Home Design Trends for 2019 in the Illawarra
Upgraded outdoor living
We’ve seen a huge trend in the last few years in upgrading the usual outdoor deck or balcony to create a more sophisticated outdoor entertaining space, often complete with functional kitchen. To achieve this, we recommend increasing the al fresco floor space so it goes beyond you and your guests just being able to squeeze around a table and chairs. Think a minimum of 3.6 metres in width under the roof line.
Consider also how usable the space will be in different weather and seasons. You might like to use retractable blinds, louvred screens or bi-fold windows and doors to take the space from a Summer space to a year-round zone.
We’re also seeing the flooring of outdoor spaces has had more budget dollars allocated for good reasons. Pine decking was the “standard”, but there are far superior products available, from hardwood decking (which is very hard wearing it just requires maintaining) to tiles on suspended concrete balconies and composite products that offer zero maintenance and are ideal for our coastal environment.
One often-forgotten inclusion for outdoor entertaining is ventilation for the BBQ and/or cooktops. A screened opening, window or exhaust above the kitchen area can do the trick.
A new home for the backyard pool
Still outside, and it’s no surprise that the pool is a priority area for many families of all shapes and sizes in our coastal Illawarra region, but the placement of pools has completely changed in recent years.
Gone are the days of a lonely pool in the back of the yard, completely disconnected with the house. These days, the trend is for pools placed right up against and amongst living zones, hugging external corners of the house and becoming a feature of the home rather than the backyard. Contrary to popular belief, a wow-factor pool of any shape up against the home doesn’t need to present any additional complications or expense.
Volume is the new square-meterage
We’ve seen the ‘tiny houses’ tv shows too but in reality, the trend for bigger houses continues. However, size doesn’t just mean more square metres!
Creating volume is the name of the game in 2019, and this is being achieved with high ceilings (at least 2.7m/9ft), half walls and towering voids allowing for as much natural light as possible. Volume is the new size metric.
Bedrooms, however, can be made intimate and cosy by doing the opposite – bringing the ceiling height closer to the ‘usual’ range.
One interesting way we’ve been incorporating volume into homes recently is by designing internal bridges between voids. This is a wonderfully creative and interesting way to link different zones, and you can play with the privacy level using glass or solid balustrades.
Kitchens continue to be vast and designed as much to be features of the home as they are functional.
Expansive pantries remain a highly desirable feature in homes but we’re seeing a slight trend (50/50 – age old debate – how much room you have & your way of living – totally subjective and both work) towards the standard walk-in pantry rather than the butler’s pantry with sink, dishwasher and even cooktops and ovens.
The large island benches (3+ metres long and 1+ metre wide) are still popular and for good reason – they’re a stunning and practical place for families to enjoy informal time together for meals, homework and more. One feature we’re seeing requested more often is the addition of an asymmetrical feature of an open end of the island bench, so one end has storage underneath the bench top and the other end is open underneath. This helps the give an open feeling to the space and creates visual interest.
Future Proofing: A home for now and the future
Home owners are smarter than ever, with many opting to future-proof their houses with the view to create a truly ‘forever home’.
We’re building in-home lifts more than ever, and the great thing is that you don’t even need to install the lift right now, instead you can opt to build the provision for it to be added later when needed. We recently built a home which included all the space needed for the future lift, with the lower floor space ‘converted’ to a pantry, and the upper floor space used for storage. Clever ideas for now and the future.
There are other parts of the home that can, with a little thought, be future-proofed. A roomy bathroom layout that can accommodate a walking frame or wheel chair is not difficult to design, and configuring a layout including a bedroom and ensuite on ground level creates a flexible space for guests or permanent living if needed in the future.
We’re also seeing more homes designed to house a parent/grandparent, either in a detached ‘granny flat’ or in a space incorporated into the main home itself. We love the challenge this brief presents and expect to see more and more of these dual-living homes pop up.
High tech but not out of reach
Home automation is becoming more and more common as the technology becomes increasingly mainstream, user-friendly and affordable. We’re regularly building homes with, at minimum, a capability to run automated systems in the future, with all electrical points and switches connected.
Solar power is another piece of technology becoming more prevalent and these days most clients opt for at least the provision for solar in every home.
A focus on the details
If there’s anything we love, it’s attention to detail. So we’re relishing the trend toward refining the details of homes.
- You know that annoying little ‘step’ from the hallway or living area floors to the bathroom areas? Gone (in our houses, anyway!). Our floors are seamless and flush.
- No more squeezing in and out of the car in the garage (and forget about hustling the kids and all their paraphernalia in!). Garages are now bigger (and better!). 6 x 6m is an absolute minimum in any house we design these days, and most of our garages are extended (sometimes extensively) for extra space plus storage.
- Don’t forget the feature front door, our houses are being designed frequently with a minimum 1.2m wide front door.
- Study nooks are still being incorporated into designs but not just in any random corner that needs to be used. Study nooks need to be highly practical and flexible spaces, not just an afterthought of pulling a stool up to what is essentially a bookcase.