How your home is designed can radically impact how it feels, and how you feel in it. Families grow and change, and a home that is designed well can accommodate years of love and growth, whilst loving you back.
So how do you design a family home that really works — now and always? Here’s seven tips to help you.
Tip 1: Become a sun worshipper
Taking note of how the sun moves across your site and home is the single biggest thing you can do to create a home that works and feels great. Why?
Research shows that our health and wellbeing improves with access to natural daylight on a regular basis. Not only that, using what is available for free (natural sunlight and breezes) to heat and cool our space means lower energy bills long-term. Often we forget about the ongoing costs in running our home when spending on a new build or renovation.
Tip 2: Be a master of your own domain
Part of the beauty of our homes is that we control them. They’re our own private domain.
So use your design to maintain privacy. Think about:
- How does someone arrive at the front door of your home?
- How much of your home is visible when you open your front door?
- Can your neighbours look into your home?
Managing these views in and out of your home with the way it’s designed will enhance that feeling of security and safety within it.
Tip 3: Keep connected
With young and growing families, our busy lives often mean being able to get daily tasks done whilst kids can be supervised or entertained. As kids get older, creating the opportunity for casual connection can help with regular communication. Some of the ways to do this are:
- Great views of the inside and outside from your kitchen.
- Create a study nook near the kitchen to supervise computer use casually.
- Design casual areas where people can congregate easily whilst everyday activities keep happening. A big island bench is a great example.
- Don’t forget (in a bid to get audio privacy between zones of the home), that being able to hear as well as see can be handy.
Tip 4: Useful is beautiful
You may not have all the space in the world, but you can make the space you have do lots of jobs so it’s always functional:
- Simply shaped rooms will mean they’re easy to furnish.
- Draw furniture on your design plans to be sure it fits, and locate doors and windows to accommodate.
- Use the edges and corners of your rooms to create more intimate spaces within larger ones.
- Design your movement through and between rooms so furniture doesn’t get in your way.
Tip 5: Get it right with space and flow
It is easy to get seduced with gorgeous images of magazine-worthy homes. However, what really impacts how you live in your home, is the space and flow of your home.
Bigger is not better when it comes to your home. Design makes the difference. Quality over quantity will change your everyday life every time.
Tip 6: Instantly declutter
Here are a few design tricks you can use:
- Include a butler’s pantry in your kitchen design to hide away those messy activities and appliances.
- If you don’t have room for a butler’s pantry, consider putting some bench space inside a cupboard. Doors can open to reveal it when required, and be shut when a quick tidy up is needed.
- This works for other storage too. Review the regular activities of your lifestyle – particularly leaving and arriving at home. Create storage solutions that help hide this from view. Put power points inside cupboards for charging all those devices out of view.
Tip 7: Sweet dreams for everyone
Remember your kids are little for less time than they’re big! They may need to sleep near your room only for a short time and then you’ll want some separation between their bedroom and yours.
A good size for kids bedrooms is 3.2×3.2m ( their wardrobe) to fit a single bed and desk whilst they’re younger, and a double bed when they’re older (some parents like this option).
And remember … Your forever home may not be forever
A newly built or renovated home is an amazing opportunity to shape it exactly how you want it to be. However, you can also create a home that has general appeal whilst making it uniquely yours. Designing a functional, durable family home that will be loved by many families will help you sell well and quickly, if and when the time comes.
Tastes and trends change over time – even yours – so go for neutrals in the items that are more fixed and permanent, or are very expensive to change. Add your personal touches in your finishes and soft furnishings.
So much of the success in designing a home comes with the order you make your choices in. Prioritise your choices with this framework, and you’ll be creating a home that not only helps you survive, but helps you (and your family) thrive. And isn’t that what we really want from our homes?
— Amelia Lee is an architect, a serial renovator and the founder of , a business helping homeowners create a home that makes their life better; whatever their dreams, location or budget.