A downstairs playroom - two alternative approaches

Over the past couple of weeks, BetterPAD have been looking at options for the middle sections of a ground floor layout of an already extended terraced home in south east London. When you are looking at reconfiguring a ground floor layout, it’s not always obvious to know what to do with the middle rooms. In properties that have had an infill extension at the rear, the middle of the house can find itself cut off from natural light, and sits between the modern light filled extension at the rear, and a more formal living space at the front. Many people look for a visual connection between the front and rear, and opt to open up the staircase area to create the feeling of more space and light, whist in other cases this is an ideal location to locate function spaces that don’t necessarily need daylighting, such as the downstairs loo, a utility room or a coat cupboard.


The existing layout (in the plan below) in this example doesn’t quite work for our clients who have lived here for a number of years, so they asked us to look at the space between the living area at the front, and the open plan kitchen and dining area at the rear, which they currently use as a reading room. They are looking for a visual connection to both the front and rear when they are in this room, which doesn’t currently exist.

In this property, entry to the front room is via the reading room meaning the hallway is more enclosed than it could be. Our client wanted to increase the natural flow in this area, moving the downstairs cloakroom to free up space in the kitchen area for storage, and to utilise the internal reading room as a playroom for their family. This would be a dedicated area for the children and their toys with built in storage, whilst adding a second circulation route between front and rear running along the non-stair side of the house.


The first layout we worked up adds a door to the living room at the front replacing the existing opening into the reading room further along the hallway. This allows for a slightly larger playroom and new openings leading off the hallway to house useful storage and the relocated cloakroom. Access to the playroom is now via the living room and a new opening from the kitchen. This replaces the existing internal window above the kitchen units which only allows a limited amount of light through from the back of the house. Adding a glass door will flood the playroom with more light. The kitchen layout will be slightly reconfigured and the units pushed along the wall to allow room to walk through the new opening into the playroom creating circulation to that side of the house. Having moved the cloakroom from its existing awkward location to the hallway, there is more space for full height storage within the kitchen area.

Further design development allowed us to refine some of these ideas further. We revisited the layout and kept the door into the front room in its original location, which means that the living room size is not compromised but the playroom is slightly smaller than in the first option. Again, the storage and the downstairs cloakroom are located off the hallway, but although more modest in size provides an adequate solution to the family’s needs. There are some structural elements introduced here - the sliding Crittall style glass door is introduced in a different location to the existing internal window for example, which allows a more linear and efficient kitchen layout. This option includes additional full height kitchen storage, a secondary informal lounge area with views over the garden and a new seating layout in the dining area.


You can get a feel for how this option will look from the sketches below - the first shows how the kitchen unit arrangement will look with the addition of the sliding glass door. The second shows how the glass door will create a stunning feature in the playroom, allowing the space to be partitioned off as a self contained space for the children to spread out their toys if required. You can see how these changes will enhance family living and its adjacency to the living room at the front and the social space at the rear making it a truly family orientated space.

If you are considering something similar, why not give us a call to chat through your ideas.