I read a very heartening article by Cameron Jewell, indicating the average floor area of new Australian home has peaked. You may have seen it posted the HACK architecture facebook page. Unfortunately this is not before reaching an average of 248m² in 2009. The reasons for this change are cited as a concern for operational affordability. I am sure there are many factors at play to contribute to this, not least the pricing of electricity in recent years. With this in mind and a strong preference for quality over quantity, I have put together 6 tips to consider when in the early stages of considering your new home or renovating your existing home.
1. Do a stocktake of your life. Does all the stuff you own fit your current lifestyle or the lifestyle you want? This will be different for everyone and needs careful consideration. Checkout the great blog Zen Habits for more thinking about reducing the clutter in your life. It could be life a changing exercise.
2. Double or Triple Garage. More often the not I see the second garage space is storing a car but is a workshop or storage space instead. If you need extra storage space, could this be design as storage space and be far more efficient as storage space. By this I mean, is the space the ideal dimensions for your requirements? Or if you have two cars, do you really need two cars? If so, do they both need to be housed in a lockup garage or can a carport work just as well? Could your garage be rethought and have a second use while a car is not in it? Consider the connection of this space to other areas. Could it expand an entertaining area for larger infrequent gatherings?
3. Corridors and Circulation. Have a clear circulation path that doesn’t cut diagonally across a space will make the room easier to furnish and also a calmer space to be in. Consider what space is a destination and what circulation space. All too often we see the lounge room become so cut up that it becomes unusable as a lounge room, it become a very large and inefficient circulation space. Careful planning will limit singular use spaces like a corridor or transform them to being more than just a corridor.
4. Use volume to open a space up. If you have a smaller space that you want to make feel more generous, consider raising the height of the ceiling to give the room more volume. You will feel the difference when using the space.
5. Look for many uses of any one space. Good design will always have multiple uses for a space or multiple facets to a space. Think through all the possible functions that a single room might have, if you have a length of corridor can storage be integrated into this space in a way that gives back or enhances the experience of that space. The outcome of this may require some tweaks and adjustments from the norm, but it is this that add character to the space and the experience as a whole.
6. Extend the view beyond the four walls. The strategic placement of windows can allow a small view beyond the internal space. This can have large effect on how big or small a space may feel. A strong connection of internal space to an outdoor space will again add the feeling of even greater area to the room. Be careful not to water this idea down, the key is in a strong connection. Make this as seamless as possible. The use of bi-fold doors with a flush minimal threshold offers a stronger connection when open then a sliding door with clunky up-stand and step down of the floor finish.
A new building project is always a major life changing event. It is carries risk and opportunity both financially and emotionally. Don’t squander this, grab it with both hands and run.
If you think I have missed some important points here, please share them for all in the comments below.