If you’ve ever looked at a property and thought the proportion between living and sleeping space is all wrong then then this one’s for you. The problem is often that two bedrooms might suffice but then the downstairs is proportionally small so in order to get the living space you want you have to buy more bedrooms which you can then use as office space or secondary sitting rooms. This two bedroom semi-detached house was originally built as servants’ quarters for a bigger house nearby but the vendors have added a spectacular glass dining room which has dramatically increased the living space.

It also cost £100,000 and I don’t know if that investment is reflected in the asking price. of £750,000 One has to assume that it is but it’s also always worth considering if you will get a corresponding uplift in value if you invest in expanding your property. I’m told – but I don’t know this for certain so you should investigate – that doing a side return to extend the kitchen doesn’t always reflect in the sales price (on the basis that it’s not a huge increase in square footage) but that converting a loft will come back for you as you are adding a whole extra room.

That said, if extending the kitchen into the side return will massively improve your life during the time you live in the house then it’s worth doing. We can’t be doing everything with one eye on the resale value as it’s also about quality of life, but I merely point this out. And say that adding a 15ft x 10ft glass atrium dining room onto this house must clearly have improved the living in it.

It’s on the market for £750,000 with Winkworth and is a really pretty Hansel and Gretel style cottage with diamond brickwork and proper gingergbread house trim. The glass addition is a perfect contrast as adding something in the same style would have looked like a poor copy and a mere pastiche of the original. This is a much cleverer idea. Don’t fancy the window cleaner bills much though.

Inside it’s mostly white – spot that mini white AGA above – with accents of black and natural white. This is another good trick in cottages, which can be dark with those leaded windows and also traditionally have low ceilings, use lots of white (off white) paint. That instantly looks more modern than a range of traditional pastel colours and will bounce the light around – if you have the natural light coming in from the windows.

I know I’ve been all about banning the white paint but that’s not a total ban more of a requirement that you stop to think about why you are reaching for white paint so that you don’t just do it automatically. In a chocolate boxy cottage like this the white paint will be a modern and fresh contrast to the olde worlde features inside.

And I do mean white, off white, in this case. Step away from the reds and creams which seem to feature so strongly in all the country houses I look at every week. In a house like this white is your friend. Consider also subverting all the country style fabrics and using them in modern colours. So consider the William Morris traditional Acanthus pattern but instead of the classic pinks and greens use it in black and white so that it feels more modern.

Consider also – if budget permits – using House of Hackney papers, which are a bit more of a cliche in London town houses but their slightly punkish colourways lend themselves well to subverting that country house decor.

So we like? Who’s moving to Surrey then? There are more pictures if you follow the Winkworth link above so you can see the bedrooms but there isn’t a really good image of the dining room. For that you will have to be a serious buyer and go and visit.


Tags : cottageglass dining roommodern glass extensionsemi-detached houseVictorian propertyWinkworth
Kate Watson-Smyth

The author Kate Watson-Smyth

I’m a journalist who writes about interiors mainly for The Financial Times but I have also written regularly for The Independent and The Daily Mail. My house has been in Living Etc, HeartHome and featured in The Wall Street Journal & Corriere della Sera. I also run an interior styling consultancy Mad About Your House. Welcome to my Mad House.


  1. Thank you for pointing out that life is so much more than resale value. I’m always horrified by the people I meet who base every decor or renovation decision on “resale”, leading (in my opinion) to beige lives lived in beige houses. No thank you! Life’s way too short to spend it worrying about offending strangers. Or decorating your home — the one place in the world that is all yours, to live in & love in & grow memories in — to please some hypothetical future buyer who doesn’t even exist yet. I’ve bought & sold a lot of properties, have never once given a second thought to decorating exactly as I wanted, horrified warnings from Realtors notwithstanding, & have never once lost money on a resale.

  2. Apparently clever architects state “self clean” glass for this type of project.
    I have seen several, much more thoughtful, contrasting extensions and dislike this one. Is it really suited to a domestic life style in the countryside? I think not.
    The owners may love the extension but they have limited their buyer’s market in my opinion.

  3. This is my dream home. It’s beautiful, but not very central to Weybridge. I think there’s a larger house in a similar style up the road which I’ve driven past a few times and swooned over.

  4. Similar thoughts to Jade – I know how hot (and cold) a normal conservatory can be so not sure how much the glass extension would be used throughout the year during extremes of weather. If you also used it as a workspace I cant imagine you’d be able to see much of a laptop or tablet screen with the sun pouring in.

  5. Wow, I didn’t even spot the dining room in the first photo. It looks amazing but worried it would function in much the same way as my awful plastic conservatory and be unusable for much of the year.

  6. It’s been done very tastefully (says the girl who loves white) but I would worry that the glass room would be either too hot or too cold to use a lot of the year. But I bet it’s wonderful on a starry night.

  7. Is ‘atrium’ the right word to describe a single storey side extension?????
    Surely that would better describe a higher/taller space central to or within the building?

  8. This is Weybridge, Surrey, not Kent. A KT postcode is Kingston. You don’t have to publish my comment, just thought you might like to amend the last paragraph!

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