Downsizing in Dorset

Laura Simpkins

by Laura Simpkins

27/12/2019, in Main Blog | New Forest & Bournemouth Blog

Dorset beaches

Given that the average age for downsizing is 64, it was no surprise that our clients chose to move to Dorset to be near grandchildren and to enjoy all that this wonderful area has to offer in terms of seaside and country living. A chalet bungalow on a large site opened up the possibility of remodelling the small internal spaces to suit a more modern lifestyle and provide plenty of space for visiting family and friends.

Side Extension and internal remodelling to 1960’s Chalet Bungalow, Bransgore, Dorset

Dorset side extension and internal remodelling

This bungalow had already had the loft converted into two double bedrooms. The new staircase had been put in the dining room making it almost unusable. None of the ground floor spaces made the most of the garden, which is a key feature of the property and interest of the owners. The maze with dark spaces on the ground floor needed a substantial rethink. The problems were as follows:

  • Small, dark kitchen with access directly onto driveway
  • No space for coats, boots, outside equipment
  • Very small dining room with hardly space for a dining table
  • No space for hobbies or entertaining
  • No direct access to the garden

A chartered architect can create a bespoke, cost effective solution

Dorset remodelling

The owners had bought the bungalow with a view to doing ‘something’ to it. They didn’t know where to start and were really more interested in planting up the garden. If you know that your home doesn’t work for your lifestyle but don’t know quite what the problem is, an architect can be the ideal person to look at this puzzle with you. The result will be a bespoke solution that could be more cost effective than you think. A qualified architect had a duty to make sure any work to your home will not put you in negative equity and they will want to make sure that any addition to your home will solve circulation problems rather than create them.

Replacing an unused garage with a ‘hobby space’ log cabin

‘hobby space’ log cabin

After looking at numerous sketch designs it was decided to change the ground floor layout significantly. The first step was to replace a concrete garage with a large log cabin from Stable Structures in Christchurch. Eventually this would provide storage and space for the client’s numerous hobbies but initially was ideal storage for furniture during the construction process, which was disruptive due to the internal remodelling. The orientation of the cabin also allows the owners to enjoy different views of the garden and is an attractive structure to look at from the bungalow.

Remodel and relocation of rooms

Remodel and relocation of rooms

The ground floor spaces were rearranged to create the following:

  • Small kitchen at rear altered to create new bedroom
  • Existing dining room and bedroom opened up to create large open living room with views to front and rear gardens and direct access to back garden via French doors
  • Existing living room changed to large kitchen with great views over front garden and space for central dining table
  • New single storey side extension to create utility space and coat storage
  • Additional loft style storage in roof space of extension
  • Sun pipes in extension to create more natural light
  • New log burning stove creates a focal point in living room and can heat the whole bungalow.

A New Kitchen with views of the garden

A New Kitchen with views of the garden

The new family style kitchen provides a sociable place to eat and cook. The table can extend to seat a larger party when entertaining. Our clients enjoy the views over the substantial front garden which has been planted in a dramatic prairie style. Creating a modest extension and reordering existing rooms produced a cost effective solution to the issues faced in this bungalow. The result is a long term home which can be cosy for two, but flexible for hosting large family gatherings. This has meant that the home has hosted numerous birthday, wedding and anniversary parties and that – despite downsizing – our clients can still feel that they can be at the hub of family life, including each new grandchild that comes along.

What should I think about with a side extension?

Dorset side extension

Externally, the design of this side extension (to the right in the photo) matches the existing bungalow with roof tiles, render and door styles carefully sourced to match, but is subservient to it, with the ridge height lower and the both front and rear elevations stepped back from the existing house. An important consideration is the location of the neighbouring property – at least 1m gap is required between an existing building and new extension and it is likely that a party wall agreement may be needed. This side extension does not have any side windows and does not create shade to the neighbouring property. The new pitched roof matches the slope of the existing. Careful design consideration ensured that this project had a smooth ride through the planning application process with New Forest District Council.

Downsizing your property can be a great opportunity to refresh your lifestyle and free yourself of some of the trappings and hoardings of previous times. There’s plenty to read about the benefits of downsizing, and increasing the space around you, and it can set you up for a great retirement.