This Enviable Rear Extension in London's Highgate Features An Indoor-Outdoor Home Spa

So... When can we move in?


A six-bedroom detached family-friendly modern home in Highgate, rebuilt from scratch by SHH Architects. The owners are a husband and wife with two children aged 9 and 3. The brief for SHH Lead architect Stuart McLauchlan was to create a lateral living space for the family, maximising light and daytime spaces on one level. The family wanted a home they could live with their young children and also entertain. The brief was also to be as eco-friendly as possible, with ground-source heat pumps; insulation that is double the statutory requirement; rainwater harvesting and a large bank of solar panels across the south-eastern extension, which look like ordinary roof tiles and which furnish the home’s hot water and pool heating. Retaining the 1970s neo-Georgian façade was also a planning stipulation. SHH helped find the property, and then renovated it.


The owners wanted a practical, working family kitchen – not a ‘show kitchen’. For easy family living, the kitchen area spills over into the breakfast area and also runs alongside the children’s playroom, so that the children and pets can be kept containable in this part of the ground floor by a bespoke sliding screen, which shuts this area off at night (by retracting into the kitchen units) when the parents are entertaining and using the reception and formal dining space.

A huge white glass splash-back doubles up as a whiteboard, ideal for mapping out the family's weekly itinerary and school pick-up schedule.

The reconstituted stone flooring was cut in huge 3.2 x 1.2m slabs so that there were as few joints showing as possible. The flooring was all laid prior to the kitchen going in, so that the kitchen itself could be changed if required at some future point without the client having to replace the flooring. The counter tops are in white reconstituted stone. Lighting is predominantly formed from a black ceiling strip with lights set within it, including directional lights and downlights over the counter space, plus additional lighting on the extract itself.


The whole ground floor is open plan, with the kitchen leading into an informal dining space, followed by a lounge and finally by a formal dining area, which features one of the scheme’s major design features – a monolithic 3.5m wide and 1m thick floor-to-ceiling limestone fireplace, which acts as a dividing wall on the ground floor between the lounge and the formal dining areas, with the fire visible on both sides. The structure was treated with resin to fill any gaps, before being fully polished with the end result indistinguishable from a single block of stone.


But the crowning piece in this stunning home is the glass extension, which houses a pool, jacuzzi, spa, toilets and a changing area, all surrounded by landscaped terracing and garden.

As the property had a large garden, there was easily enough space for a pool. The extension is directly accessible from the double doors of the dining room.

As the family is very sporty they wanted easy access to the garden and a series of fitness facilities, including a gym area, which forms the first part of the pool extension, with the pool itself and the other facilities a half-flight of stairs further down. The pool also opens completely on the south side to make the best use of available sunlight.

The extension also had to take account of a huge, listed copper beech tree, whilst planning permission stipulated that the roof of the pool complex had to be the same height as the garden fence. This in fact created an advantage for the scheme as the wind was thereby shut out, creating a great sun trap.

The upper pool area flows out into a pond.

The pool looks out over a half-acre garden and new subterranean plant spaces where the services for the pool and the house are located.

Design by SHH Architects.

Lotte Brouwer

Lotte is the Digital Editor for Livingetc, and has been with the website since its launch. She has a background in online journalism and writing for SEO, with previous editor roles at Good Living, Good Housekeeping, Country & Townhouse, and BBC Good Food among others, as well as her own successful interiors blog. When she's not busy writing or tracking analytics, she's doing up houses, two of which have features in interior design magazines. She's just finished doing up her house in Wimbledon, and is eyeing up Bath for her next project.