A modern extension to a 1920s semi-detached house

We talk through the concept of this contemporary front and rear extension to an early 20th century home with architect Sam Tisdall.

By Hugh Metcalf | 4 February 2020

A little blunder led architect Sam Tisdall to an idea that would transform a 1920s cottage with a new modern, timber-clad extension.

1920s home with modern timber extension - granddesigns

Image: Richard Chivers 

It was a simple misunderstanding that planted the idea to transform this client’s home with a front extension, but the end result really highlights the contrast between the pre-existing 1920s cottage and the sleek new extension.

We talked to architect Sam Tisdall about how he reconciled the two structures and worked with the client to update this property for modern life.

Interview: Lee Gale

This is a full renovation, with a rear and – that rare thing – a front extension..

modern timber clad extension - grand designs

Image: Richard Chivers 

‘Yes, it’s unusual to have a front extension. The house is part of a small estate of 1920s semis. Some are set back from the neighbouring pair, as was the case here, so there was a space at the front. But I have a confession: we didn’t start off with a front extension. At one point, I held a drawing upside down and thought, “Well, the neighbours have extended at the front…” It was the wrong way up, but it became the germ of an idea.’

The two extensions are a hugely different style to the original houses

‘In many ways, the house is fairly unremarkable but even in disrepair you could tell it was well built using good-quality materials. The front extension was designed as a continuation of the roof. I managed to save and re-lay the roof tiles, which have a lovely weathered surface, and we wanted the extension to respond to this.’