Side return extension

Inspiration and ideas

Side extensions to houses and garden flats are a great way to add space on the ground floor where the kitchen and utility areas were traditionally placed. At this early stage we encourage you to follow a three step process of thinking about the type of extension you want, considering some design aspects, and then looking for inspiration to cement your own ideas. Below we have selected some projects to lend architectural inspiration and design ideas for your side extension.

Architect designed Putney Wandsworth SW6 kitchen house extension Connecting to the rear garden Side extensions London | Home design
Architect designed rear house extension Herne Hill SE24 Lambeth – Kitchen 200x200 Side extensions London | Home design
Architect designed house extension Highbury Islington N5 Dinning and living areas Side extensions London | Home design
Architect designed house extension Grange Park Enfield N21 Outside view Side extensions London | Home design
Design aspirations

One of the most common challenges in a full side extension is that it will often result in blocking the light coming in from the door/window that exists at the rear part of the elevation.

The most common way of solving this is by allowing for rooflights to the new side roof. The further back the rooflights are the better it is since natural light can reach deeper into the floor plan and help to define a new dining or kitchen area at the rear part of the house or flat.

Another good solution is to avoid building up to the rear door/window. This creates the opportunity for what we describe as an ‘external room’, a landscaped courtyard between the existing house and the new extension.

Remember it is always possible to open up the wall between the front and rear reception rooms and bring light from the front room into the middle room while at the same time creating long views across the ground floor.

During the design development stage we will get to explore lots of ideas but you can start the process now by considering answers to questions as such:

“Should we build to the boundary, or is it possible to retain access to the garden from the front of the property by building an extension that is less wide?

“Is there a manhole cover in the side area, and what will happen to the existing drainage and soil vent pipes in this area?

“How can we maximise the light from the side extension, and should we go for a flat roof or a pitched roof?

“How can we rearrange the kitchen, and will there be enough space for an island unit?

“How will the second storey of the side extension relate to the rest of the first floor layout?”

“Is there a bedroom on the ground floor that we wish to retain a window for, and should we go for a full side or a partial side extension?”


Side Extensions | Side extensions can be either single storey (for reasons really unknown, they are often called “side returns”) at the side/rear part of the property, or double storey across the whole of the side part of the property.

Subject to planning approval, two storey side extensions often include the conversion of a garage on the ground floor and building on top of it to add more bedrooms and bathrooms to the existing first floor.

Lean-to Extensions | Lean-to extensions are small side extensions, often with a pitched roof that offers supplementary space to what used to be the utilitarian part of the house and where most kitchens are now located.

For single storey side extensions a key decision is about the roof profile.

Tiled or slated pitched roofs with standard rooflights tend to appear more in-keeping with the existing property, and they reduce the effect of the extension to the neighbouring property; such extensions can be fully glazed creating a contemporary feel to the new space added.

Flat roofs add a more modern feel and they tend to provide greater internal headheight and a more generous sense of space. They can be fully glazed or partially glazed depending on cost, aesthetic preferences, and the position of any high level kitchen units in the area immediately underneath the roof.

GOAStudio | London residential architecture and interior design is an award-winning practice, specialising in architectural services for residential projects across London. 

Our architectural team aims to provide a friendly and professional service. Our approach is based on carefully considering the particular aspects of each scheme before coming up with a creative way for our clients to instil their unique stamp on what we do and how we do it. Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) and Architects Registration Board (ARB).

Awards + Achievements

GOA AWARDS Side extensions London | Home design

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GOA300 Side extensions London | Home design

GOAStudio London residential architecture limited

We see ourselves as creative problem solvers who will deal with any construction, planning, and design issue relevant to your project.

GOAStudio @ Hoxton Mix, 86-90 Paul Street, EC2A 4NE, Hackney

GOAStudio @ Chestnut Avenue South, E17 9EJ, Waltham Forest

t: 0203 984 3005
e: george@

ARB e1478972573319 Side extensions London | Home design RIBA Side extensions London | Home design

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