An English Country Cottage Renovation With a Modern, Edgy Twist

A charming cottage in the English countryside has a second side that the casual observer won’t see: An airy, light-filled addition that provides extra space, comfort and modern style. It is an architectural twist that lets the homeowners preserve the historical part of the house while enjoying the bucolic countryside through a modern, cantilevered glass extension.

The classic facade belies the modern extension in the back.View in gallery
The classic facade belies the modern extension in the back.

From the road , it looks like a typical, ivy-covered cottage, but a peek from the side of the house offers a glimpse of the glass addition. Stephen Marshall Architects in the UK designed the 70-square-meter extension that gives a significant boost the living space and adds a separate master bedroom on the second floor. Intriguingly, from the back of the house the glass walls virtually disappear, with the trees and shrubbery in the background, leaving an open view from the stone patio. The extension is so unobtrusive that it almost ceases to exist.

Glass walls help the new section quite literally meld seamlessly with the outdoorsView in gallery
Glass walls help the new section quite literally meld seamlessly with the outdoors

This was the perfect solution for the homeowners, film and television producers Elaine Sperber and Nick Manzey, who needed more living space but still wanted to maximize views out of the garden of their Hampshire cottage. This particular design also lets them forge a closer relationship with the outdoors by incorporating large oak doors that can be propped open from the new living space to the green slate terrace, for more outdoor enjoyment.

From the side the transition from classic to modern flows easily.View in gallery
From the side the transition from classic to modern flows easily.

On the other side of the house, a traditional cottage garden helps maintain the overall classic English look. Low maintenance plantings and shrubbery fill the hillside and make the views from the windows more interesting.

The opposite side of the house sticks to a classic English cottage garden.View in gallery
The opposite side of the house sticks to a classic English cottage garden.

What seems like a simple corner addition is actually rather special and require extensive computer modeling to build the open cantilevered corner. The design required a projecting beam to be prepared in a way that would let it sink when the weight of the upper level was added. Making the entire corner from glass also helps define the new section from the original part of the house. The view from behind shows how different the extension looks, and how well it melds with its surroundings. Its surroundings were also a consideration in the construction of the extension: Builder Martin Price of Salisbury had to allow for delays to allow for rare wildlife and bat surveys of the property.

Glass walls open up the home for better enjoyment of the views.View in gallery
Glass walls open up the home for better enjoyment of the views.

Another unique feature of the design that fuses the interior with the outdoors is the slate floor in the new living space. The same material is used inside and out, connecting the home to the surrounding natural landscape and serving as a nice counterpoint to the pale painted brick. When the doors are open in nice weather, the consistent flooring helps create the feeling of a unified space. At the base of the glass walls on the outside, a trough of natural stones helps provide drainage and minimize the splashing of rain onto the windows as it flows from the rooftop.

The living space seems like it is part and parcel of the landscape.View in gallery
The living space seems like it is part and parcel of the landscape.

A closer look at the upper corner of the main floor shows the unique design. If the ceiling were to extend all the way to the glass, the appearance from the outside would not be the same.  This lets you look right through the corner, from the very top of the ceiling down to the floor.

The walls seem to disappear when viewed from the side, capitalizing on the bucolic viewView in gallery
The walls seem to disappear when viewed from the side, capitalizing on the bucolic view
A closer look at the unique construction.View in gallery
A closer look at the unique construction.

Although the large glass walls are confined to the new portion of the house, they still offer new views for those who are enjoying the wood-beamed sitting room. The open door provides clear sight of the light-filled kitchen and a view of the landscape beyond. The extended view helps bring more natural light into the original part of the house and opens up the more compartmentalized older space.

More natural light makes the sitting room feel airy.View in gallery
More natural light makes the sitting room feel airy.

The arrangement of the new living space makes the most of the glass feature. Open slight lines from all parts of the room help maintain the open feel and  make it feel as if you are sitting outdoors. A design that eliminates light fixtures that extend down from the ceiling preserve the unfettered view while giving enough light in the dark hours.

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This feels as if the room is an extension of the outdoor patio.

The flush light fixtures are minimal and unobtrusive. The arrangement also helps visually extend the space, drawing the eye toward the glass corner of the room and out the window. If the lighting was arranged in a traditional perpendicular manner, the space might not feel like it just outward.

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Light fixtures that are flush with the ceiling, enhancing the open feel.

Above the living area of the extension is a master bedroom with the same glass walls and disappearing corner construction. Instead of viewing the patio, from the upstairs, residents look into the treetops and sky, giving the modest-sized bedroom the effect of being a much larger space. Wooden panels open up to the outside for fresh air and also help keep bright sunlight from shining on the head of the bed. Booth upstairs and down, the doors and windows are situated to the sides nearest the older part of the house to keep the glass expanse as large as possible.

Wooden shutters instead of standard windows open up for fresh air.View in gallery
Wooden shutters instead of standard windows open up for fresh air.

A minimum of accessories and put the focus on the windows and the view outdoors. Similar to the living area, the bedroom features recessed lights that do not detract from the view or place any obstacles in the sightlines.

The bed placement takes maximum advantage of the windows.View in gallery
The bed placement takes maximum advantage of the windows.
A modest chair is tucked into the corner for seatingView in gallery
A modest chair is tucked into the corner for seating

The side of the bedroom facing the back of the house includes a large wooden cupboard for clothing storage. Fewer pieces of furniture extend the modern, minimalist style and keep the space airy and uncluttered.

Throughout each part of the extension, the focus is on the windows.View in gallery
Throughout each part of the extension, the focus is on the windows.
The closet and the doorway are grouped together to open up more space for the window wall.View in gallery
The closet and the doorway are grouped together to open up more space for the window wall.

Day or night, the new cottage extension offers a relaxing space for the family. This evening view gives you a good glimpse of the kitchen included in the new space. It’s the perfect location for the hub of the home because this is where the most time is spent. It is truly a gorgeous and functional addition.

View in gallery

The existing cottage has an 'L' plan and the extension sits in the gapView in gallery
The existing cottage has an ‘L’ plan and the extension sits in the gap
English Cottage Renovation Visually Fuses Indoors, OutdoorsView in gallery
English Cottage Renovation Visually Fuses Indoors, Outdoors