RISE Design Studio has maximised the spatial and environmental potential of a semi-detached house in London


Edmund Sumner

Located in Kensal Rise, north-west London, Douglas House is a domestic refurbishment project by RISE Design Studio. The brief included a ground-floor kitchen extension, reconfigured first floor with bathroom extension, and a loft conversion containing a bedroom, dressing room, bathroom and elevated ‘reading perch’. “We took permitted development rules to the limit in terms of increasing the volume of the ground and second floor”, explains project director Sean Ronnie Hill. “The volumes of the rear extension and dormer spaces evolved from the iterative process of reviewing the maximum potential in terms of planning policy and then reshaping them, framing views out, and creating key openings, such as the frameless glazed envelope between the new and old elements in the kitchen.”

Inside, Douglas Fir timber is used extensively for the stairs, floors, joinery and architraves. The material is intended to provide both visual cohesion and a sense of warmth and calm. The reading perch is also sheathed in Douglas Fir and features an openable rooflight for stargazing. A John Soane style ‘shelving door’ provides access to the MVHR. The kitchen comprises birch plywood joinery with matt laminate doors, and both stainless steel and Carrera marble worktops.

Ground, first, second and third-floor plans; section

Outside, the existing brickwork has been cleaned, and the pebbledash render to the side and rear elevations removed and replaced with fine textured render. The roof and dormer windows are clad with a mid-grey concrete roof tile. Folding and sliding cedar-clad doors provide both privacy and security at the rear of the house.

The project features a range of passive and active environmental technologies, including good levels of insulation and airtightness, roof-mounted solar panels, a mechanical ventilation heat recovery (MVHR) system, rainwater harvesting, and smart thermostats.

Additional Images


RISE Design Studio
Structural engineer
Tyrone Bowen, CAR
Capital Building Contractors

Flooring, architraves, stairs, joinery 
Dinesen Douglas Fir
Glazing, oriels, sliding doors, glazed envelope: 
Roofmaker Pro
Stained glass
Lead & Light