Sure, we’ve all done it, marveling at beautifully designed houses that ooze effortless style and dreaming of building our own ideal home. Firstly, I encourage anyone to build their own home, its fun, exciting and will probably be the single most important piece of design in your life for many years. You can build a house that fits exactly into your current lifestyle, your aesthetics, your future plans and ambitions in the location that suits you best. But if you have ever watched Grand Designs, you will also know that self-building can be stressful and impact on every part of your life. You will need to make so many decisions that could potentially affect the final outcome dramatically, so read on as I discuss some of the keys to getting the decisions right.
Once you have your location sorted and have the finance to start the design process with an architect, consider maximising the amount of natural light of your building. If you’ve looked at any modern homes, you’ll notice a common theme running through – natural light streaming in. It gives the home atmosphere as the light changes throughout the day, makes the house feel cleaner, fresher and of course helps you to conserve energy. Studies have also found that humans react positively to increased natural light, it boosts alertness and just makes people feel good! There are many ways to make natural light a feature of your home – consider the solar orientation (in Australia houses should be facing north), use light colours for interior walls, incorporate large glass bifold doors to open up spaces (most of these now come with pleated insect screen to keep the bugs out).
Modern residential architecture is for the most part dominated by open plan living where dining, living and kitchen all merge into one. But how best to achieve this with a modest budget? The key is to have less rooms, but make them larger. Ask yourself if you really need a media room or formal lounge and consider increasing the main living/dining area of the home as this is really the hub of any home and the area that gets the most use. Large open spaces can then be divided into smaller sections if required by using interior glass sliding doors that can be closed to create more intimate spaces that can be individually heated or cooled if desired. There is now a huge variety of sliding and folding door hardware to suit any look.
Consider raising the height of your ceiling and incorporating full height windows. Making the ceiling 200mm – 300mm taller will give all rooms a much roomier feel while not increasing the floor size. In fact higher ceilings virtually trick the brain into seeing a bigger space, by giving lots of additional uncluttered space to a room. If these higher ceilings are combined with some quality sliding door hardware that can be customised to suit your ceiling height, you’re onto a winner!
Another thing to keep in mind is to leave budget for choosing quality fittings. A key pitfall a lot of first time home builders make is to spend their entire budget on the exterior of a house and have to make do with whatever they can afford for fittings such as taps, door hardware, lights and furniture. Quality fittings make a big difference to the overall impression of a house and will outlast cheap ones by a huge margin. Choose the best you can afford and make sure to remember the details such as sliding doors having stainless steel bearings on bottom rolling door hardware, handles being strong and sturdy and furniture that has timeless style rather than being very “on trend”.
But most of all, have fun! Enjoy the journey of building your very own home. You’ll forget the stress pretty quickly once you have been in your new home for a few weeks.