There are times when only a modern design will do. Behind the homogeneous facade of period properties, contemporary architecture is taking over. Nadi Jahangiri, director of SCALA architects, a London-based firm that specialises in this kind of work, thinks the compromise gives us the best of both worlds.
"You still have the Victorian shell, but you are effectively building a new house on the ground floor which allows you to live the way you want to," he says. "The modern designs we build are no longer considered the preserve of architectural magazines. There is a growing market for this type of thing. It's now pretty mainstream."
Keeping your modem attachments out of sight suits local authority planners charged with preserving the traditional feel of your street. It may also make it easier to secure planning permission for those living in conservation areas where even a discreet loft conversion is the subject of hot debate.
But not all modem additions need to be hidden away. Done properly, the right extension can not only win over the planners but also add hundreds of thousands of pounds to the value of your home.
The design by SCALA architects for a typical four-bedroom late Victorian house in North London, which first appeared in Self Build & Design magazine, shows what can be achieved. The value of the house jumped from £600,000 to more than £1 million after the owners spent £160,000 transforming the ground floor. The simple glass box extension that spans the previously wasted dogleg at the back of the house makes up most of the cost at £110,000.
Converting the space, which was used only to store bins, has changed the way that the owners use the house. The ground floor is now awash with natural light and the bright kitchen opens up to a patio garden uniting interior and exterior space.
The conversion is clearly visible from the road, which is in a conservation area, but using top-quality materials in a design that is sympathetic to the style of the original building gained the planners' approval.
"Conservation officers ask to inspect the building materials to check that your design will really enhance the existing building," Nadi Jahangiri says. "You can't get away with producing a design that looks good on paper but ends up looking cheap in real life."
SCALA architects: 020 7503 3190
A Chartered Member of the Royal Institute of British Architects