Top design trends in Australian homes & Interiors
Designed by: Natasha Morgan; Photography: Caitlin Mills
I’ve been invited by CGtrader to blog about my opinion around the theme, ‘Designing for the future: Home trends and what we need to consider now’. I believe in the next few years sustainable homes using solar passive design principles will be considered common sense. To design and build a home that utilises & stores our natural resources, and not requiring any further input, effectively a ‘zero lot home’ is the way of the future. It’s not about reducing our needs drastically, so we go back to hand washing. It’s about tracking what we use, being more aware of how we’re using energy; with more intention.
Source: The Design Files Architect: Clare Cousins Photography: Eve Wilson
In regards to the future of interiors, I think in the coming years, there will be a big push for going back to basics, not just minimalism, but also purchasing natural furniture, fabrics & homewares. Moving away from all the mass produced furniture and fabrics that are laced with sprays and chemicals during the manufacturing phase. Reducing the build up of toxins within our homes is important. Especially if you have little ones which have not built up a resistance yet, to these chemicals. It’s also about favouring the artisan over mass produced items. This global shift occurring with moving away from our corporate jobs, to starting our own side businesses; in making products or serving others. This is affecting our buying decisions, we want to support others, hear the story behind their work and know we are actively supporting & taking a part in this massive shift.
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SUSTAINABLE DESIGN & SOLAR PASSIVE PRINCIPLES WILL BE CONSIDERED COMMON SENSE IN BUILDING.
Designing a sustainable home uses solar passive design, thermal mass and landscape design. It all starts with the location, my location is Perth Western Australia, so the Perth homes I design will have a different aspect to homes on the East Coast. West coast living is very connected to the outdoors, where we enjoy probably 10/12 months of the year in beautiful weather. Designing living spaces to the north side of the home is a must, taking into account the window heights and shading elements for Summer time. Northern light allows solar passive heating of the flooring in winter to naturally warm your home, the in Summer shading devices are need to protect the windows from allowing too much heat in.
Designerd by: CM Studio Photography: Caroline McCredie
Thermal mass is the correct use of building materials/ substrates that either slow the transfer of temperature from outside to inside or visa-versa. In Perth’s location, because we have such extremes in temperatures over the seasons (from 0 deg in winter mornings to 40+ degrees in height of summer) the higher density in thermal mass the more we can regulate the internal temperature of our homes.
Alfresco’s & outdoor living rooms are a big focus in our home design and the location needs to considered carefully (preferably not blocking that precious northern sunlight). Also, landscaping can we a great way to naturally cool down our homes, using deciduous trees for shading in summer that allows northern light to come through in winter.
Designed by: Arent & Pyke. Photography: Felix Forest
AUTOMATION + TECHNOLOGY WITHIN THE HOME.
In the coming years, technology will be a big consideration within any new home build. With solar panels and battery storage technology advancing, we will see more homes go off grid. Already there are so many great gadgets from smart lighting, blinds, shutters that turn on via a phone app or programmed to suit the time of day and which direction the sun is. Horiso manufactures a range of internal & external blinds, which are hooked up to their Climate Ready Control System which installed wirelessly or hard wired; responds to sun and wind sensors, switches, timers & remotes that allow the blinds to be programmed for preset stops to the angle of degree or mm.
The big thing with technology is it gives us information about the efficiency of our appliances at our fingertips, such as the Bosch “optiflow” water heater can be monitored from an app on your phone, you can adjust temperature, it tracks energy and water consumption and keeps track of costs for you. This information allows us to take control of our water & energy usage habits.
We are definitely moving towards a new more intelligent home, that knows what we need before we need to think about it. Big Ass Fans have the “Haiku Series” fans made from 5 layers of moso bamboo (a high growth material that can grow several inches per day). In built with the fan is Sense ME technology that can actually sense you entering the room and automatically adjusts the fans settings based on the rooms conditions. The fan can also be remotely used via your smart phone.
Is it possible to have a Smart garden? Yes with GreenIQ “Smart Garden Hub” creates a watering schedule for your garden based on the weather forecast. So when it’s raining outside the Smart Hub knows to turn off the water sprayers. The hub is used via Wifi with an app on your smartphone, it can also control external lighting & automatically waters your plants based on their needs using soil sensors. I believe we will see a growing trend for the smaller size footprint home but embracing smart technology making our homes super-efficient, but it will also be effortless, simple & automatic for us to use.
GOING BACK TO BASICS IN INTERIORS.
With a smaller home footprint, which Perth has embraced over the last 20 years, simply due to land prices being more expensive. It means we need less stuff, but that doesn’t mean it needs to be a cold and bare minimalistic home either. It’s about creating comfort and a sanctuary, creating a home that we enjoy spending time in. Being more home businesses starting up, homes will need to be interchangeable spaces for entertaining, running a business, homework with the kids, relaxing a space were proud to call our home.
I believe there will be a push back to natural and raw materials; such as timbers, stone, linens, organic cotton all with little to no chemical additives. Polyesters, acrylic fabrics, plastics and foams can all be treated with various harmful chemicals.
“synthetic fibers are typically treated with several chemicals, such as flame retardants from the organophosphate family, delustering agents, and dyes, some of which have estrogenic properties and may be carcinogenic.” “A recent Canadian study found that women who work with some common synthetic materials could treble their risk of developing breast cancer after menopause. The data included women working in textile factories which produce acrylic fabrics – those women have seven times the risk of developing breast cancer than the normal population, while those working with nylon fibers had double the risk.” (source here)
Designed by & Photography: Melinda McQueen for Studio McQueen
These materials & chemicals are throughout our homes and there really needs to be more research to find out the impact of these chemicals on & within our bodies and our children’s. Personally, I like to focus on solutions and through education and supporting brands with sustainable values. Slowly more brands are becoming aware of this need to find products that are ecological, non- toxic and sustainable. Here’s a collection of my favourite brands and an interior mood-board for an Australian contemporary Lounge room interior using subtle colourings.
Designed by: Studio McQueen
CHOOSING ECO-FRIENDLY INTERIOR FURNISHINGS.
Within my designs, I always try and focus on furniture that’s made in Australia (anything imported is required to be sprayed with chemicals to ‘treat’ timbers ect) using timber sourced from sustainably managed forests, with feather & down cushioning and checking any foams used are certified by GECA. In a nutshell, I always try and find out how the product is manufactured, this will give me a good indication if it’s a safe, eco-friendly choice. In Australia, and product can state it’s organic – there’s no way to know for sure. If on the other hand, it states the product is ‘certified organic’ this phase is patented through the Australian certified organic organisation, and therefore must go through stringent testing.
All in all, I think the future of design for Australian homes and interiors is at an exciting stage. Acknowledging the value of our homes but also how uplifting you can feel within an authentic and natural sustainable home & interior. Focusing on solar passive principles to create a sustainable foundation along with added technology to develop efficiency and build good habits around our energy and water consumption. If you want to know more about how you can incorporate sustainable design ideas in your next renovation or new home build, download my free ebook “how to renovate sustainably, without a loss of style”or click on the image below.
ON HOW TO DESIGN SUSTAINABLY!