Designing a custom home means building to suit your own personality and lifestyle.
Do you want a functional space for living and working, or do you like to entertain at home? Would you devote more space to making you feel comfortable day-to-day – quiet spaces, functional laundry, a study – or prefer grand, impressive features to create a truly luxurious ‘holiday at home’ feel?
Perhaps you have children and want a separate area just for them, or perhaps you don’t, and don’t plan to.
Whichever you choose, there are some considerations to design your ideal custom home to be built to your lifestyle.
For centuries hidden away, kitchens are now central to the design of a modern house. Kitchens are the hub of social time in Australian families and entertaining, and it is up to you to decide your own personal preference, and place and design the kitchen accordingly.
Do you host dinners? Then you might want to make a functional kitchen separate from a large dining room, or even an outdoor eating area. More casual or family-oriented? Then a kitchen-come-dining area in the middle of the house might suit you. Prefer fun social events with people free to move around? Then perhaps a generous island bench that can accommodate bar stools.
Each decision will have your kitchen take up varying amounts of space in relation to other features of your home, so knowing your priorities is important.
The living space
What do you like to do in your spare time? You could set up your living room as a home theatre, replete with big screen and surround sound, all couches facing the same way and an elevated platform for that cinematic feel.
Or you could make a more interpersonal space – seats facing towards each other and glass French doors that opens to an outdoor area.
Would you like this space to be joined to the kitchen, or separate? Would you prefer two living spaces, one being more formal and the other a communal family space? Think about what you currently like to do, your sense of privacy verses community, and allocate space to this.
Obviously, the more people you intend having in a home, the more bathrooms you’ll need. Perhaps two members of a couple find that they spend minimal time on their morning routine, in which case building a small, no-fuss bathroom will suffice, perhaps with a separate powder room elsewhere in the house.
If, however, a lush bath or long shower, and good use of ample storage solutions are high on your list of must-haves, then for the sake of marital bliss, consider designing for a well-appointed ensuite as well as a regular bathroom.
Entertainers may like to consider a guest bathroom complete with guest towel display or, to solve two problems at once, incorporate into that second bathroom a storage solution that allows you to hide away all your personal bathroom items.
Parents, of course, face all manner of unique requirements when it comes to their kids. Even a single ‘kids’ bathroom’ may not be enough when it comes to teenagers.
Each shape of living space can lend itself towards one of a number of design styles.
A Minimalist design might draw as many of the walls, benches and furniture away from the large central space as possible to leave an area completely open. The comfort of that large sofa is sacrificed for the beauty of the space, which is even more enhanced when the living area is facing North on a Northern slope.
Bohemian style may feature spaces for art and intriguing features, and may have you considering different rooms for different styles. One more relaxing with cool colours, one more active with artistic features and warm colours and things to do. A bookshelf may show off your library and frame a warm and inviting gas or wood fireplace.
A more liveable style might have comfortable couches, a television that can be seen from the kitchen, compartmentalized spaces so the kids have their own play area, or so that you can listen to an album in one room while your partner reads a book in another.
A North-facing house on a Northerly-facing slope will catch more light throughout the day even in the Winter, and also more warmth. In Melbourne, warmth and the weather is an important factor.
A West-facing balcony or patio, though, will catch those last rays of sunshine, which would be great if you like entertaining outdoors.
Beware, though, that in Melbourne and the peninsula, the prevailing wind comes from the West. A good quality custom-design builder will be able to best advise on the materials to use, and will design your home to make the most of its orientation.
Perhaps you prefer more of your own time, a bit more private, a bit more sheltered. Perhaps you love gardening and would like your windows to face your own lush backyard. In which case, design your home to prioritize your privacy utilising the natural surrounds of your land where possible.
Your lifestyle will affect your storage needs. If you plan to work at home, you may need to store files, clothes, food, or machinery, depending on your business, and to build storage spaces accessible to where you need to use them.
If you have children, perhaps consider a rumpus room, or teenage retreat if they are a little older, so there is a defined space for them and their belongings. This will ensure parents will still have their own space to relax of a nighttime, and children can learn to be responsible for their own zone.
If you collect something – books, art, shoes, memorabilia – then designing a space dedicated to holding and even displaying these collectables turns a storage problem into a style solution.
Your custom home is designed to facilitate and enhance your lifestyle, so it would be a good start – as well as working out budget – to have a thorough, in-depth look at what is most important to you, and work your design around that.