If there’s one person who knows about creating the perfect kitchen, it’s an architect who has designed their own. Having bought their dream house in the Sussex village in which she grew up, Sarah Breeze was able to do just that, extending the already beautiful house to create a stunning kitchen for her and her family. Having seen the house in person (we first met in NCT many moons ago!), I can tell you it’s incredible, fusing practicality with beauty and ticking all those boxes when it comes to creating the perfect family home.
Had you always wanted a ‘project’?
Since qualifying as an architect, and then specialising in residential projects, I always knew that I wanted to do my own project. This is a dream for most architects – whether it’s a new build house or extending and renovating an existing house. I have learned so much from other people’s projects over the years, I felt that I had enough experience and confidence to do our family home.
Tell me a bit about you as an architect – what do you specialise in?
I set up my own practice about six years ago when my family moved out of London. All my projects are residential now. I spent my last few years working in London working on residential projects in Chelsea and Knightsbridge, and this gave me a wide experience of different houses and flats.
What did you need to do the house when you moved in?
The house wasn’t big enough for our family, so I knew we needed an extension. The house still had a very small kitchen and was generally stuck in the 1970’s. We gutted every room and put a two storey extension on the rear. I wanted the house to look exactly the same as it always has from the front, as we both absolutely love it, so the only option was to extend to the rear. We wanted a large open plan kitchen and family room, where we could all spend time together. I also wanted to create as much light in this room, and also be able to see the whole of the garden from the space. We kept the existing house layout the same and retained all the original features, such as the inglenook fireplace, which I love. We also added a master bedroom with dressing room and ensuite to the first floor.
As an architect, what kind of things do you think about when planning an extension or whether to do an extension?
I really try and understand exactly what my client is trying to achieve. Most people have an idea of what they would like to do to their house, but this is not usually what they end up constructing. I always design and draw different options of how to achieve the brief as often, it is not until a client sees the scheme in black and white on paper that it confirms exactly what they want, and how the design will achieve that. Communication is key, and spending time with a client to understand exactly what they need and would like is fundamental to creating a design that they are happy with.
How easy is it to add a new extension to an old building?
It is harder if your property is listed, or within a conservation area, as there are many planning restrictions. If the property is not listed, then it is slightly easier. Most planners would like the home owner to retain as much of the existing fabric of the house, and retain the existing character. A pre-planning advice application is always a good idea to completely understand what you will be allowed to achieve before you submit for the householder planning application.
This room is just incredible! Please tell me what you wanted to get out of this space.
I wanted a light and open space where we could all be together as a family. The ceiling heights in the house are quite low, but we raised the ceilings in the kitchen extension, which provides a contrast to the existing rooms. We love our garden, and I wanted to see as much of this from the kitchen as possible. Windows surround the whole space, so we get very different light at different types of day. We also have a living area, dining table and a larder room just off the kitchen.
Did you change anything during the building process?
No. I had spent many months thinking about and re-designing the space before the construction work began, so I knew what we are going to build was exactly what we wanted.
What are the most important things to think about when designing a kitchen?
Well, I’m no cook, but, I love our kitchen island, and this has become a very social space, which I love. We used a local kitchen company, Woodwork from Tunbridge Wells and they gave a very personal service the whole way through. The kitchen is all handmade and painted once fitted. I love the light colours for both the cabinets and the granite worktop. We have quite a large larder, which was the old ground floor toilet, and this is great. Our fridge/freezer is in here, and all food and drinks – it makes the kitchen clutter free and feel more open.
The floor is Amtico. Many people questioned this decision! But, we have underfloor heating and Amtico is the best material to allow the most warmth in the room, it works really well. It looks like a dark timber floor, and it is very practical with our kids and a dog too.
The kitchen table and chairs are from Neptune. The lights in the kitchen are all from Jim Lawrence. Most of our new chairs and sofas are from Loaf and Sofas and Stuff. Other console tables and side tables are from Maison du Monde and Swoon.
The Boot Room
The boot room is painted in Hick’s Blue by Little Greene. I absolutely love this space, and the colour. With two boys, it is useful to store all their football boots, trainers, wellies in the benches and for them to be out of sight! The boot room is right by the side stable door, which is also painted in Hick’s Blue.
I wanted a family bathroom that would be good for our children in their young age, but also work when they are teenagers. The bathroom is big and functional, but also has lovely half height panelling and calming paint colours. All our bathroom fittings are from the Bathstore. The floor is also amtico.
Our bedroom is in the new extension. I wanted a room with lots of space and a separate dressing area. Our kitchen company also built the wardrobes in this area. I wanted calming colours and a relaxing room. The bedside tables and bed are from La Residence Interiors, a wonderful shop I discovered during the build. I love all their furniture! (Ed’s note: it’s such a small world, I also know the lovely family who own La Residence, but had no idea of the connection until I interviewed Sarah for this piece!)
The bathroom cabinet in the en-suite is again from the Bathstore, and this was pre-painted. I chose it because it worked with the tiles and paint colours already decided. I love the patterned floor tiles. These are from The Tile People in Haywards Heath.
I wanted the guest bedroom and guest ensuite to have a very welcoming feel. I wanted the room to be clean and light – whilst being in the oldest part of the house, i think the colours and fabrics have made the room feel lighter.
You can follow Sarah on Instagram at @breezearchitects and contact her at [email protected] and 07920 520 260.
Photographer @nicksmithphoto andLisa Bradburn Interior Design