Design and layout
With the incredible selection of styles and designs available today, it can be a challenge to narrow your choice down to a single home. As you visit display homes and look over builders’ plans, take time to consider how various designs would work for you and your family.
- Space. Today’s design trends lean towards well-designed smaller homes, with little ‘wasted’ space and all the details and amenities you could want. Before you start wondering about square metreage in the particular home, consider the actual space available and if it is adequate to your needs. Often space is a matter of perception. High ceilings and large window areas can create a feeling of spaciousness without adding the cost of extra floor area. Also, builders might be able to move interior, non-load-bearing walls or columns in a particular home in order to give you the additional space you need in a particular area.
- Function. Think about how you like to live and about your daily routines. Where will the children play, study and watch TV while you are preparing meals? Do you require private spaces for work or relaxing, away from everyone else? Where will overnight guests stay? And so on. What if you love a particular home but the bathroom simply won’t work for you? What if your family grows – is the layout flexible enough to allow for future changes or modifications? Discuss your needs with your builder who can direct you to the homes that would be most suited to your lifestyle. Many designs are available in different facades and layouts. Also, new home builders are often able to customise plans and can advise you on cost and construction implications if you need to make changes.
- Movement patterns. Movement in, out and inside your home is an important aspect of design. Consider how easy is it to get shopping bags from the car to the kitchen? Or let the dog into the backyard? Can kids take off their shoes without trekking mud into the house? Do some areas serve as ‘corridors’ to other areas, thereby limiting privacy and furniture placement? Can everyone get around the house safely and easily?
- Open plan spaces. One of the enduring and popular design trends in new homes is the move away from formal and separate rooms on the ground floor. Dining, kitchen and living areas are often integrated into a single ‘great room’ – from the front entrance you can often enjoy a wide open view to the rear of the home. Open plan brings its own challenges. For instance, where to hang pictures, how to add visual interest and how to delineate different living and working areas without closing up the space. It can also have an impact on the energy efficiency of the home, making larger areas that can’t be closed off to make that ‘cosy’ space more difficult to heat and cool. There are lots of possibilities. Bulkheads and other ceiling treatments can provide visual interest and delineate spaces. A mixture of lighting (ambient, task and accent) will create distinct atmospheres within a great room. Flooring can have a big impact – using a single material throughout the entire area, for instance, offers a different feeling than ‘mix and match’ flooring. Columns, partial walls or glass-block walls can help to define private areas without taking away from the overall sense of open space.
- Light. Natural light is important to the overall appeal of your home and contributes to your feeling of wellbeing. New homes are light and bright by design, but you may want to consider enlarging the window area in your home to let even more light in, or increasing the size of exterior glass doors. There is a great selection of attractive, energy-efficient windows and doors available, and your builder can advise you on the best possible choices for a particular model and location.
- Storage. Without adequate storage, a home can become cluttered and harder to keep tidy. Look for cupboards located near the entrance door, and in every room as needed. Check that the home has enough space for linen, sports equipment, and so on. There is a wealth of storage solutions, from prefabricated units to built-in customised systems. Ask your new home builder for advice.
Design for today's living
Good home design begins with an understanding of how people live in their homes. New home builders are offering plans and designs to meet the needs of today’s consumers, using modern technology to build homes that are attractive, highly functional and feel good to live in. Often a builder’s standard designs are just a starting point; many builders will customise homes to suit the homebuyers’ individual needs.
Below are some of characteristics of new home design.
- Efficient use of space. Even small homes, if well laid out with good details and amenities, can reflect some of the spacious characteristics of a larger home. High, raked or cathedral ceilings can add to the sense of space and also allow for larger windows to visually extend your home.
- Open layouts. One of the more popular design trends is the open concept, or open plan, which can include a large informal space for living, working, eating and relaxing. Partial walls, bulkheads, lighting and floor treatment help to define and add character to individual areas within this space. Depending on the size of the home, an open plan may replace or complement formal living and dining rooms.
- Natural light. Advances in the technology of windows and doors, including double glazing and energy-efficient glass and window frames, make today’s new homes light and bright, without losing heat in winter or overheating in summer.
- Kitchens that work. With today’s open layouts, the quality and the finishing details of a new kitchen are done with careful attention to matching or complementing the surrounding spaces. Enjoy well-appointed, organised workspaces; attractive, separate eating areas; and great natural and built-in lighting.
- Flexible space. New home layouts are designed to accommodate changing household needs over time. A den can become an extra bedroom or a nursery. General use rooms can be converted to a home office, family entertainment area or a home theatre. These and other flexible design approaches build adaptability into the home at the time of construction. If necessary, features such as wide doorways and reinforced bathroom walls for grab rails can also be built in to accommodate special health and mobility needs.
- Built-in convenience. Look for direct access from the garage to the home; garages and utility areas with good storage space; walk-in robes and additional features such as extra-large pantries, lots of shelving and a built-in area for waste and recycling bins.Lots of storage. A new home is designed with plenty of built-in storage to eliminate clutter: ample closet space in bedrooms; drawers, cupboards and shelving in the bathroom; linen closets; and room in the kitchen for appliances, pots and pan organisers and pantries.
- Ambience. New homes have shiny surfaces, clean lines, warm natural materials, pleasing curves and attractive accents.
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