Following on from the introduction and step one last week, here are the other key ingredients of my recipe for great house design.
2) Natural light.
Sunlight and good weather has a positive effect on our mental state. A lazy Sunday morning breakfast with the newspaper is always so much better with the sun shining in. Our bodies respond to natural light too: sunlight keeps us alert so we can function effectively during the day, and when the sun goes down our bodies slow down in response preparing us for sleep. The design of your house to capture sunlight into its spaces is therefore critical to your mood and productivity.
We spend most of our daytime in our living areas. A well-designed house is one that prioritises natural light into these areas. To do so they must face north, the only side which gets direct sunlight all day. If facing north and with the right design elements also in place, a house is able to block out the hot summer sun, and in winter on days where the clouds clear, allows the sun to enter providing free heating. This is known as ‘Passive Solar Design’, which is explained in more detail here in this previous blog post.
Given the positive effects of sun filled spaces in a home, it should come as no surprise that figures from the Real Estate Institute of Victoria, show that houses with more natural light sell for more. No doubt due (perhaps subconsciously) to the appeal felt by potential buyers as explained above, when inspecting the house.
3) Energy efficiency
This should be a must for all new homes. Buildings produce more carbon and use more energy than any industry. They are large machines of sorts, which we operate on a daily basis. They therefore are our most significant opportunity to do our part in reducing our impact on the environment.
Energy efficiency starts with the floor plan. Without this set up correctly, the opportunity for natural ventilation or free cooling, and allowing in the winter sun for free heating, is lost.
Free cooling is achieved by a design principle called ‘Cross Ventilation’, which is explained in this previous blog post.
The next main step is to insulate the house well. This turns your house into an esky/thermos whereby the walls and windows trap in the heating in winter, and stop the hot air entering in summer.
Lastly, the size of your house is a major factor in energy usage. The bigger the house the more energy and money it takes to build and once finished run. It means more lights, more heating and cooling required etc. The more efficient your house is in terms of its physical size, the more efficient it is to run.
The way a space you occupy looks and feels has a huge impact on how you feel being in that space. Textures, colours, features and composition all contribute to a design that can make you want to stay and enjoy it, or admire and wish it were yours. A beautiful space can enrich your time in it. It’s why we like/wish to stay in flashy hotels when on holidays, or eat in groovy cafes etc, great design enriches your time spent in it. To come home to such a space every night is something we all would like.
The flip side is if a design is done poorly or overdone, it will have the exact opposite impact on you, leaving you feeling uncomfortable or having a negative impact on your mood. This is where an architect is so valuable. New homes cost a lot of money to build or renovate, and you will no doubt intend to spend many years in your home. Getting a professional whose style you like, ensures your new home is the realisation of your dream not an expensive bland or ugly nightmare.
See my previous blog on how to avoid your home going out of date.
Views out from corridors and rooms are critical, as what you look out onto has an impact on the space inside. A view out to a plain fence adds nothing to a space, but if instead a small feature garden with bamboo placed amongst pebbles and rocks were there instead, this draws your view out and creates a great feel to even the simplest of rooms.
We all love nature, be it water, the bush etc. The idea is to create your own miniature version of it, so that your views out or your time spent in your yard is one where the relaxing effect of nature is brought into your home.
We spend a lot of time at home, make sure your investment is maximised by realising the importance of great design, and you will gain so much from it.