Correct orientation of living spaces is really important, so that the main living area is pleasant in winter and not overheating in summer.
With good design planning it's easy to use the natural elements to heat and cool your home rather than increasing your electricity bill.
Consider window locations for cross ventilation so that breeze pathways come through the home and ventilate each room.
Avoid too many west-facing windows, particularly to the southwest so that the late summer sun doesn't overheat that space. It is possible to design eaves that block the angle of the summer sun but allow the lower angled winter sun inside. Windows to the east and west benefit from vertical shading rather than horizontal due to the lower level of the sun in the sky.
Know your natural habits and plan for them rather than expecting yourself and your family to change behaviours. For example, are there a lot of hair appliances in the bathroom or a volume of make-up containers? Do the kids come home and dump their shoes and school bags in the doorway? Do you come home and throw your keys and phone down on the nearest surface? Do you take the recycling outside less often than you should? Plan it in and build it in.
Measure your volume requirements to design enough square metre of linen cupboard space and have this located where it's practical. If the master wing is away from the other bedrooms, have two linen cupboards.
Incorporating an outdoor living space is an absolute must. It makes your home feel bigger and an outdoor lifestyle is important for health. Don't scrimp on space. Design the proportions to fit a generous table, and space enough for people to sit a relaxed distance from the table with room for people to walk around the perimeter. Also consider space for decorative items like plants and other furnishings, the barbecue, etcetera.
It's best practice to orientate this space to face the north or east. If you have to face it west, make sure you install movable dense vertical shading devices so that when the afternoon sun bears down on you, you can close the space in and block the sun out. You'll need to be mindful of creating ventilation or air circulation in this instance, though.
From a psychological perspective it's a landing space, a breathing moment. It's an opportunity for the intrigue and reveal of the rest of your home. Some great design features that can add interest include wall niches for ornaments or artwork.
A butler's pantry has become expected, but if you're thinking of one consider how much you really need in here. It can be easy to go over the top and blow your budget.
Do you really need a second full kitchen space in a closet room crammed with all the practical things that you're going to use all of the time? A lot of butler's pantries are designed with the microwave, the dishwasher, coffee machine and fridge in there. Remember the kitchen is the social heart of the home, so make sure you're not designing a space where you'll be tucked away from the action.
- by PAULA HARWOOD, of The Design Hub
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