Grand Designs

A Dorset couple replaced their conservatory to create the ideal modern entertainment space!

We love our Victorian home, but the layout wasn’t suited to modern family life.’ Explains Ashley Lyas. ‘We have two young children, so we invariably spend most of our time in the kitchen, but the original space was small, dark and stuck at the rear of the house with no view of the garden.’

In a bid to resolve their issues with the house, Ashley and Kate contacted RB Studio, giving the team a reasonably open brief to replace a dated and impractical 1990s conservatory at the side of the house with a new addition, which would house a kitchen and dining area leading to an outdoor entertaining space. ‘We knew we didn’t want a typical glass box, but other than that we were open to suggestions,’ says Ashley. ‘W put our trust in the architects to come up with a unique extension that would create an instant connection with the garden.’

The resulting design sets the contemporary extension at an angle to the house, maximizing the tree- lined backdrop of the plot and creating a panoramic outlook over the outdoor space. Clad in dark, burnt larch and attached to the existing property by a frameless glazed link, there’s a clear separation between old and new.

With the addition of extensive steelwork, the floor slab for the extension is cantilevered over the foundations, which helps to create the optical illusion that the structure is lightweight and floating above the garden.

‘Lifting the extension out of the ground helps to define it as a space,’ explains Laurence Bowen, director and architect at RB Studio. ‘It also creates the raised deck area, which is great for their kids as they can sit with their legs hanging over the edge. In this way, the architecture becomes part of the seating in the outdoor entertaining area.

‘It was important, however, that this outdoor space didn’t feel like it was simply bolted on the extension- it needed to be an integral part of the new structure.’ To achieve this, the flat roof extends out past the sliding doors to the furthest corner of the raised deck, creating a covered terrace area that the family can enjoy throughout the year.

Spotlight on Burnt Larch

RB Studio opted to clad the build in larch that has been charred on the external face before installation, a process that creates a natural sealant to protect the timber from the elements. There’s variation in the natural colour and finish, giving the material a more textured feel and helping the extension blend back into the landscape. It costs from £108 per sqm from Shou- Sugi- Ban (01494 711 800;

Above Burnt larch cladding requires minimal maintenance, and the colour will remain fairly stable

Top right A glazed link bridges the gap between the Victorian house and the modern space beyond

Left The garden was redesigned with new steps leading to the garden office, and a cedar- clad wall that will turn silver to blend in with the extension

Inside, the space has been kept clean and simple with ceramic wood- effect flooring, sleek handleless kitchen units and slim profile worktops, all of which ensure the constantly changing views, colours and textures of the surrounding landscape are the main attraction of the space.

The completed extension has revitalized the Victorian property and the family are reaping the benefits of the new indoor/ outdoor space. ‘It’s fantastic to finally have somewhere everyone can spend quality time together,’ says Ashley. ‘It’s a brilliant transformation.’

Project profile

Names Ashley and Kate Lyas

Property Detached Victorian house

Location Poole, Dorset

Type of extension Single- storey slide extension

Size of extension 56sqm

Reason for extending To create a spacious kitchen- diner leading to an outdoor entertaining area

Build cost £260,000

professional extensions in dorset

Case study Slide Extension

Glazed walls on three sides of the extension offer extensive views of the garden

Modern, monochrome, finishes and sleek built- in appliances characterise the internal space



Architect RB Studio Architects (01202 700 032;

Structual engineer

Calcinotto & Associates (01202 237 237;

Main contractor Hardy of Wessex (01202 465 482;


Glazing IQ Glass (01494 722 880;

Charred larch cladding Shou- Sugi- Ban (01494 711 800;

Aluminium cladding and finishing County Gutters (01202 577 277;

Composite decking Timber Tech (029 2080 3756;