15 side extension ideas to increase flow, light, and space

Side extension ideas - IMAGE: Bleehalligan

Side extension ideas - IMAGE: Bleehalligan

So many of our Reno Club students have L-shaped homes which has led them to consider side extensions as a way to round off their layouts. And we’re all for it! An extension can be a great way to bring in much needed extra space, flow, and light into your home. If you have a semi-detached, detached house or a terraced house with a little side garden, considering a side extension will maximise the footprint of your home and connect your living spaces with the garden.

So here we are sharing 15 ideas for side extensions to increase flow, light, and space. Pay attention to how these real home owners have used materials to create something unique but still complementary to the era of their homes.


contrasting brick and wood side extension ideas - IMAGE: yardarchitects

contrasting brick and wood side extension ideas - IMAGE: yardarchitects

Side extension idea #1. Make a clear distinction between the old and the new

One way to feel like you are in a whole new space but keep some of your house’s character is to create a clear visual distinction between the old and the new. In this example the use of timber really breaks from the brick house and creates a new characterful light filled space.


Side extension idea #2. Make it all glass

An obvious way to bring light into a house is to make your extension fully glass. This solution can create potential overlooking issues but the spaces inside look contemporary and light filled. Try to consider window dressing first, if privacy will be an issue. You could also look at switchable smart glass.


kitchen side extension with glass skylight - IMAGE: darrenoldfield

kitchen side extension with glass skylight - IMAGE: darrenoldfield

Side extension idea #3. Bring light in with a skylight

When you’re building or amending a structure with a roof, think skylights. Building a side extension is great to increase the size of your house but it can also be a great way to bring in natural light. Adding skylights to your extension will also improve the rest of the house visually and you’ll watch how light energises every space morning to night.


DOuble height brick and glass side extension ideas - IMAGE: Fraher Architects via dezeen

DOuble height brick and glass side extension ideas - IMAGE: Fraher Architects via dezeen

Side extension idea #4. Go double height! 

Side extensions can take any size and shape so consider building a two storey side extension to create interesting volumes. In this example the floor to ceiling window is used as a bridge linking the old original brick and the new extension brick. We love how the stark black RSJ that holds the stairwell has been left visible, becoming the new bones of the property.


Glass and brick side extension idea - IMAGE: Bleehalligan

Glass and brick side extension idea - IMAGE: Bleehalligan

Side extension idea #5. Make it go beyond the existing house

Your brain naturally might jump to rounding off a side extension to meet the rear of the property but if your garden has the space, thing beyond this boundary. In order to maximise the gained space you can always consider building beyond the existing house’s rear facade. An added plus is that this technique creates a new cosy corner that can be opened up to your garden. Think table, chairs, and being able to watch the kids do their thing outside while you’re pottering. An all round view. Love it.


Glass small side extension idea - IMAGE: mwarchitects

Glass small side extension idea - IMAGE: mwarchitects

Side extension idea #6. Small can go a long way

Sometimes even tiny side extensions can transform your space in terms of light and flow to the interior. This 7 sqm side extension allowed the architect to reconfigure his house completely from the front to the rear, giving completely new internal layout.

This idea sits nicely within the side extension rules so you get the interior benefits with less of the hoops to jump through.


conservatory style side extension idea - IMAGE: deardesigner

conservatory style side extension idea - IMAGE: deardesigner

Side extension idea #7. Opt for a side conservatory instead

Conservatories can be placed anywhere around a house and are a great efficient way to bring in light into a house. They create lovely green spaces perfect for an extra living space. Always consider insulation and heat regulation if you’re adding or improving a lean-to or conservatory like this.

If you’re unsure wether to go for an extension or a conservatory, we’ve written a guide offering advice.


original brick facade remaining on side extension - IMAGE: Homebuilding&Renovating

original brick facade remaining on side extension - IMAGE: Homebuilding&Renovating

Side extension idea #8. Keep the original facade

One way to keep costs low whilst still benefiting from a unique new room is to minimise the intervention on your existing house and focus on attaching a side extension onto it. The new space can be a great office like in this example or a unique dining space or even just storage. Yours might contain a garage currently, why not switch up the space to become a liveable zone? See more garage conversion ideas if this is a project you’re considering.


reused bricks in side house extension ideas - IMAGE: bureaudechange

reused bricks in side house extension ideas - IMAGE: bureaudechange

Side extension idea #9. Reuse the house material

This “step house” successfully re-uses in an imaginative way the original houses’s bricks which lowers the cost of materials and helps the side extension fit in perfectly. The large glass doors bring symmetry and unity.


contrasting materials in side house extension ideas - IMAGE: gortscott

contrasting materials in side house extension ideas - IMAGE: gortscott

Side extension idea #10. Create a strong contrast

On the contrary the side extension here is clearly pronounced with a strong contrast in colour. A strong contrast can allow you to be bold and contemporary with your design. This technique is particularly impactful if you’re considering extension ideas for small houses.


matching facade blended side extension - image: architectyourhome

matching facade blended side extension - image: architectyourhome

Side extension idea #11. Or continue the same style as the house

If you find yourself in a conservation area or a listed building, you probably can’t opt for the bold/minimal/contrasting route as your home’s facade will be protected. With matching brickwork detail you can create a design that will blend in your neighbourhood whilst remaining functional for you. Appointing an architect that is local to you, will bring a wealth of knowledge on what your local council are willing to approve. Architects will help you get approval. Find out more about architect costs, and whether you need an architect for an extension.


Wall storage in side extension ideas - image: neildusheiko

Wall storage in side extension ideas - image: neildusheiko

Side extension idea #12. Incorporate storage in your extension

A key way to feel like you have a spacious house is to minimise the risk of clutter. Adding as much storage (closed and open) as you can will help you increase the flow inside your home and bring a fantastic focal point.


Cosy corner in glass side extension - image: plusrooms

Cosy corner in glass side extension - image: plusrooms

Side extension idea #13. Create a new cosy corner

Although it’s always nice to have more space inside your home, sometimes small cosy corners are the key to make your house feel fully comfortable. Make sure to incorporate small cushy seating corners to really make the most of your side extension. It can even be expressed in the facade like in this example!


Open plan crittall window in read extension - image: plusrooms

Open plan crittall window in read extension - image: plusrooms

Side extension idea #14. Use the side extension to maximise your connection with your garden

Extra internal space isn’t the only key to increasing flow in a house. Creating the ability to open a room fully onto a garden can make a room feel twice as big without having to build anything. Even in the winter the extra light will brighten up the space. If you’re planning a kitchen inside your side extension, views to the garden are something you’ll never regret.


Garden foliage in side extension - image: Casaejardim

Garden foliage in side extension - image: Casaejardim

Side extension idea #15. Leave some outdoor space inside your home

Sometimes, building a side extension can actually reduce the light in a room as you’re removing windows. One way against creating a dark box is to leave some outdoor space in the middle of your house to bring in some much needed light! Accessibility will need to be considered for maintaining the glass planter! Usually a slim profile sliding door does the trick.

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