In the United Kingdom, the term “mullet architecture” describes homes that appear traditional from the front and feature a modern extension in the back. This common occurrence is a result of strict conservation laws that aim to maintain the historical street view while allowing residents to renovate behind the facade. Local architects like George Bradley, director of London-based studio Bradley Van Der Straeten and host of Another Architecture Podcast, are all too familiar with these complicated rules. In order to update a typical Victorian terrace house, he and his team had to navigate an endless list of codes.
The objective was to produce a spacious, light-filled kitchen without raising the low ceiling or exceeding height constraints on the boundary with the neighbor. To accomplish this, George imagined a sloped glass roof to top the side extension. On the interior, a curved edge ramps up to the skylight to maximize volume and northern sun exposure, creating an airy room infused with soothing, soft daylight.
The clients also requested trendless finishes, so a classic, monochromatic wood look was the obvious choice. Custom cabinet fronts with recessed, half-moon-shaped handles were crafted from natural oak. The same species was sourced for the built-in banquette, wall paneling, and engineered floors. With a clear connection to the garden beyond, a serene, organic feel was achieved.
Location: “London is a city made up of a conglomeration of little villages, and Crouch End is one of the nicest ones,” George explains. “It’s further out of the city, but it’s on a hill, so it’s got good air and good views. Generally, the properties are generous there. It’s a nice, family-oriented neighborhood.”
The before: With low ceilings and pale yellow, Shaker-style cabinets, the original kitchen was not intended for living. The tight, rectangular room was once a service quarter, so its layout was inefficient for modern use.
The inspiration: “The clients were very keen that it be quite timeless, quite minimal, but quite classic, as well,” George recalls. “They loved the idea of the natural earthiness of the timber, but they didn’t want something that felt like a fad or sort of funky, so a lot of the design is quite ageless.”
Square footage: 35 square meters (approximately 377 square feet)
Budget: “For a typical extension like this, you would be looking at approximately £3,000 per square meter excluding taxes,” George estimates. That’s about $359 per square foot.
Cabinet Fronts, Wall Cladding, Shelving, and Benches: Custom Natural Oak by joiner Jai Brodie. “We wanted to keep the palette really simple,” says George. “Oak was the main material used for the kitchen. The key thing was we worked with a joiner that we knew, who is a friend of the company and that we’d worked with before. He’s a real craftsman and specialist.”
Flooring: Wood and