It has been great to have the opportunity to create your idea of an ideal home, and choose the style and colours that will surround you everyday. Reading Kevin McCloud’s ‘The best of grand designs’ he sums up the uplifting experience of creating your space perfectly;
‘I want to create my idea of a beautiful space because I think it will have a positive effect on my sense of well being. Don’t just live in the building benefit from it. Think light, space, colour, function and ritual.’
One of the main lessons drilled into us during my interior design degree, was to ensure a space is functional, not just aesthetically pleasing. This means thinking about how you use the space, the materials you use, and ergonomics. Here are a few things to think about when you are designing/choosing a floorpan for your new home
1. Get the basics down. Write a list of the things you NEED, how many people will live in the house? (Think about future additions, if you are planning some) Do you need a home office for work? Are your children going to be teenagers soon who would like their own space? Does your bathroom need to be accessible for disabled or elderly people? How many people need to fit around the table in the dining room?
I need a studio at the front of my house, so I can work from home and potential clients can meet me without goggling my housekeeping skills, which are average at best. And I always think having a home that welcomes everyone with accessibility in the bathroom makes good sense.
2. Think about what is important to you and your family and create a hierarchy, concentrate on these areas. There is no point in spending your budget creating a state of the art kitchen, if you currently use your oven as a cupboard, clearly cooking extravagant meals isn’t really your thing, so a simple galley kitchen would probably suffice.
My parents have a very large house with 3 large living rooms, but truthfully we only ever use the one at the heart of the home adjoining the kitchen and dining. We have a small block of land, so space is at a bit of a premium and since it is only Joel and I we didn’t see the need for an extra media room. We would rather swallow that space to create one large living area, instead of having two small ones, this way we can fit all of our friends and family in the same room. Hurrah!
Create a page to take with you to the builder which has 3 columns.
- WOULDN’T IT BE NICE
Your builder is an expert so might have suggestions on how to get best of both worlds. It never hurts to ask.
3. Think about any furniture you will be taking with you and ensure the doorways and hallways will let you keep them. Ross from Friends was a lesson to us all that sometimes “pivoting” doesn’t work.
4. Take a moment to really think about how you move and use your current space. What everyday rituals does your family engage in? Do you all sit together having a quick breakfast? In which case an island bench in the kitchen with enough space and bar stools for everyone is important to create space for this to continue.
5. Look at your current space and see what works really well for you and think about why it works and how to incorporate that into your new home.
6. Then have a look at what really isn’t working for your way of life. If someone in the family often does night shift it is important there is a quiet place for them to sleep away from the hustle and bustle of the rest of the house in the day.
7. It is sensible to create a passive solar design which helps keep your house cooler in Summer and warmer in Winter by considering the aspect of your individual block of land. Here in Queensland you want to avoid a West facing living area because of the hot afternoon sun, it is best to have utility type areas on this side and smaller windows if possible. On the Northern face of your house should be where your main living areas are, because the high sun of summer means they are shaded and then light and warmth pour in with the low Winter sun. Large eaves also help with this by shading windows. Solar panels on the roof also facing North at a 30degree angle optimum for power generation can help keep bills low and add property value.
8. Think about the placement of windows and doors, ensuring there is enough space to enter a room, and large windows to provide lots of natural light, which is good for our well being and internal clocks. Ensure your windows and doors line up to allow cross breezes and think about where those breezes will come from.
9. Ensure your house plan will fit with in the local councils requirements on your block, there are guidelines in place for set backs from the boundaries and the size house you can have on a certain size block. Remember that anything 400 squares or under is considered a small block and the envelope you can actually build on my be less then you think.
10. Remember storage space, do you have a large collection of 80’s fluorescent haired trolls? It would be a shame not to make provisions for them. Wouldn’t it?
11. Ask for a bath that is actually big enough to fit the tallest person who will use it, we made sure ours was at least 1750mm as there is no point running lovely hot water, indulging in your favourite bubbly scrub and anticipating a leisurely bath if you are just to spend the evening playing knees or nipples under the water. Somehow it spoils the ambience.
12. Think about the electrical plan and what outlets you will need in each space. My electrician friend Brendan tells me even if you don’t have the budget for those amazing pendants by the bed now, ask for a simple junction box or future provisions to be placed there for now. Otherwise you could end up with a strangely positioned switch as it is tricky to get wiring into cavity walls past a certain height.
13. If you have the room large hallways/entrances give a great sense of space and allow any furniture you may have to glide down it with ease.
14. A great way to get inspired and understand what is important to you is to visit some display homes. Look at the rooms and flows of the houses you like, do they have large windows and alfresco or do you feel more comfortable in a cosier home? Visit as many as you can because it really helps you get a sense of what it will be like to ACTUALLY be in the space, it can be tricky with a 2D drawing.
15. Take a tape measure around with you, you will have to make peace with looking overly keen and measure certain dimensions that appeal to you. Maybe a friend has an island bench which is the IDEAL distance from the main kitchen wall or a garage which houses a boat similar to yours. It would be a shame to get it wrong when all it took was a moment and a tape measure.
If you have any tips for building please feel free to comment below, you might help someone and isn’t that nice?