Greenlawns, a refurbishment and extension project based in Dorset, has been awarded the prestigious title of "Best Extension 2023” in the Telegraph’s Home of the Year awards. The award recognises owners Richard and Christina and Forest Architecture for its exceptional design and execution. 

Norrsken P32A windows and S309A doors are used throughout the main building of the house, alongside Siberian larch units in the extension. 

We chatted to Richard and Christina about their vision for the extension and their experience undertaking a full house renovation and extension. 

Can you share your vision and inspiration behind the design and style of your extension project? 

Our original 1930s home in Dorset was in a beautiful location, with half an acre of lovely garden wrapped around the building in a C-shape, but the north-facing kitchen was non-ideal. Cramped and with the smallest windows in the house, there was almost no view of the garden.

What key factors influenced your decision in terms of size, laying out the space and other design choices you made?

With the kitchen lacking light and views, we wanted a living space that feels more connected to our garden. There’s a boundary hedge at an angle to the home, and we decided to use that to guide the shape of the extension building so that the house feels enveloped by the garden. That was our goal.

Site: Richard & Christina's original 1930's Dorset home lacked light and access to the garden from the small kitchen. 

The final look: Winner of "Best Extension" in the Telegraph's "House of the Year" awards. 
Image © Richard Chivers. 

What aesthetic vision or style guided the project's design? How did you refine your ideas, and what did collaboration with your architect look like on that?

We liked the Scandi look - muted colours and natural finishes - so we included timber finishes throughout the extension and sand-coloured brick internally and externally. We knew we wanted the extension to sit quietly within the landscape; to blend and enhance the house rather than to stand out against it.  

We felt our architect [Natalie at Forest Architecture] was very in tune with us when it came to design. We had a shared mood board where we would pin images of the aesthetic we wanted to achieve. 

Choosing the right window supplier is obviously an important part of any project. What were the primary considerations that led you to choose Norrsken Windows for your project?

Windows were one of the first decisions we made - we visited the showroom and could immediately see and feel the quality of the products. Being local to Norrsken meant we could develop an in-person rapport with the company, and we felt confident that customer service would be carried out well if any issues arose. 

And have you had the opportunity to test Norrsken’s customer service yet? 

Yes - there was nothing huge to do, and the technicians always managed to fit us in promptly for any return visits. 

Choosing windows: Richard and Christina opted for P32A windows finished in Clear Lacquer internally to complement the muted tones throughout their home. Image © Richard Chivers. 

"To be honest, Norrsken windows were the easy bit."

What challenges did you face during the project?

To be honest, Norrsken windows were the easy bit. We started the project just before the pandemic hit, and the suppliers of other products in the house and extension like the large timber windows in the extension and the ash flooring were affected by supply chain issues. The products were delayed and, unfortunately, when they did come, the sizes or alignments with the joists weren’t right. Our contractor was local, and so we built up a rapport with him and could rely on him to respond quickly when we flagged something up. 

Replacement windows: Triple-glazed windows improve the thermal efficiency of Richard and Christina's home. Image © Richard Chivers.

Sustainability and energy efficiency are often important factors in modern construction. How did these considerations impact your choice of windows?

We used triple-glazed Norrsken windows as replacement windows throughout the house. We’d read about the benefits and, to be honest, the cost of triple glazing wasn’t that much higher than double glazing.

And do you notice a difference?

Definitely. We’re never cold, even though we have a big open space now. We’re also going to add solar panels to the roof and a green roof on the extension in due course. 

We considered heat pumps, underfloor heating and other additional works during the renovation, but with each new addition of course the workload mounts - as does the cost to put it all in, and the disruption to the home in the meantime - and we had to rationalise and prioritise how and where we spent our money. 

In retrospect, is there anything you would have done differently in the design or selection process for your extension project?

When you’re in the middle of it all, it’s difficult to know whether you’re overthinking matters - we worried about lots of different timber finishes around the house not being cohesive, but actually wood is quite forgiving - it all blends together very nicely. The lighting scheme is extremely important. We found that the soft glow cast by wall-lights on dimmers is much better than cramming in too many bright spotlights.

It’s also worth spending that bit more on windows or flooring. Even if it seems too much at the time - it’s worth it. We’ve found that going with the cheaper options from companies without the good reviews and good customer service is really a false economy.

"It’s worth spending that bit more on windows or flooring. Even if it seems too much at the time - it’s worth it... going with the cheaper options from companies without the good reviews and good customer service is really a false economy."

What advice would you offer to others considering a similar project?

Choose good suppliers and, in our case, we used a local builder whose work we’d been recommended, and whose properties we’d been able to see. Over the project, we were able to build a relationship with his team and as he only took on projects within the local area, he was readily contactable should any queries arise.

Whatever budget you have in your head, think about it being doubled. It’s going to be.

Be prepared in advance - in fact, know as much as possible in advance - so when the time comes to make decisions you don’t make a poor choice, or end up with a substandard outcome. That means light switches, lighting locations, colours, finishes, materials - all of it. After the initial plans, we didn’t really have too much input from our architect - although she did draw us up a lighting schedule - so we had to push to make those decisions ourselves. This helps the trades to press on when you’re not around on site.

Make those decisions, and then source the materials you want - down to the hardware, the plumbing materials. Don’t assume anything based on one conversation with the builders, - for example, we knew we wanted to use brushed nickel all the way through the house for our plumbing fixtures and metal fixtures, so we sourced it ourselves. Do the research and put the work in to get what you want, or it won’t end up the way you wanted. We’d recommend sticking to a minimal material selection and following it all through the house. For us that was pine, ash and larch timber, sand-coloured bricks, brushed nickel… we had those materials specified and we stuck to them. 

COVID definitely made more people aware that your living environment makes a huge difference to your quality of life. 

"It’s hard work. It’s expensive. But when you invest in your home and create a connection with the landscape you definitely have a happier life."


Images © Richard Chivers. 

products used

S309A Inward open alu-clad framed entrance door
P32A alu-clad triple glazed outward open windows 


Internal clear Lacquer
External RAL 7004 Signal Grey

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