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Perfect design. How to get it right



Getting the design right is the first step to achieving your perfect home. There is so much involved it getting the design of your new home right.
You need to consider:
  • Aspect
  • Views
  • Your lifestyle
  • Flow and ‘workability’
  • Resale value
  • Land levels and falls
  • Energy efficiency
  • Current trends
  • The ‘look and feel’ of the home
  • Budget and cost
Designing the perfect home is complex and involved. Its not a task to be undertaken at home, by amateurs, around the kitchen table. Some of the best ideas come from you – the home owner – but it requires the skill and knowledge of professional architects to put your ‘wish list’ together coherently and with style.
Listed below are the main points that need to be considered.


This is a major consideration, particularly given the harsh Australian climate. Facing the home the right way to make best use of the sun and to protect the home from cold winds will not only achieve a home that is much more cost effective to heat and cool, but will give the house a ‘sunny and warm’ personality. A home that’s a pleasure to spend time in. So often this isn’t taken full advantage of, and beautiful homes are built that are gloomy and dull. To a good architect, aspect is the first consideration.


There is nothing worse than a site that is simply cut out deeply to achieve a building pad. This is so often done, as it is the cheapest way of construction. This creates a home that sits low, has water and moisture issues, and produces a ‘dull’ feeling, one of being low and hemmed in. It often requires expensive retaining walls to counteract such deep cuts. These retaining walls are costly and rarely add any value to the finished home. In most situations, there is a better way. This could be by raising the floor level using deep edged beams, elevating the floor, or even stepping the house design to work with the land falls.


Views are very important and often the reason a block of land is purchased. So, it is important that these are captured in the right rooms with the best window styles and locations. However, this is often easier said than done because the view may be in a direction that doesn’t work best with the aspect. A good architect can always overcome this challenge and come up with a perfect compromise.


This is so important, and with rising gas and electricity costs it will become more so in the future. It needs to be taken very seriously. The first step in producing an energy efficient home is getting the aspect perfect – using the sun, shadows, window positions and heights to full advantage. Next, making sure the service areas of the home (Bathrooms, Laundry, and Garage etc.) are used as a ‘buffer’ from the cold winds and bad weather. Then, make sure you can shut off the areas that you will be living in, so that in extreme heat and cold you can afford to have a perfectly comfortable ‘core area’. Once the design is perfected, you will need to consider the correct choice of products to use for glazing, insulation, window furnishings etc. A good architect will intuitively understand all these considerations, producing a design that feels great, feels open and inviting, but at the same time has maximum efficiency.


Nothing is more important than this in designing your perfect new home. You need to consider room sizes, room relationship, public and private spaces and any other specific requirements. You also have to consider how your lifestyle may change over the life of the home, and make sure that is catered for. For instance, if you had a baby now, it may be desirable to have a baby’s room adjacent to the main bedroom. When your child grows, you may want them separate with their own bath area. Also, you need to consider media and computer requirements, gym equipment, level areas for ageing visitors, etc. as these are current trends and features that will affect future values. All your requirements need to be balanced against what is resalable in the future. For example, the common requirement for resale is a 4 bed, 2 bath and double garage home. Say for instance you only require two bedrooms. You could have a main suite, one other bedroom that is large with a desk area etc., a gym and a study. This could become a unique 4 bedroom house as far as valuation is concerned. You require an architect who can listen to your needs and lifestyle requirements and blend that with all the other key features in design, and produce a house plan that is absolutely ‘you’.


As most home buyers don’t live in the field of new home design, many are unaware of current trends – what’s hot, what’s not and what could affect the houses value in the future. This is forever changing, and we have seen lots of change in recent times. Items like:
  • Main bedroom areas with sitting rooms, his and hers robes and an over-sized ensuite
  • Walk in butlers pantries with sinks and 2nd work areas
  • Open staircases with soaring voids
  • Larger alfresco’s with great flow from the kitchen /casual living areas, often with built in BBQ’s
  • Children’s bedrooms with walk-in robes and built in desks
  • Stronger room definition between casual living areas and informal dining (in the same region, but not in the same room)
  • The demise of the formal lounge and dining room
  • Fixed glass panels in lieu of windows
  • Fixed glass window kitchen splash-backs
  • Children’s activity areas, with defined media and IT sections, adjacent to bedrooms
  • A return to closed off areas as opposed to total open living
  • IT areas
  • Gyms
  • Media rooms
A great architect will be able to assist you in blending your needs, budget constraints and current trends to achieve the perfect home that’s absolutely “you” …right up to minute, cost effective, energy efficient, and complements your lifestyle now and into the future perfectly.


This is a huge part of getting the design ‘right’. Room relationships are not always easy to perfect when you also need to consider aspect, views etc. But ‘flow’ is so often overlooked and is possibly the biggest item that needs to be perfected so that the home is workable and easy to live in. Things to consider include:
  • Kitchen relationship to casual and formal dining
  • Kitchen and casual living areas relationship to the Al fresco
  • Children’s area needs to be self-sufficient (own bathroom, activity’s, IT)
  • Relationship of the laundry to the kitchen. Distance from Laundry to cloths drying area
  • Access and distance from garage to kitchen
  • Quietness of Media area
  • Living areas not being walkways, but ‘walk past’ areas, so that the areas can be fully used and easily furnished
  • IT areas. Some people prefer these in a public space; however they require a quiet atmosphere


We all have our preferences with ‘style’. Where some persons prefer Modern, other prefer Victorian, Traditional, Art Deco or one of any number of styles. It is important that you understand the current trends and what’s available. But once armed with that knowledge, you need to be able to have your new dream home present in the style that appeals to you. This could mean changes to ceiling heights, window styles, roof pitch, textural finishes and the choice of facade. This area of design is incredibly important and must not be attempted by anybody other than a qualified trained designer. This important area is largely about ‘balance’, and it’s far easier to get it wrong than it is to get it right. Do not leave this in the hands of a builder; it must be done by a professional.


We would all love to build our new dream home, and have equity built in from the first day. In many situations that is possible. But to do that you have to design and purchase very carefully. You have to make sure you are not over capitalizing and that you are building a home that is desirable to someone else, not just you. And by going through the correct design process will assure that your home isn’t only a beautiful place for you to live, but is also your primary asset. Put simply, what things would appeal to the broader market place at time of resale? Great aspect, correct building levels, energy efficiency, great flow and ‘liveability’ are not negotiable…regardless of the size or budget. If these items are done correctly, you are halfway there. A great designer, properly instructed, will make sure that your home has wide appeal and is a great investment. Of course, some people want unique homes that are built exclusively to suit their taste and lifestyle. That is fine, but they must understand that come resale time it may not be to other peoples requirements and tastes and be discounted accordingly.


Reality is that most of us have longer wish lists than we do budgets! So, it is important to prioritize what is most important. One way of doing this is to write down a new home design “bucket list” and then write beside it the priority. It is important that you consider the area and block that the home is being built on, and make sure that the home you are choosing is fitting in that area, and will have strong resale. Things to consider in the budget/ cost area are things like room size, ceiling heights, facade and style options. Make sure that the room sizes are correct and usable… neither too small nor too large.
Another completely different way of designing your home is to work backwards from a budget figure. This often produces great results for people who have fixed bank loan limits. A great designer will have an intuitive feel for costs and efficiencies and will be able to assist with ‘tricks’ that could help you achieve the desired results within tight budgetary constraints.


At Bellriver, we are acutely aware of the variety of needs of our clients. We understand that a standard set of plans is not the answer. We understand that you are an individual, with individual needs. So, we have prepared a full design solution where our clients can achieve their perfect new home design, done by some of the best professionals in the architecture industry… without having to pay for a ‘custom’ solution.


We have just introduced a brand new ‘standard’ design range of over 120 designs. Most of these are the work of two of Sydney’s most highly acclaimed new home designers. One specializes in ‘Classic’ design and has penned the private residences of many well-known celebrities. His flair and eye for detail is impeccable. These new designs inherently address perfect room relationships, aspect, energy efficiency, latest trends and facades. They are all available in mirror reverse. We see these as a great starting point for your new home… providing approximately 250 variations. Our other designer is a specialist in modern architecture. He counts Frank Lloyd Wright as having one of the strongest influences over his work. His designs can mostly be found in Sydney’s Northern Beaches area and are distinguished by strong horizontal elements. You can see his influence over our range in the ‘Sanctuary’ collection.
Once you have found a design from the standard range that is close to what you like, our consultants can advise on how it would work on your land – and make any modifications that are required. Then, we can work through the modifications that you desire to personalize your home. If need be, we can have it assessed by either our in-house design and drafting team or get them looked at by the architect who designed the original plan… and critique it until it is the perfect solution for you, your land and your budget. This is a magnificent design solution for new home buyers, as a custom design from these architects would cost in excess of $15000. Our clients have access to their superior designs at no cost.


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