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Design and layout

With the incredible selection of styles and designs available today, it can be a challenge to narrow your choice down to a single home. As you visit display homes and look over builders’ plans, take time to consider how various designs would work for you and your family.

  • Space. Today’s design trends lean towards well-designed smaller homes, with little ‘wasted’ space and all the details and amenities you could want. Before you start wondering about square metreage in the particular home, consider the actual space available and if it is adequate to your needs. Often space is a matter of perception. High ceilings and large window areas can create a feeling of spaciousness without adding the cost of extra floor area. Also, builders might be able to move interior, non-load-bearing walls or columns in a particular home in order to give you the additional space you need in a particular area.
  • Function. Think about how you like to live and about your daily routines. Where will the children play, study and watch TV while you are preparing meals? Do you require private spaces for work or relaxing, away from everyone else? Where will overnight guests stay? And so on. What if you love a particular home but the bathroom simply won’t work for you? What if your family grows – is the layout flexible enough to allow for future changes or modifications? Discuss your needs with your builder who can direct you to the homes that would be most suited to your lifestyle. Many designs are available in different facades and layouts. Also, new home builders are often able to customise plans and can advise you on cost and construction implications if you need to make changes.
  • Movement patterns. Movement in, out and inside your home is an important aspect of design. Consider how easy is it to get shopping bags from the car to the kitchen? Or let the dog into the backyard? Can kids take off their shoes without trekking mud into the house? Do some areas serve as ‘corridors’ to other areas, thereby limiting privacy and furniture placement? Can everyone get around the house safely and easily?
  • Open plan spaces. One of the enduring and popular design trends in new homes is the move away from formal and separate rooms on the ground floor. Dining, kitchen and living areas are often integrated into a single ‘great room’ – from the front entrance you can often enjoy a wide open view to the rear of the home. Open plan brings its own challenges. For instance, where to hang pictures, how to add visual interest and how to delineate different living and working areas without closing up the space. It can also have an impact on the energy efficiency of the home, making larger areas that can’t be closed off to make that ‘cosy’ space more difficult to heat and cool. There are lots of possibilities. Bulkheads and other ceiling treatments can provide visual interest and delineate spaces. A mixture of lighting (ambient, task and accent) will create distinct atmospheres within a great room. Flooring can have a big impact – using a single material throughout the entire area, for instance, offers a different feeling than ‘mix and match’ flooring. Columns, partial walls or glass-block walls can help to define private areas without taking away from the overall sense of open space.
  • Light. Natural light is important to the overall appeal of your home and contributes to your feeling of wellbeing. New homes are light and bright by design, but you may want to consider enlarging the window area in your home to let even more light in, or increasing the size of exterior glass doors. There is a great selection of attractive, energy-efficient windows and doors available, and your builder can advise you on the best possible choices for a particular model and location.
  • Storage. Without adequate storage, a home can become cluttered and harder to keep tidy. Look for cupboards located near the entrance door, and in every room as needed. Check that the home has enough space for linen, sports equipment, and so on. There is a wealth of storage solutions, from prefabricated units to built-in customised systems. Ask your new home builder for advice.

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