What makes a great house? The answer to this all-important question is one I have come to my own conclusions on, as a result of my years of learning and practicing architecture. You will no doubt have your own opinions based on your priorities, likes and dislikes. We are all different, and have different requirements of what makes a home works best for us.
I thought it would be helpful to share my thoughts for those out there looking to buy a house, or have a new one designed for you. I hope it will broaden your criteria, allowing you to make a more informed choice. A house that doesn’t work for you is an extremely expensive problem to have, one I want to help you avoid.
As I have mentioned in this previous post, architecture affects your life on a daily basis, as we are in and surrounded by buildings everyday. The feel of a space has an impact on your mood: a dark cold room can literally dampen your spirits, whereas a room filled with natural light, beautiful features and furniture, will be one that you will want to spend time in as it will lift your mood.
A good house in my opinion is one that enriches your time spent in it. It combines both functionality and beauty. It is not hard to design a purely practical home without any style or flair. It is also easy to design a beautiful space that completely compromises on practicality. But to design a home that does both is what makes for great house design.
I have come up with my own five ingredients that when brought together, make for a house you can’t wait to come home to.
1) The Floor plan
The layout/positioning of the rooms that make up a house, is always the starting point when having a new house designed or when assessing an existing house to buy. It is the most important aspect for a house to function well. The varying rooms and their association and proximity to the other rooms, dictates much of the way you operate and how you co-exist with the other members of the household. I design all my homes with two zones: The quiet ‘sleeping zone’ where all the bedrooms are clustered, which is separated from the ‘living zone’, that has all the areas that generate noise and are used during the daytime. The ability for a house to separate the quiet areas from those that generate noise, means different schedules can go on in the house without interruption to others.
Houses also need to be practical not just in terms of layout, but also within each room. A beautiful house whose rooms are not the right size or shape to allow you to operate with ease, will affect your lifestyle. Your tasks should not be inhibited by the spaces whereby it compromises how you perform a function. Spaces must be the right size to accommodate your furniture, possessions and whatever activities that you perform within them.
The flow of a space is critical too, which is how you move through the house so you don’t feel like you are in a rabbit warren – claustrophobic and living on top of each other. You should be able to physically move through a house easily, and space should not be wasted on more corridors than needed.
We must start to create floor plans where rooms are designed to preform multiple roles. New houses in Australia are the biggest of any country in the world. This is due to our obsession with a room for every purpose, like a theatre room, playroom, study etc etc. Clever storage, and sections of rooms that can be closed off, can reveal a study nook within a living area or off a corridor.
The floor plan also directly affects your homes ability to perform the next two criteria effectively and as efficiently as possible.