26 Aug 10 Step Guide to Good Home Design
STEP ONE – Basic room dimensions
Our homes are best when they work efficiently and are a reflection of our personalities. Houses basically comprise bricks, cement, fixtures and roofing in varying shapes and sizes and include services such as plumbing, gas and wiring built to a predetermined cost. BUT WHAT MAKES A HOUSE OUR HOME?
Starting from the entrance, our homes should be visually appealing and welcoming. Entrances should be unimpeded physically and visually without encumbrances such as shrubs, trees and weeds thus inviting the visitor to enter the property safely and confidently. At night, entry is safer when paths are illuminated at a low level to guide the visitor through the garden to the house main entrance. The use of garden colour and natural scents from highly perfumed shrubs and trees also enhance entry imparting a sense of wellbeing to visitors. Steps, ponds and over illumination can be confusing to the visually impaired, handicapped, young or aged guests, so keep it simple. Should security be an issue, consider security gates installed at the site boundary or home entrance to include an intercom connection.
Once inside the home, entrances or vestibules are best when they are adequately sized and gently illuminated. It is preferable to walk into a space designed for welcoming guests rather than directly into a living room or passage way. Spaces throughout the home should have a specific purpose with appropriate size for the function. Oversized spaces can be dysfunctional, unnecessary and costly. Often, money is spent on furniture to fill the space rather than use it.
Entrances should accommodate the maximum number of people arriving at any one time. This may be a maximum of six people comprising a family of five and the welcoming host. Therefore, six square metres minimum (one metre per person) would be sufficient. A picture on the wall or a colourful arrangement of flowers will enhance the space visually without spatial impediment. Large wall mirrors can visually and psychologically increase smaller entrances dramatically and inexpensively. Colour and light should be subtle and warm.
Passage ways are best when wide rather than narrow and no less than one metre wide, preferably 1.2 metres wide. If the house is poorly designed creating long, thin, meandering passages, then it may be possible for some adjoining rooms to be opened up onto the passage. This must only be considered with the help of a builder to ensure that the opening and roofing is adequately supported. Should the passage be narrow, wall or spot lighting may be used to visually increase passage width.
Dark halls and passage ways are ideal spaces in which to display precious non-colour fast photographs and paintings. A lighting technician should be considered for the degree of illumination and choice of sources.
Public rooms such as living, family and dining should be sized to accommodate selected furniture such as seating, dining table, sofas, occasional and lamp tables, built-in units and traffic flow as required. Once room sizes have been determined, door and window locations are critical for good ventilation, illumination and room focus. In smaller public rooms, door are best placed near the centre of walls when possible, freeing up wall space for furniture placement and traffic flow.
The ideal space required for a formal or informal conversation seating arrangement to accommodate six people is 3.6m x 3.6m minimum. A dining room with seating for eight and servery requires a minimum of 12.96 square metres (3.6m x 3.6m). The aforementioned spatial calculations apply for outdoor arrangements also. Ensure light is balanced and variable relating to furniture arrangements. There are many types of lighting sources available and care should be taken when selecting for general, local and spot lighting.
Colour works best using the following criteria such as age of occupiers (young or elderly), time of day of use (morning, midday or evening), season of use (summer or winter) orientation of house (north, south, east or west), exterior influences (gardens, landscapes and seascapes) and lastly, personal colour preferences.
Relating accessories to the room function can prompt interest and conversation, appetite and activity. Consider secular themes and florals for living rooms and culinary themes or landscapes for dining rooms. However, it may be that you own a special piece which sits well in a particular space, so go for it!
Dimensions for private rooms can vary greatly depending on the age of the occupier. A nursery is best placed near the main bedroom for convenience but only requires little furniture such as a cot, change table, chair and essential storage. Whereas, the main bedroom must accommodate sleeping, reading, dressing, storage, ensuite and robes for two adults. Therefore, nursery, ensuite and robe spaces need be no larger than eight square metres and main bedrooms no less than sixteen square metres.
Light should be balanced and variable in all areas.
Colour for private rooms may be selected considering room orientation and temperature (hot or cold), age of occupier, degree of natural illumination available and occupiers colour preferences.
Accessories can be an ensemble of the occupiers own collections and preferences whether purchased or hand crafted however, nicely arranged to compliment furniture arrangement.
Published by Judith Molyneux – Accredited Professional Member Design Institute of Australia