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Period meets contemporary: Extensions

Period meets contemporary: Extensions

Old homes are great, from grand Georgian terraces that line residential city streets, to those lonesome tumbledown cottages that sit precariously on rural hillsides. Over the years – or the centuries even – they each develop their own unique character that suburban new-builds simply lack.

It’s no surprise then that owners get so attached to their period properties, they never want to leave. But what can you do if you absolutely love your home but you’re also running out of living space?

The obvious answer is to extend your property in a sympathetic manner that replicates its historic aesthetics. That said, many of these extensions don't always look quite right, with modern building regulations sometimes making it difficult to exactly replicate the traditional methods originally used to construct period properties. Because of this, many homeowners are instead opting for contemporary styled extensions. While these look worlds apart from the original building, they can also perfectly complement it rather than trying to mimic it.

Try to accentuate your property’s features 

A well-executed contemporary extension should highlight the historic beauty of your home. It adds sleek modern lines, and often plenty of glass, to celebrate the original architecture of the building.

A nice way to compliment your home is to use original building materials in new ways. For example, if the property is made of a variety of local stone, incorporate that into the new design. Try also to reclaim any historic features of the property, such as timber from an old barn or outbuilding. This can be easily repurposed to make things such as kitchen worktops or staircases.

Copyright David Hawgood and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Copyright David Hawgood and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

It’s what the experts like

While you may think that English Heritage (the folks who regulate listed buildings) are needlessly stuffy and hate all things modern, this really isn’t the case. In fact, they tend to favour the contemporary approach to home extensions on listed buildings above the ‘sympathetic’ style of extension that attempts to replicate the existing aesthetics of a home.

The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB) also supports contemporary extensions. SPAB’s website states that “new work should complement, not parody the original and modern needs should be expressed in a modern architectural language”.

Be aware of planning permission 

If you’re lucky enough to live in a home that’s special enough to have been listed, then be aware that getting permission to extend your home is going to be more complicated. For Grade II properties, permission is dealt with by the local planning office. English Heritage only tend to only get involved with buildings that are Grade II* or Grade I Listed, or when the application is particularly complicated.

While you may be doubtful that your project will get consent, don’t despair! Around 90% of listed building applications are actually accepted.

Image credit: Photo by Adrien Williams. CC

Image credit: Photo by Adrien Williams. CC

Find the right people 

When taking on such an ambitious project, it’s vital that you work with the right people. Chose an architect who either specialises in, or has previous experience of, adding contemporary extensions to older properties. Not only will they possess the right skills to give you exactly what you want but they’ll also be more au fait with what they need to do in order to secure that vital planning permission. 

Want to explore adding a contemporary extension to
your home? 

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