Client Testimonial: Victorian Home Modernised by an Open Plan Orangery Kitchen extension

From time to time, we ask our customers to write for our blog. Here’s Jillaine talking about how she transformed her Victorian Rectory home, into a family home fit for modern-day living.

Our house is a lovely Victorian Old Rectory, but the kitchen was north-facing with an east-facing window that only allowed for a short flash of sunlight in the morning.  We had to peer out of the small French doors to see what the weather was like.  The kitchen had always felt very “back-of-house” with a lower ceiling and smaller doors than the big, grand entrance hall at the front of the house. Because of the sheer size of the house, it cast a long shadow into the garden which made the sunshine seem a long way away.

After 12 years, we felt we wanted the kitchen to be a big enough space to socialise comfortably.

We wanted it to grow with our family and friends and our children becoming teenagers. We wanted more light coming into the most important room of the house.

Above: Jillaine’s home before her kitchen Orangery Extension

Westbury Garden Rooms was our immediate preference. It was the obvious choice; the style suited our taste and we felt it would complement the existing architecture without being a slave to the Victorian period.  The Westbury handwriting felt anchored in classical proportions with a 21st-century personality.  We were also drawn to the modern grandeur of the Westbury style.

Our designer immediately understood our aims and we were able to navigate through the whole process in an astonishingly short period of time. The factory and showroom were impressive; the precision engineering and attention to detail in the factory are second to none and that evidence of that precision shows in the end product.

Above: Jillaine’s home was transformed by the addition of a kitchen orangery.

As a project, it was a huge undertaking as we removed the whole corner of the house supporting the building.  It was a bold move, but we were certain that we wanted to create one large room without any structural obstructions to the view of the garden and landscape beyond.

However, the design plans were so comprehensive that our builder and Westbury were able to work smartly and efficiently together.  In fact, we were on holiday overseas during two of the most critical weeks; just as the major steels were craned into position.  Our house is quite close to the Old Stables next door, which meant we needed precision and nerve when installing the supporting steels.

The proximity of our neighbours also meant careful consideration in the design to take advantage of every bit of space available to us. The end result is a space that has depth and interest.  It also required some landscaping to soften the appearance of the adjacent garden walls. We achieved this with some beautiful pleached hornbeam trees which now provide habitat for small garden birds. I think good design turns problems into advantages.

During the project, we were reliant on a barbecue on the porch for quite some time but we actually have fond memories of it being quite an adventure.

The moment that we were able to open the doors into our new garden room was an emotional step; introducing this Victorian house to its contemporary new life. We were immediately able to imagine the lifestyle change, even before we installed flooring and a kitchen, as we sat in an unfurnished room looking outwards.

The puzzle involved in joining two floor finishes together – limestone to wood was a challenge.  We had to source a brass trim to allow for expansion but the end result is a massive success.  The wood provides an acoustic cushion, whilst the limestone in the kitchen area is hard wearing and practical, as well as beautiful.

It’s also a pleasure to style this room. I love moving accessories around according to a new purchase or depending on the season. And because I can always see what looks good in the garden, I am often inspired to bring garden cuttings indoors to create displays. I also love my desk space which is an inspiring place to work.

Being able to sit and relax, looking across the island and out to the garden is a pleasure that never fails to please.  We sometimes forget how lucky we are.  Although we expected it to be a much more functional space and we anticipated parties and get-togethers, what we weren’t expecting was the profound difference it would make to the sunlight and warmth we now experience.  The sunlight dances around the room and is different from season to season.  We are now, truly connected to the garden, landscape and the variety of sunsets beyond.

We spend so much of our time here now as it suits all occasions.  It is quiet, insulated and cosseting. 

It is the best decision we have made in this house.  In fact, if we were to move, I think we’d plan a Westbury Garden Room first and find a house to work around it.