We take some elements in home design for granted—things that are standard on every real estate listing, like bedrooms, bathrooms, and a kitchen. But a modern house design offers so many more options. With some simple reconfigurations and interior choices, you can make a custom home design made to fit your lifestyle and interests.
What features should I consider in a house plan?
At the planning stage, the world is your oyster. Consider what you’ll need for at least the next property cycle (7-10 years) and how your needs might evolve. That could mean: adding in an elevator to help you stay in a two-storey home design as you age or mobility changes; creating a separate suite or granny flat for teenagers or an ageing parent; or perhaps an extra workspace that lets you pursue your passion, lockdown or not.
Extra bedrooms can be a bit of a blank slate for a feature that brings richness to your life—such as a cinema room, recording studio, gym/workout space or well-appointed home office.
Love the outdoors? How about a ‘mudroom’?
No, we’re not talking about a mudbath (but if a home spa is your thing, then let’s do it!). This old-school American term refers to a home’s secondary entrance—a dedicated space to remove muddy shoes and wet clothing to protect the rest of the house. A mudroom has practical elements such as a bench to sit down on, storage that allows for airflow and hard, moppable flooring. Such a space is often paired with the laundry for ease of washing.
For home designs in Perth, it might be better referred to as a ‘sand room’ with a showerhead and hose to wash down the wetsuit and surfboard after a trip to the beach. Yet another option is to include these facilities in your outdoor living area.
Must-haves in a modern home kitchen
Innovations in appliances and fittings continue to this day. Many new home builders have swapped dysfunctional under-counter cupboards for large soft-close drawers and rotating corner cupboard racks. If kneeling to check the Sunday roast is always a pain, why not look at wall-mounted options with a slide-away door. If you’re a wok-master, upsize those cooktop burners. And hey, you could always trade-in some cupboard space for a wine fridge or two!
Stone benchtops in the kitchen look fantastic and are easy to sanitise, but they’re also perfect if you’re someone who loves to bake pastries or make pasta. That’s because, unlike Formica, stone keeps dough cool while working on it.
With W.A.’s fantastic weather, you also have to think that an outdoor kitchen is worth the investment. An outdoor kitchen (as with the Cottesloe) is ideal for entertaining and means smoke and oils from grilling (that can be bad for respiratory health) won’t end up as a film on your interiors.
Talk to your home builder about the smart home future
IoT (the Internet of Things) promises to change the way we live, and for many, it already is. Connected devices like door locks, lighting, smart heating, video doorbells and air-quality monitors can inform a homeowner or be automated to maximise efficiency. While many devices are wireless, installed appliances—such as heating or roller-shutters—should be carefully considered for how easy they could make life now and into the future.
Designer lighting for a modern home design
On the surface, lighting appears to be functional, but it has the power to impact our emotions and circadian rhythms. We’re also spoiled for choice when it comes to types of ‘bulbs’ — from the warm glow of incandescents to efficient LED and smart lights, adjustable track-lighting for showcasing artwork and low-key safety lighting. Suppose you’ve had your eye on a statement light for the staircase void or living space. In that case, we can look at incorporating that alongside practical lighting considerations for maximum effect.
When connected with a smart home system, lighting can be programmed for several shifting states throughout 24 hours. Doing so can save energy and better match the brain’s preference for overhead lighting in the day and campfire-like low lighting at night.
Modern homes also strike the right balance of natural light, such as in the Aria display home; second-floor windows let in sunlight without interfering with resident privacy.
What else could you do with a space in a modern home design?
One of the first things to get cut in homes where space is at a premium is a dedicated laundry room. You won’t find one in the small apartments in Europe and the UK. Appliances and even a large trough could be hidden beneath a staircase or a bathroom counter (with the additional square meterage put towards a spa or double-wide shower, why not?). For double-storey homes, you’d be hard pressed to find an owner that regrets installing a laundry chute from the second floor.
The garage is more than for the car and storage
An enclosed lockable garage not only helps keep your possessions safe, but it can also become a valuable area for DIY projects or even act as a bit of a display room for those with a passion for vehicles. Usually a bit of an afterthought, a well-planned garage can maximise storage and even employ ducted air to make it as comfortable as any other space in the home.
With the move to electric vehicles on the horizon for many Australians, it’s wise to consider that solar battery storage must be installed in a non-habitable room with appropriate fireproofing – making the garage perfect for that inverter, battery and maybe a Tesla Cybetruck.
Polished concrete floors in the garage can also be extended into the home-style — the perfect look whether you prefer scandi, mid-century, modern, industrial, rustic or minimalist style.
Design for the future to save it
The average Australian household generates around 14 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions annually. However, by making a few clever design choices at the planning stage, such as orientation, placement and size of windows, double-glazing, material type and insulation, it’s possible to lessen your impact on the environment. For example, certain roof pitches will gather more sun for a solar PV system. In addition, you may want to consider a space for rainwater storage or greywater storage for reticulating the garden.
Landscaping for environmental benefit in a modern home
Ground and tree cover can reduce the ambient temperature of a built project by 5 degrees or more. If paving is essential for your space, note that lighter coloured brickwork can reduce AC cooling costs (and burnt bare feet) on those blistering WA summer days. Another trend for modern home design gardens is filling them with useful edible plants and choosing beautiful Australian natives that support the local ecosystem and are waterwise.
When considering who you’d prefer to build your new home, be sure you’re covering off the basics with these ten questions you should ask your home builder. For more inspiration and information, be sure to join the Stannard Homes mailing list.