Two Doctors on Honeymoon Come Home to a Kitchen That’s Double in Size
Most homeowners find their architect through friends or by browsing online. London doctors Andrew and Emma Boyd found theirs at their local pub.
The pair were sketching out ideas on the back of an envelope for a possible extension to their compact southeast London home when they spied a couple at the next table doing a similar thing, but better and on tracing paper. Striking up a conversation, they discovered that one of their fellow drinkers worked for A Small Studio, an architecture, planning, and landscape firm.
Within days, an appointment had been made for the company’s principal, Helena Rivera, to visit the Boyds and discuss ideas for expanding their "half-house"—a local name for one side of a Victorian terrace house that’s split vertically down the middle, with the two neighbors sharing a main front entrance and hallway.
A rear addition would swallow what little garden the Boyds had. But Rivera came up with a plan to transform their 53-square-foot eat-in kitchen by filling in the "side return," a narrow outdoor space that is a feature of many Victorian terrace homes. These spaces were designed to allow in daylight and, once upon a time, provide access to an outside toilet and coal bunker.
Rivera’s design would eliminate the return and more than double the kitchen size, with a skylight in a new peaked roof and new windows to make up for lost daylight. Her plan also called for soundproofing to help compensate for the single-brick-width walls separating the Boyds’ home from their neighbors’.
The planning took place while the couple were organizing their wedding and Emma was studying for her master’s exams. Neither wanted to spend their honeymoon in a construction site.
So, two days after the wedding, Emma and Andrew packed away everything breakable, handed their keys to the builders, and headed for the airport. "Our honeymoon was spent cycling from Vancouver to San Francisco on our tandem bike," says Andrew. A flight to Sri Lanka and more biking across the tropical island followed.
"We’d be in the middle of nowhere and would log on to a Dropbox folder that A Small Studio had set up for us," says Emma. "We’d look at a load of photos and just see our house being torn apart."
Happily, the builders put most of it back together in the two months the couple were away (they completed the job three weeks later), and Andrew and Emma came home to 63 extra square feet. The kitchen/dining area is now the center of the house, with the deck tiled to match the interior for a continuous indoor/outdoor space.