An example of how a small one-storey rear extension can transform the living space in a Victorian end of terrace home.

Extensions, even small ones, can make a huge difference to small homes. Continuing my series on room transformations, today I’m sharing how we turned some old outhouses in our Victorian end of terrace in Oxford into a small rear extension for our new living area.

Here’s a comparison between the new (left) and the old (right) ground-floor layout:

Issues with the old ground-floor layout

As you can see from the comparison above, the ground-floor layout issues were many:

  • a ‘not-really-an-open-plan’ sitting room+kitchen area (although not shown in the picture, there was a low wall with a bannister on top separating the two areas);
  • a small kitchen-dining area which we had to cross to go to the bathroom and to go outside to the washing machine outhouse and the garden;
  • a horrible bathroom (with no toilet) in an outhouse; and
  • a freezer and a washing machine in another outhouse.

tranforming outhouses into a new extension_old kitchen

What we wanted and what we got planning permission for

Seeing what other neighbours had previously managed to do (two-storey extensions and huge dormers, some of them with three windows), our original plans included a two-storey extension and a dormer. This would allow us to have a big first-floor bathroom and an en suite shower room in the top floor. It would also help building new stairs from the ground floor all the way to the top floor without compromising space in my new office.

In renovations, what you want and what you’re eventually allowed to do may differ significantly, and this was no exception. Our original extension plans were rejected and there’d be neither a two-storey extension nor a dormer.

We were only allowed to build a small one-storey extension. Our new plan was to demolish the outhouses and build a small one-storey extension for our new living area.

The transformation

The outhouses

Demolishing the two outhouses was the first thing builders did when starting the renovations.

Outhouse number 1 was home to our horrible old bathroom. It had no proper foundations and was built on a concrete slope covered in cheap lino. There were both insulation and ventilation problems. The outhouse had a bath, a tiny sink, and a wall-mounted bathroom fan heater. The window was single-glazed, and we had to open it after every shower to avoid condensation because the whole room would steam up. In winter, slugs were crawling up the window. And no matter how often we cleaned, the bathroom always had a bit of a funny smell.

transforming outhouses into a new extension_old bathroom

Outhouse number 2 had been divided into two and each had its own door. The first one housed the washing machine, while the second one housed a small freezer. As you can imagine, outhouse number 2 offered a fantastic wet outdoor laundry experience. Ah, the good old pre-renovation times…

transforming outhouses into new extension_washing machine
transforming outhouses into new extension_freezer

The new extension

The new extension was very small (8.13sqm) but it made a huge difference to the ground floor. We swapped rooms by turning the old living room into the new kitchen at the front of the house. This allowed us to create an open-plan living space with garden views. The old kitchen turned into the new dining area and the new extension was the new living room.

We kept the left side of the area free to have an uninterrupted garden view right from the front door.

A skylight and bi-fold doors helped bring light into the extension and we decided to paint all walls white to make the room feel bigger and hide the wonky end of terrace wall.

Sometime after renovations, we added a decking area and that helped the garden look bigger, as it was very narrow and only opened up further down the path.

extension_new living room

extension_rear view

© Penny & Sinclair


The transformation in pictures

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Bear in mind that this blog is for informational purposes only. The content published in The Home Reporter does not constitute legal advice and you shouldn't rely upon it as such. I won't be liable for any loss or damage resulting from or in connection with your use of this blog.

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Irene Corchado Resmella

Irene Corchado Resmella

I'm a Spanish freelance translator living in the UK since 2011. After fully renovating and selling a Victorian end of terrace house in Oxford, I recently relocated to Edinburgh with my Scottish husband.

In The Home Reporter I share everything home and lifestyle – from renovation stories and interiors inspiration to tips and anecdotes about buying a house, working from home and relocation. Lover of bright spaces, wooden floors and matte finishes.

Find me on Instagram.

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