From a small house to a spacious family home

When Suzanne Andrea purchased her two up, two down semi-detached property in picturesque Knebworth, Hertsfordhire nine years ago, it was more than enough space to live comfortably on her own. 

Nine years on, Suzanne is married with two children, and like many homeowners, she has needed that home to grow with her family.

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I used to live in this property myself, but when I got married, my husband Av moved in.

Today, we also have two children and we’ve outgrown the original space.  We were beginning to feel too cramped.  With a serious lack of storage, it felt like the house was really cluttered, with little space to enjoy together as a family,” said Suzanne.

Not only did the Andrea family feel short of living space, they also needed their home to function as an office too with Suzanne, an accountant and Av, her electrician husband, both running their businesses from home. The garage at the back of the house served as Suzanne’s office, while Av worked from the family room, which was also the hub of the house. A truly multifunctional space, this is where most activity took place from family meals to playtime, to rest time and socialising. Every time the family ate a meal, the dinner table and chairs had to be set up and then taken down and stored away afterwards.

With the purchase of a new, larger property too costly, the family decided to renovate by knocking down the garage in the garden and building an extension to the side and the back to create a big, open plan kitchen and dining room, utility room and separate office for Suzanne and Av to share. The extension also allowed the family to create one further bedroom upstairs so that both children could have their own room.  In addition, they added and a further bathroom, enabling Suzanne and Av to have their own en suite.

One of the main challenges occurred part of the way through the build when it was discovered that the foundations might not be strong enough to support the new extension. The Andrea family had to enlist a structural engineer to come and assess the situation. For days, they waited for the report findings, not knowing whether or not works could resume, but luckily the foundations turned out to be safe and the project continued.

The building works took a total of five months and completely transformed the property, doubling the size of the Andrea family home.

One of the biggest differences the renovation made was in changing the small, dark kitchen into an airy, open plan kitchen and dining space, which is now the heart of the home. The days of unpacking and repacking the table and chairs are a distant memory - the family now enjoys a dedicated space for eating their meals together.

Three VELUX Roof Windows were installed into the kitchen and dining room extension, flooding the entire space with natural light. The double doors, which open onto the garden, also brighten the room with daylight, bringing the outdoors in and allowing them to make the most of the views into their garden.

Suzanne explained, “We always knew that we wanted a series of VELUX windows in our family living space. The products have a great reputation and we needed a solution to open the room up and bring in more light. Having the VELUX windows really brightens the entire space and means that it benefits from the natural ventilation as well. I find that we spend a lot of time in this room, as we love the feeling of being surrounded by so much natural light, especially in summer when the days are longer.”

Upstairs, Suzanne and Av had a VELUX Sun Tunnel installed in the landing to bring natural light into the enclosed space. Suzanne explains, “The sun tunnel has made a massive difference – it’s like a completely different landing. It’s really refreshing to walk upstairs and be hit by a deluge of light.”

Although the experience of managing the project build had its challenges, the overall results have changed their lives.

Suzanne added, “Having all of this space and light has made family life so much easier and more enjoyable. Looking around, I cannot believe that it’s the same house – it looks and feels like a different home all together. We couldn’t be happier.”

From a London house to a family home

When Tania and Mike Voaden bought their stylish home in Kentish Town, North West London, 15 years ago it had everything they were looking for. The location, on a quiet cul-de-sac, the period features, persevered thanks to the street’s conservation status, and the space, two sizeable bedrooms, ticked all of the boxes for this new family.

As Tania and Mike’s family has expanded to include three children, now aged 10, seven and four, the once spacious house began to feel cramped. The Voadens were left with a difficult decision – they could either move to a bigger house, or renovate the much loved family home to suit their new needs.


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When my husband and I bought this house 15 years ago it was the perfect size and location

“Even after our first child, we had enough space. But by the time our third child arrived there just wasn’t enough room to live comfortably and we felt we needed a bigger area for our children to play and to grow. We also wanted another bedroom for the kids, so they didn’t have to share one small room. We were left with a bit of a dilemma, but we absolutely love the house, the street and the area and felt really strongly about extending rather than moving altogether.”
Not only did the Voadens feel short of living space, they also felt passionate about creating a lighter and airier home with higher ceilings and more windows, bringing aspects of the outside in.

With no real source of natural daylight, the family was shadowed in darkness and noticed the effects of living in a home lacking in brightness. Mike and Tania grew tired of the clutter and lack of ‘breathing space’ in the house. They knew what they wanted to do, but just weren’t sure how. 
Tania said: “As a family we love the outdoors and the kids have always been active and eager to get home from school to play in the garden, so it was a bit trying at times when we’d come home to a gloomy house in the winter months and they’d be stuck inside a confined space. I also love cooking and spending time in the kitchen preparing family meals, but being in a dark, cramped space meant it was becoming a mundane task rather than an enjoyable part of my day. We were desperate to seek help and advice on how to transform our home to suit our lifestyle.”

With the help of Martins Camisuli Architects Tania and Mike made the decision to create a larger, brighter, open plan kitchen / living room at the back end of their property, to remove a disused and cramped attic to allow daylight to filter throughout the home and to add a third bedroom above the newly created extension.
“Martins Camisuli Architects came highly recommended to us by family friends,” says Tania. “It was fantastic that we were able to see first-hand the quality of their work in a number of homes in the area – it really put our minds at ease that we were making the right choice. We particularly liked the way the team used simple but effective design to make the most of the space available.”

Leading on the project was MD Sebastian Camisuli and one of his first recommendations was to introduce natural light from above throughout the house. 
With Fortess Grove sitting in a conservation area, there were limits on external fenestration meaning that the Voadens were restricted from using large picture windows to allow light in. Sebastian’s solution was to add VELUX roof windows to all three of the bedrooms, the upstairs bathroom and in the newly created kitchen, giving each space a real wow factor. The use of VELUX centre-pivot roof windows in white polyurethane finish allowed for the maximum amount of daylight and fresh air to enter the home, while keeping the look clean and contemporary throughout.

Tania said, “When we enter our home now, we are struck by the sense of space and it has been lovely to come in and leave some of the chill behind while still being bathed in seasonal daylight. I can now head to the kitchen when I’m home from work and prepare food in natural light rather than in the shadowy recess of our old kitchen. The same goes for the kids when they want to play indoors on colder days. They can now enjoy playing inside the home just as much as outside as their rooms are flooded with natural daylight and are kept well ventilated so they feel fresh.”

The addition of just five VELUX roof windows in increasing natural daylight in the home has been a revelation for the family. The Voadens set out to increase their family living space, and what they got in return is a bright and airy home that perfectly integrates both old and new aspects of the building. Both Tania and Mike are now proud to welcome people into the home, with the transformation not going unnoticed by their guests either.

Tania added, “We definitely feel the benefit of increased sunshine and everyone who has been to see the house immediately comments on how light and airy it feels. We’re all feeling the benefits already with all of the rooms now full of natural daylight and fresh air – giving the home the spacious feel we’ve needed for so long. Mike and I are already planning our first party as we know that we have room for guests to move around and enjoy the surroundings and extra space!”