link and take a look:

If you need more information, it’s well worth contacting your local authority’s building regulations department. In my experience, they are always helpful and welcome preliminary enquiries.

Do you really need to extend?

Would a modest extension to your home make a considerable difference to the way you live? Or would you do better to simply reconfigure the kitchen you have? Over the years I’ve seen thousands of poorly designed kitchens that were fixed with a simple layout change. Higher capacity cabinets and integrated appliances are a simple solution and great way to reduce clutter. 

Another popular solution is to remove a partition wall. The separate dining rooms that were so popular in the 1980’s are a perfect way to create an open plan kitchen diner. I removed my dining room partition over a decade ago and it changed family living forever. 

Kitchen wall removed for open plan living

Removing a partition wall is a great way to open up a small kitchen.

As long as you aren’t making any structural changes to your house, you are free to knock through and realise your dream. If the dining room wall is structural, you’ll need to seek advice from your local planning authority and a structural engineer. I’ve gone into more depth in the following blog post:

Where to begin?

There are options for every scenario but where should you start? Do you attempt to visualise the space yourself or do engage an architect? If an extension or a knock through aren’t an option, do you simply browse Pinterest for ideas or seek help from an interior designer?

It all depends on what you’d like to do and how confident you feel about taking on the project yourself. There are no negatives in doing your own planning and research. In fact I would always recommend a period of reflection before engaging with any professional. There are fabulous resources online. Platforms such as Houzz, Pinterest and Instagram to name but a few.

Once you’ve built a healthy scrap book of ideas and have a direction in mind, you can take the next step and seek professional advice. But, bringing in a professional advisor will cost you money. Architects and interior designers charge fees that you’ll need to pay for. Their fees are payable regardless of the outcome. I’ve met many people who’ve commissioned an architect (costing around £2000.00), paid for a full planning application and then done nothing. Yep, £2k for process that went nowhere. I’ve also met people who’ve commissioned an interior designer on the strength of their glossy website. Only after the money was handed over did they realise the designer had no spacial awareness or kitchen design experience.

Finding more cost effective advice

So, if architects and interior designers require a fee up front, is there an alternative way to get professional advice without an expensive outlay? The answer is “yes!”.

I was recently approached by a family who wanted to explore the possibility of extending their kitchen. The house itself was relatively new and they wanted a clear visual representation of how the kitchen might work with a 3m extension into the back garden. They didn’t want to go to the expense of an architectural drawing and asked if I could help.

Whilst I’m not an architect, I can create plans, elevations and 3D renders of kitchen design ideas. As a result I was able to help this family explore the options and decide wether an extension would be worthwhile or not.

kitchen without extension

Does this kitchen need an extension?

Kitchen with extension

Here's how the same room could look with a small extension.

We explored a number of options and the exercise proved to be very worthwhile. As it turned out, the extension idea was rejected. The extra space simply wouldn’t have given them the value they wanted. In the process, they saved themselves a considerable design fee and were free to explore ways to improve the space they already owned.

It was a win, win all round. Feel free to take a look at the work we did:




If you can find a kitchen designer with the right credentials and ability, it’s worth making contact. A good designer will supply you with the visuals you need and the cost will be far less that an architect’s fee. Additionally, If you choose to go ahead with the design, you’ll be able to offset the kitchen designer’s fee against the cost of the kitchen. In other words, you’ll end up with all of the interior design work completed free of charge.

What’s not to like?

Categories: kitchen design