Can’t extend? How to add a mezzanine to your home and create extra space

So you want more space, but you don’t have a huge garden to build out into and you can’t afford to dig down under your home. What can you do?

Well, if you’re big on height but small on floor space, there is a way to add another room without adding a single square metre to the size of your home: a mezzanine level. 

 Mezzanines — essentially large balconies in rooms with high enough ceilings — are imaginative ways to create cool seating spaces or even small bedrooms.

Up and away: Mezzanines — essentially large balconies in rooms with high enough ceilings — can create cool seating spaces or even small bedrooms

They often appear in homes converted from other buildings, such as schools or barns, but can also be slipped into Victorian houses. 

You would normally need at least 4m of head height.

Aiming high

Kate Ellison and her husband, Robert, recently had a mezzanine level added to the kitchen in their Victorian house in Stoke Newington, North London, as part of a renovation designed by Emil Eve Architects.

The mezzanine hovers above the cupboards, and is lined with bookcases so the couple’s three children can sit reading or chat to their parents while the grown-ups prepare meals.

‘It creates such an interesting, modern space,’ says Kate. ‘It really gives the house that wow factor.’

Specialist firm Neville Johnson is a good option for creating home library spaces, and it offers plenty of styles that can be customised.

Usually when adding a mezzanine, the maximum size is half the area of the room below it, otherwise natural light won’t flow down. 

If you’re planning to use one as a bedroom, folding or sliding screens allow for privacy.

Ikea’s Tolkning room divider is crafted out of natural fibres and creates the feeling of a room within a room (£99).

Or, for a more colourful option, go for Wayfair’s Havell panel folding room divider with printed vintage motifs (£172.99).

Light and bright

Open-plan mezzanine spaces create flow in the house, while separate levels allow different areas to retain distinct character and functionality.

Brighton-based firm Life Size Architecture was hired to unite a house with the basement flat below it. 

The challenge was to bring natural light down into the below-ground area. 

Creating mezzanine levels let light spill down, and produced a pair of nooks where you could sit and read, or view the garden through a picture window.

Rob Beer, director of Life Size, says: ‘Originally the house was split into two properties — the owners lived in the upper house and let out the lower flat. 

‘So they actually had enough living area upstairs and we thought when we joined the two properties we could lose a room or two and create two mezzanines which would bring light downstairs.’ 

They were created with bespoke joinery and ironwork. One is a music room, the other is a sort of upper extension of the kitchen.

Complete overhaul

Architect Ana Sutherland, of firm Francisco Sutherland, was commissioned to redesign a three-storey flat in the Bunyan Court building, built in 1972 on London’s Barbican Estate — a famous example of Brutalist architecture.

To contrast with the concrete building, Sutherland designed an oak internal structure on a mezzanine that holds a bedroom and shower room. 

Shutters of the same oak open the bedroom to the room below or close it off for privacy.

‘The flat had a double-height space with a vaulted ceiling, so we could accommodate an extra floor, but the client wanted to keep some of the double-height space,’ she explains.

‘We created an upper level taking only half the space, so the room below still has some of the double-height. You can still look up at that lovely vaulted ceiling.’

She says the downside of mezzanines is that they are always linked to the room below, so you sacrifice privacy. 

‘They work best as ancillary spaces, such as studies, kids’ play areas or sleeping platforms.’

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