Vestry Road is a minimalist extension located in London, United Kingdom, designed by Oliver Leech Architects. The two-story house was in poor condition, with little natural light and a cramped kitchen so the brief was formed from the client’s wish to provide new open-plan cooking and eating spaces that face out onto the garden, with a focus on natural light and materials to create more usable space and a calm atmosphere.

The house was stripped back to a shell, extended and internally rebuilt, including new services and better insulation. The design focused on the use and expression of natural materials that would complement and respect the original house. The use of a limited palette of natural materials provides a consistent language throughout the house, creating a coherent relationship between old and new. White oiled Douglas fir was paired with pale buff bricks which has been expressed both externally and internally, as a subtle contrast with the existing London bricks.

Volumetrically, the extensions are articulated into two distinct volumes. A side extension provides extra width to the previously narrow kitchen, with pitched skylights overhead to bring in plenty of north light into the dining space throughout the day. A rear extension projects slightly further into the garden, framing a set of white-oiled Douglas fir bi-folding doors across a low-height window bench. The bench provides flexible seating as well as storage and can be used both internally and externally. It developed from the client’s particular desire to be able to sit and read in the evening sun, whether with the doors open or closed.

The height of the extension was maximised to balance the low ceilings of the existing kitchen, and to bring in as much natural light as possible deep into the space. A large frameless skylight is positioned at the junction between old and new with gentle ceiling curves to create a soft transition of light down into the kitchen.

Photography by Ståle Eriksen