Kitchen extension ideas – to maximise the potential of your extended space

If you're struggling for space, creating a larger kitchen with a new extension could be the answer
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  • Looking for beautiful kitchen extension ideas? Our showcase of light and bright kitchen extension ideas will inspire and help you create your perfect scheme, transforming a cramped layout into an inviting modern space for cooking, dining and family time.

    One of the most popular building projects for homeowners, the kitchen extension can create a big open-plan living space for cooking, dining and lounging.

    A must-have in new properties and one of the top remodelling projects in period homes, the generous open-plan kitchen is now the epicentre for modern living. There are several ways to scale-up space, from combining adjoining rooms or adding a conservatory to building a completely new room or digging out the basement. Be under no illusions, all options require time and money but, once the dust has settled, it’s a decision many celebrate.

    Do you need kitchen extension ideas and planning advice? READ: Kitchen extensions – how to design, plan and cost your dream space

    Kitchen extension ideas

    A kitchen extension has the potential to totally transform your home. But it’s a big expense, and one that requires a lot of thought and consideration. As well as boosting your home’s floor space, a cleverly-conceived project also has the potential to increase your home’s resale value – making it a wise investment.

    1. Create a thoughtful layout

    kitchen extension

    Image credit: Studio Varey/Alexandria Hall

    Architects Studio Varey transformed this charming semi-detached North London home with a sleek new kitchen extension. A newly open-plan ground floor houses a modern kitchen /dining space, extending out into the back garden, that takes inspiration from orangery ideas with its large skylight.

    ‘The new space is filled with natural light from both the large skylight positioned over the dining table, as well as the expansive glass doors that allow this family to bring the outside in and maximise the home’s connection to the garden’ say the design experts. The kitchen design features composite countertops and a large run of tall cupboards, which have created over 50 per cent more usable storage, a key request for this family home.

    2. Form a relationship with the outside

    rear extension with glass doors

    image credit: Chris Snook

    The kitchen is the ideal place to add a  glass extension with folding doors to open the indoor space to the outdoors. This form of extension is ideal for preventing a small kitchen from feeling enclosed. This Edwardian house features a modern rear extension which allows the kitchen-dining area to seamlessly flow into the beautiful garden beyond.

    3. Envision how the space is best used

    white kitchen with glass roof extension and black kitchen island

    Image credit: Colin Poole

    The main objective with this kitchen extension was to create a spacious kitchen with the island and dining table taking centre stage. ‘We used Resi, an architecture practice, to secure planning permission,’ explains this homeowner. ‘We produced several different layouts on graph paper, detailing the dimensions for the space needed – for things like walking between the island and kitchen units. And what might be required for the seating area.’

    ‘It was a fairly straightforward design using planed structural timber, double-glazed panels and power-coated aluminium capping. In fact, it was probably cheaper than a slate and Velux alternative and allows plenty of light to flood in.’ The combination of a glazed pitch roof and large steel-style windows and doors provide a bright, airy feel to the kitchen.

    4. Mix materials

    blue kitchen

    Image credit: Colin Poole

    Use a mix of materials to get the best from your kitchen extension. Allow a brick extension to extend the space, retaining structure and warmth within the framework. But pair the brick with steel framed doors that offer an airy feel, allowing the outside to integrate with the indoor space. Further use of glass with a roof lantern adds a contemporary edge to the design, that floods the main kitchen area with natural light.

    5. Create a multi-purpose space

    kitchen extension idea

    image credit: David Giles

    At the planning stages work with your architect to create a space that can provide the perfect balance for your lifestyle. A smart kitchen extension that can seamlessly integrate cooking, dining and socialising is a great way to use the space – especially when working from a small floor plan.  Using larger furniture pieces to help create the different zones is an ideal solution, to save on structural divisions

    6. Make the walls retract

    kitchen extension with sliding doors to garden

    Image credit: Future PLC

    Consider an extension that allows a seamless fusion of outside and inside dwellings. Sliding doors, which all but disappear, are the best way to completely open the space up. Making the new configuration a welcome extension of both the kitchen and the garden. Aside from having the freedom to unit the spaces in summer, in winter the glass structure allows maximum light capacity – to keep the space feeling open and airy, ideal in smaller kitchens.

    7. Double the size by repurposing a side return

    kitchen side return extension

    Image credit: Veronica Rodriguez

    Use redundant space from a side return to create extra space for an open-plan kitchen and dining area. The extra footage will allow adequate room for a more comfortable living arrangement. The extension also opens up the possibility to put in skylights and doors across the back to create a further sense of openness.

    8. Use glass to balance the light

    kitchen extension

    Image credit: Polly Eltes

    This period village house is enhanced by a contemporary glass extension and modern interior. Extending out a few metres beyond the boundary wall is enough to completely open the ground floor space. Where the garden is at a higher level to the ground floor the use of glass across the entire rear extension helps to ensure the sunken space isn’t dark and enclosed.

    9. Adapt the space to fit the new normal

    kitchen workspace and bar

    Image credit: Future PLC

    Our homes have never had to work harder to incorporate our growing needs. Kitchens have always been considered the heart of the home – and in 2021 they are very much so, as they become home offices, restaurants, classrooms and more. Not to say how we live now will stay, but designers are most definitely sensing this will influence how we use the space in the future. An extension can pave the way for a reconfigured layout that complements your ‘new normal’ lifestyle.

    10. Use extended glass panels to let the light in

    Kitchen extension with glass sliding doors

    Image credit: Colin Poole

    Lose a wall by installing glass panels and folding/sliding doors for a space that opens up completely to the garden beyond. This smart extension doesn’t go out further, it uses the space vertically to flood the room and incorporate the garden.

    Pick and position wall and base units by thinking about the outside space too. Here the honeyed tones cabinetry helps to draw the eye up and out, while the lower cupboards are grounded by a darker hue. All the design aspects work in tandem to open up the space, without having to make a larger footprint for extending. A high traffic throughway will need a hardwearing floor so choose a durable dark-tiled version.

    11. Unify the ground floor through thoughtful decor

    Image credit: Polly Eltes

    Extend your kitchen thoughtfully by extending your decor from room to room, so one living space flows seamlessly through to the next. This elegant open-plan kitchen space uses a coordinating colour palette with the sitting room at the front of the house. Along with light fittings and flooring choices that feel at harmony with a living room decor.

    12. Put safety first when thinking of the layout

    new normal kitchen 1

    Image credit: Chris Snook

    Essential if you have small children in the house, the most efficient and safest layout will route traffic away from your oven and hob to ensure kids aren’t likely to get themselves under your feet and into danger when you’re moving hot pans around the room. Make the fridge accessible but don’t put it at the very heart of the room. Try placing it to one side, nearest the entrance to the room, so children can help themselves to drinks without venturing into the cooking space.

    13. Incorporate structural elements

    Instead of trying to hide structural steel beams, turn them into part of the design. In this instance the black patio window frames and black steel beam bring balance and interest to this simple white kitchen.

    14. Create a viewing room

    kitchen extension with dining table overlooking garden

    Image credit: Brent Darby

    If you have extended into your garden space, make the most of lovely views. Let the windows be the star of your decorating scheme and wherever possible place furniture where it can oversee your outdoor space.

    Keep a decorating scheme pared back, and simple so the view is always foremost. Go for matching neutrals across the board with simple decorative touches, a reclaimed table and eclectic chairs. Use glass wall lights for added character at night time.

    15. Be brave with clashing colour

    Image credit: Lizzie Orme

    Your newly reconfigured kitchen is the ideal place to use colour. But be sure to thinking about the long-life factor. Love pink, the colour of the moment but scared it will date quickly? Why not experiment with a small section of the wall above the tiles? After all, it’s not a huge deal if you decide to change it at a later date. The key is using a clever combination of materials to create a colour clash.  Dilute block colour in a kitchen by separating bold shades with patterned tiles, different shades on cabinets and through accessories.

    16. Make storage attractive and accessible

    Image credit: Colin Poole

    Don’t want to waste time rummaging for things in the backs of cupboards? Create an open shelving system, like the one in this U-shaped kitchen idea, and you’ll have utensils, cookery books and other items that you frequently use to hand when you need them.

    17. Welcome warmth with brick

    Image credit: David Parmiter

    If you’ve built a new wall or relocated one as part of your extension leaving the bricks exposed on the inside will give your kitchen character and warmth. Reclaimed bricks look best as the irregularity of colour and texture will pick up other tones in your cabinetry and flooring.

    18. Extend out with a side return

    Kitchen extension ideas

    Image credit: David Giles

    Extending out to the side is a good option if you live in a semi-detached or detached home, as it doesn’t mean using garden space. You may lose side access to your garden though, and planning permission can be trickier as it will be determined by how close you are to you neighbour’s boundary.

    For period terraced homes the path or back garden to the side of a kitchen at the rear, called the side return can be extended into to create a kitchen that runs the full width of the house. Remember, though, to consider how light will then reach the rooms the new space will extend over. You can also combine rear and side extensions for a stunning wrap-around kitchen.

    19. Consolidate storage

    kitchen extension ideas

    Image credit: Richard Gadsby

    Plan your kitchen extension storage with care. If you have the space, it pays to keep cupboards to a specified area rather than have them dotted all around.

    In this impressive extension, base and wall units have been banked together on a single wall and long, full-width island. This not only keeps everything close to hand at the busy, business end of the space, but allows you to co-ordinate your colour scheme – in this case, a dark-grey matt paint finish.

    Want more kitchen ideas? READ: Kitchen cabinets – what to look for when buying your units

    20. Use a peninsula as a divider

    kitchen extension ideas

    Image credit: James French

    Define the different functions of your extension with well placed units. If you have extended out into your garden from the back wall of your house, the line of the old wall will quite often make a natural dividing point for the new extension.

    Here, a rigid steel joist and window mark the spot. The worktop below houses a sink, a couple of cupboards and a mini breakfast bar and divides the working kitchen from the dining and sitting area overlooking the garden.

    21. Consider glazed doors

    kitchen extension ideas

    Image credit: James Merrell

    In larger extensions with high ceilings you may feel you need more than furniture to divide up an open-plan space. These full-height sliding glazed doors are a revelation, adding smart, defined verticals to the design and marking a change of function between kitchen and living areas without screening anything from view.

    Low-hanging pendants and fabulously tall storage emphasise the height of this space, with cornflower blue paintwork and slate wall tiles uniting the decorative elements.

    22. Build in, build out

    kitchen extension ideas

    Image credit: Amanda Turner

    Enjoy the freedom to fit out a room from scratch. Plan your new extension carefully and in a perfect world you will end up with a room that balances practicality and beauty.

    Every appliance and every ounce of storage will occupy its ideal spot. This kitchen uses a false wall to house built-in ovens, open shelving and upright and overhead cupboards, while the hob, sink, wine cooler and supersized drawers have been incorporated into a stand-alone island.

    Looking for more kitchen decor inspiration? READ: Kitchen lighting – everything you need to know

    23. Unite a multifunctional space with materials

    kitchen extension ideas

    Image credit: Alistair Nicholls

    Use a single material throughout an extended space to keep the feel orderly, contained and open. This extension features a country kitchen with breakfast bar, a seating area and separate dining space.

    Decoratively, this could be a messy arrangement, but the use of wood throughout brings its own settled order. From the fitted shelves and larder unit at the back of the room, through to the impressive breakfast bar at the centre and out to the low coffee table, farmhouse dining table and mismatched chairs inspired by shabby chic decorating ideas, the warm wood tones unite the scheme. Pops of vibrant colour on soft furnishings and ceramics to add to the fun.

    24. Seek out and follow the light

    kitchen extension ideas

    Image credit: Paul Raeside

    In a kitchen extension, position a dining table where the maximum light falls. In this space, which lacks conventional windows, roof lights bring drama and atmosphere to the table. An adjustable, wall-hung pivot light adds a modern touch.

    Look for furniture that fits the space you have as exactly as possible. This table is the width of two place settings and no more, allows room for chairs to move in and out and is the perfect length to make full use of the room’s dimensions.

    25. Unify with a theme

    kitchen extension ideas

    Image credit: Colin Poole

    Integrate your extended space by using a single decorating scheme throughout. Pick calm, soothing and co-ordinating colours that will lift and lighten the feel. For a fresh, coastal vibe, go for a powder blue backdrop. Match woodwork and cabinetry with cream Shaker-style doors for a sense of continuity – in this space, built-in cupboard doors are painted to match the units. In a similar way, use oak for worktops, tabletops and seats and blue striped fabric for seat pads and kitchen linen.

    26. Let architecture lead function

    kitchen extension ideas

    Image credit: David Merewether

    Consider the features of a building when designing your kitchen space, whether you are extending into a side return or looking for bungalow extension ideas.

    Set aside the space under a glazed roof for dining – this space also has a square bay, perfect for enjoying garden views – and keep the original space for more functional tasks, such as cooking and food preparation.

    Choose a cream palette to link the spaces together and warm up with oak worktops and a matching butcher’s block.

    27. Adopt multifunction living

    kitchen extension ideas

    Image credit: Rob Sanderson

    Plan well and a large kitchen extension has all the makings of the perfect open-plan living space. Create distinct and separate zones for cooking, dining and relaxing, but ensure continuity with a neutral shade throughout.

    Use a central island to divide the room and make cooking social by adding a breakfast bar. Position the dining table adjacent to patio doors to get the best view and a comfortable armchair in one corner for enjoying the new-found light.

    Need some kitchen inspiration and advice? READ: Kitchen worktops – everything you need to know

    28. Temper the new by referencing the old

    kitchen extension ideas

    Image credit: David Still

    When designing and decorating a new extension, always keep the style and period of your home in mind. Pick up on any period architectural features and incorporate design elements of any adjacent rooms into your new space.

    In a large, multifunctional area emphasise continuity by using freestanding cupboards or sideboards as feature cabinetry. Choose finishes that reflect the mix of old and new, such as the mahogany and Shaker-style designs used here.

    29. Reflect architecture in interior design

    kitchen extension ideas

    Image credit: Nicholas Yarsley

    Whatever type of extension you choose, be sure to reflect that design in your kitchen scheme. Let the architectural style and shape inspire your choice and positioning of cabinetry and furniture.

    In this home an impressive seven-metre-long workstation mirrors the run of roofline windows above, creating a balanced design that is also a practical solution to providing naturally lit worktops.

    Enhance the visual impact with a strong matt colour and the storage potential by including cupboards.

    30. Pick simple but strong colour schemes

    kitchen extension ideas

    Image credit: Fraser Marr

    The modern extension will increase the light levels in a property, so be adventurous with colour in your new kitchen. Working against a white or neutral backdrop, make a strong statement with a black gloss central island and black modern stools that create crisp, clean-lined silhouettes.

    Use gunmetal-finish patio door frames to tie in with stainless-steel appliances. Complement and uplift the scheme with a bright yellow splashback and matching pendant lights that draw the eye upward to impressive roof lights. This will simplify and streamline the scheme, particularly in a smaller extension.

    Love these kitchen extension ideas? READ: How to build an extension – everything you need to know

    31. Blur the boundaries

    kitchen extension ideas

    Image credit: Richard Gadsby

    Use an extension to continue your kitchen space outside. Choose floor tiles that allow a continuous flow from kitchen to patio, giving the illusion of one large room.

    Use the white of your cabinets and kitchen walls on external brickwork, masonry and planters. Create an outdoor cooking area that has all the features of a kitchen rather than a barbecue, including a worktop positioned to continue the run of the kitchen version inside.

    32. Colour code kitchen zones

    kitchen extension ideas

    Image credit: David Giles

    Make large, open-plan spaces work by using colour to define different functions. Try white, handleless cabinetry for a practical, easy-to-maintain cooking and food preparation area.

    Introduce a contrast shade on a breakfast bar island to signpost the change of function, but keep the worktop white to indicate that this is a dual-function surface. For dining, go unfinished wood – in keeping with its proximity to the patio, this table and chairs could be mistaken for garden furniture.

    Unify the whole with timber flooring, a wooden sideboard and a row of wooden bar stools.

    How much does a kitchen extension cost?

    Keep a close eye on your budget. Start by allocating a project fund for your architect to work with. If you let them know your key goals – a bespoke kitchen, for example – they’ll be able to tweak other aspects of
    the scheme to help bring it all in on budget. Set aside between £1,100 and £1,300 sq m for small, single-storey schemes or £1,300-£1,500 sq m for two-storey extensions. Allow at least £2,500 sq m for large-scale
    projects or those featuring high-spec materials.

    We’ve all seen Grand Designs when the budget suddenly spirals out of control. It’s a good idea to ring-fence a 10 per cent contingency fund, just in case. If you budget properly and use trusted tradespeople you won’t need to access the extra money, but better to be safe than sorry. Plus it can go towards furnishing the new space.

    Do I need planning permission for a kitchen extension?

    While many extension schemes can be achieved under permitted development rights, anything that’s pushing the boundaries in terms of design is likely to require formal consent from your local authority. Likewise, if you live in a conservation area or area of outstanding natural beauty, you will need planning permission to go ahead.

    Working with an architect or planning consultant can increase your chances of success at this stage as they will be aware of local planning policy.  It can also help to find similar extensions on your street, as these can serve as a precedent for your project.

    A single-storey rear extension is often the most planning permission-friendly extension project, and can often be achieved under permitted development. Keep in mind the balance between house and garden, as swallowing up too much garden may be detrimental to the properties value. A simple side extension is also planner-friendly and can widen a narrow kitchen without stealing precious outdoor space. Side-returns are a common choice for terraced properties, which often have a half-width kitchen tacked onto the rear.

    Building a basement kitchen is significantly more expensive than extending outwards. Converting an existing basement will be cheaper. This type of extension is popular where outdoor space is often limited, but it also works if you want to preserve the proportions of a building or retain all of the garden. It’s wise to use a specialist basement firm (try The British Structural Waterproofing Association, thebswa.plus.com, for accredited contractors).

    Related: Kitchen lighting ideas – to deliver the right brightness levels as and where you need it

    Will you be using these kitchen extension ideas?

    Additional words, expert advice to answer key questions, by Rebecca Foster

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