Sophie Bates Architects is a London based studio established to deliver innovative, contemporary residential architecture and interiors.

07725 501683
St Georges Road, Kingston-Upon-Thames

Having worked as a residential architect for 20 years and starting Sophie Bates Architects  in 2010 it was definitely about time we extended and refurbished our own home, a detached Victorian villa.

As a growing family squeezed for space, when a Victorian property in Kingston came on the market in need of a lot of love, we snapped it up. The opportunity to refurbish and extend a beautiful old building with a lot of potential was just what we needed.

The Layout

The previous owner was born and died in the house, squeezing eight children in and coping with an outdoor loo, coalhole, no fitted kitchen, a damp interior and poor electrics. The first step was to make the house our home. The original layout worked fairly well with an east facing, cosy reception room to the front, a through hall and a rear living space looking onto the garden. What didn’t work was the dark kitchen sandwiched into the middle of the plan. By removing the chimney breast and building in open kitchen shelving up to the ceiling with a hatch to visually connect the kitchen to the front room, light flows into the centre of the house.

Open shelving provides vital storage and frames the opening to the front room bringing in light and views while making good use of the high ceilings.

A downstairs utility and wc room was positioned off the kitchen. A sliding door to maximise space, with the wc and washing machine and shelving above tucked away to each side, allows the art with basin below as a central focus of the space. The turquoise colour adds interest to this small but essential space.

Adding Light

The main phase of works was to extend the back and open up the house to the garden. Working with natural and artificial light has always fascinated me with the ability to transform a space depending on the time of day and time of year. Playing with shadows and light on natural materials can create a sense of space and calm, both which are needed in our busy working and family life.

Design options were explored through sketches and models, allowing the form of the design to develop. At the back of the space is a cosy sitting area with the fireplace as a focus. A bright dining area embraces the garden. These two areas are split by a full width roof light which creates a beautiful changing light while brightening up the back of the room and disguises the change in ceiling level. The sloping upstand also protects the room from solar gain.


Photo of models and sketches. Early sketches and model views

A glass corner slides back into the wall opening up the space to the full width of the garden. This allows light to enter the space from earlier in the day and provides great views out. Key to framing this view is the detailing of the glass. Slim frames to the full height sliding doors, along with detailing the head of the doors to allow a recess for the blinds gives a greater sense of space. The wall has also been detailed with a vertical recess to hide away the handle.

Keeping The Design Crisp

Avoiding any down stands and nibs for structure was essential to create the crisp design. The columns are hidden within the walls to avoid any stepping. The radiator and niche behind the dining table are recessed into the wall to create a flush wall so your don’t catch your dining chair on it and to provide a shelf for art with a hidden light source to add a cosiness to the room when dining.

Sophie Bates Architects: How To Add Light to a Victorian VillaThe flush wall to the extension is crisp without nibs and down stands. This also allows the radiator and niche to be recessed and additional wall insulation to offset the glass to comply with Building Regulations. The glass pocket door slides into the wall with blinds tucked up out of sight.

Sophie Bates Architects: How to Add Light to a Victorian VillaEarly afternoon summer sun washes through the rooflight and glass doors. The blinds are recessed out of sight.

Controlling the light is possible not just through not just through the volume of the space and openings in it but also in the detail. Using LED strips hidden in the alcoves and niches, using a mix of recessed plaster in down lights to light art and feature pendants, the feel of the space can be transformed.

Sophie Bates Architects: How to Add Light to a Victorian Villa Light washes down the alcoves behind the shelves, pendant lighting and lit niches add to the character of the space.

Sophie Bates Architects: How to Add Light to a Victorian VillaSophie Bates set up Sophie Bates Architects in 2010 to provide homeowners with exciting, inspiring and personal architecture, from concept to completion. Light House was selected to feature in London’s Open House.