The Eames Chair

The chairs designed by Charles and Ray Eames in the mid 20th Century are still among the most sort after items of furniture now.  Reproductions of the dining and lounge chairs can be seen in contemporary homes because the original designs were so forward thinking.

Charles Eames was an architect who, together with his wife Ray, set up one of the most influential multi-disciplinary design firms of that time. Ray Eames was trained as a painter and brought her own unique qualities to the architectural firm.  Together they designed not only buildings and furniture but exhibitions, films, toys and puzzles.  Their design approach knew no bounds.

In their chair designs innovative materials were used, plywood, plastic, fibreglass and aluminium were made into elegant forms.  They had a close relationship with Herman Miller and Vitra, leading names in the furniture industry, who manufacture their designs.  These companies were at the forefront of new technologies and ready to embrace the innovative designs created by Charles and Ray.

Now it's possible to buy reproductions of their chairs and a number of companies are producing key designs at a variety of price points.  Lakeland Furniture  have a range of chairs at fantastic prices as well as other designer ranges including Arne Jacobsen and Jean Prouve.

The RAR chair, a wonderful modern reinterpretation of a rocking chair, is made in a child's size in a variety of colours.  Lakeland also have  a wide range of dining chairs and bar stools in moulded plastic including the iconic Eames DAR chair, known as the Eiffel Tower chair because it was the inspiration for the original cast iron support frame; it is both sophisticated and comfortable.

BEFORE AND AFTER - Victorian Villa

This attractive semi-detached Victorian villa had a beautiful garden which was not well connected to the house and the owners wanted to create a contemporary garden room to extend their living space and have good views and access to their garden. Cost was also an important element, the extension had to be simple but elegant. 

The resulting extension used simple sliding doors allowing two thirds of the rear glazed wall to open up to the garden and also to have good garden views.  The flat roof was drained to an integral gutter with aluminium fascia powder coated to the same colour as the patio doors, again keeping clear, simple lines to the extension.

Internally the space has been opened up to the garden and walls removed to create more generous spaces.  The narrow door openings have changed to a sliding glass wall.

The new garden room serves as an informal Living/Dining room with a new fireplace set into the wall.  The wall of glazing has light curtains to protect against the glare of the sun and for privacy at night.  The sloping glazed roof light brings light into the darker areas of the house and has opening sections to allow a good cross flow of ventilation.  The room is heated with underfloor water filled ducts.   


The Before and After Gallery is being updated to show more projects.  Recording the changes to house renovations gives inspiration to many of our readers - we also welcome you to send in any of your own projects.
External Before and After

Interior Before and After

In some ways the new extension was not a radical change to this London house, the owners wanted a new garden room with good views of the lovely outlook and did have an existing conservatory.  However, the existing standard upvc conservatory did not perform the function well.  Overheating because of lack of insulation meant the owners had to keep blinds draw much of the time and the connection between the conservatory and garden was via a side door. The new extension made a great difference to the owners lives both through the experience of the new space and the functional aspects.

The new extension has good thermal performance and allows both light and views into the houses.  The sliding/folding doors and level threshold detail gives a real connection from the living space to the garden and the corner glazing allows wide views, giving the illusion of the garden surrounding the house.

Visit our Before and After Gallery for more projects.


Now summer is coming to a close it's time to review changes to your home that can improve it for next year. The lovely long summer of 2013 has encouraged us to think about the connection of the house to the garden and the relaxed living style it gives.

There are so many door types to chose from to open up the living space to the garden, sliding/folding doors open up to the maximum but sliding doors have bigger pane sizes and less visual interruption to the view of the garden, but with the disadvantage of less opening space.  Your choice will depend upon the size of opening you require onto the garden and how you want to frame the views.

Sky Frame have designed a sliding door system with minimal framing and an integral threshold drain, the sleekest system around for maximum views.

Using a glazed corner can both give wider views of the garden and, if opening corner doors are used, can seamlessly integrate a patio giving an illusion of greater space.  Both sliding/folding and sliding doors can be used for corner openings; a fixed glazed corner is also a visual way of integrating the inside and outside space, especially if frameless glazing is used as the project below using Cantifix glazing systems.
Height of doors is also important, using floor to ceiling doors increases the light and views and high level 'clerestory' windows and roof lights will show tree tops and sky - your living space will feel part of the nature around rather than an enclosed internal space.
It is important to consider the aspect of your house when using extensive glazing; south facing aspects are popular but you must take into account the solar gain and use the correct glass specification, blinds and curtains as necessary to make the living space comfortable.  Aspects receiving less sun can work well with glazing, giving views of a sunny garden but without the full glare on the living space.


The usual summer buzz in Wimbledon will be doubled this year when both the tennis Championship and the Olympics come to this leafy London suburb. Wimbledon is made up of 'The Village' and the Town Centre which date from different periods. The village originated in medieval times and then grew when large mansions where built for wealthy and titled people in the 18th Century. The area developed further in the 19th Century with large suburban homes built for London businessmen and smaller cottages on the hill for their staff.  Good travel links were established with the arrival of the Stagecoach run from London to Portsmouth; the Dog and Fox pub was a stopping point on the way with stabling for horses at the rear - now the Wimbledon Village Stables.

Arts and Craft Wimbledon

The town centre down the hill from the village developed following the construction of the railway and the suburban growth of the two areas joined around the end of the 1800's. The mixture of design influences over the centuries can be seen around the town with beautiful Georgian and Victorian houses and some lovely Arts and Craft houses to the east of the village. With the open spaces and facilities it is a desirable place for families to live.

Wimbledon Common

Contemporary architecture sits alongside the period buildings with some impressive additions to the area including the Garden Hall to St Mary's Church designed by architect Terry Pawson (shown below). Other new houses and commercial buildings have altered the fabric of the town.  The shopping centre, constructed in the '70s, was part of a major redevelopment of the town and although it provides a lively centre to the town the loss of the old town hall is still missed as a gathering place for public events.

Contemporary buildings in Wimbledon


The excitement of planning your new home project starts here - with inspiration and hard facts from experts along with new innovations and example projects.

 Last year's projects from the Brooks Practice in Wimbledon and Surrey

What is the key to a successful home renovation? The expense of full professional help throughout a project can be expensive but you will find many designers and architects that offer a menu of services and can tailor the expense of their services to your budget. There is much information throughout the web and of course Design Your House, and with the right resources you can make good progress with design decisions yourself.

Find out how to stretch your money and prioritise your aims - research pays off, find a guide on our website to Construction Costs.

Do allow sufficient time for planning your project and check with our section on Planning and Construction
for information about local authority consents and latest planning updates from our consultant.

Wanting professional help? Interview a number of architects and designers before chosing. It is not just about liking their work but also how they will work with you - communication between client and designer is the key to a successful project.

Write your project brief - it can start as a 'wish list' illustrated with images you like from the web and magazines. Transform it into a diagram of the space ready to convert into a construction drawing. If you are technically minded and want to draw up plans yourself look at the DIY Design Guide for CAD packages we have reviewed.

Find 'Before and After' photos of house extensions and renovations on our Gallery page. Although there may be a project similar to yours use it for inspiration only, remember you are designing just for you and make it unique.