Here is a review of Ausbuild’s Ellison 31 home, what site orientation it suits, and how it could be improved overall.
Before I start … why review floor plans?
The reason for these reviews is to help you learn how to ‘read’ the design of floor plans. Start to know what to look for, when a space will feel good because of the way it’s sized, or arranged, or can be furnished, what it’s connected to, and how you move into, through and out of it.
So, even if it’s not this particular house you’ve seen or want to build, you can relate my feedback here to other designs you are considering for your home.
And, if it is this house that you want to make YOUR home – then check out my recommendations for most suitable orientation, and simple modifications to improve the functionality and quality of the living environment.
I am only reviewing the design of the floor plan and providing my professional opinion on the quality of living environment of the spaces as they are arranged, and the orientation it is best suited for to be a well-designed outcome.
This review does not assess the quality of the builder, the specifications, or anything else except the design of the floor plan. It also doesn’t make aesthetic judgements on the exterior appearance.
I haven’t walked through these houses. I deliberately don’t. My gift as an architect is that I can look at these floor plans and walk through these spaces in my imagination, seeing all the great and not-so-great things about their quality. When these houses as built as a display, the furnishings and fittings can seduce and distract from the actual bones of the design. When I look at the drawings, I see only the bones.
Please note, my suggested simple modifications have not been reviewed for budgetary impact. The modifications work within the existing building envelope unless noted otherwise.
I’m not and won’t take payment for these reviews. That’s how you can always know this is my fair and honest professional opinion on their design.
Pay attention to where your neighbours are, or will be. My reviews assume that your neighbours’ homes are similarly sized to the one you are building – which may not be the case. Think about how the shadow their home casts on your site will impact when you get sun in and around your home.
And finally, to the companies who build these homes …
I am not telling your customers not to build your product, so please don’t get your knickers in a knot about my reviews. I’m simply advising the way to get the most from your designs.
A well-designed home is a great place to live, and happy home owners make happy brand ambassadors. Happy brand ambassadors will sell your product for you.
So why not give them the best experience possible, serve them well, and provide them with well-designed homes they can love to live in. Ultimately, that’s what everyone wants – to love where they live and live a life they love!
ELLISON 31 BY AUSBUILD
| 4BED | 2BTH | 2CAR | 287.5m2 | 10.8m W x 18.6m L |
What the builder says:
“With four bedrooms, two bathrooms and a huge entertaining and kitchen area, the Ellison has an abundance of space, and offers plenty of spaces where families can come together, or retreat for some peace and quiet. An open, contemporary kitchen flows onto a meals area, and then out onto the covered alfresco entertaining area – where you can happily entertain all year round.
Downstairs, there’s also a theatre – where the whole family can enjoy their favourite movies, TV and games, and upstairs, a spacious leisure area – which is ideal for teenage children.”
From Ausbuild’s website (click here to open a new window and go to Ellison 31 on their site)
This is a compact 4B, 2B, 2C house which is designed for a small block of land. It contains an upstairs and downstairs living area, as well as the ‘theatre’ (which is shown without doors).
What I think works well …
- Downstairs the planning has some clarity and order – no angled walls, and clear lines of circulation and movement through the spaces.
- Relationship of kitchen/living/dining and outdoor area works well for integrated indoor/outdoor living and surveillance of rear garden
- Walk in pantry is useful
- Fridge is contained in its own walled recessed and well located for easy access from living room and outdoors. (Standard joinery for kitchens is 600mm deep, and fridge recesses are 800mm deep, as most fridges are around 700-750mm deep. When fridges are housed within kitchen joinery built as standard, they sit proud of it, which is not a clean appearance. Otherwise, kitchen joinery needs to be packed off wall by 200mm, which is an added expense. Keeping the fridge in its own recess separate to kitchen joinery is a simple workaround for this).
- Powder room entry is screened from main living areas, and toilet hidden even when door is open.
- Location of ‘theatre’ on lower floor is good for providing natural surveillance of the street (which improves security generally).
- Master is well-sized in depth. Its location on the street frontage also enables good natural surveillance of the street.
- Good entry into ensuite – always great to walk in and see the vanity – it’s where you’ll spend the most money in there, will have a mirror above it, which will enable the room to feel larger. We call that arrival the ‘money shot’ – think about the sales photos you see of bathrooms!
- Beds 3 and 4 are well-sized
- Open area at top of stairs creates expansive, open feel when moving through home which is great in a compact floor plan, and will also improve natural light and air movement through the house.
- Beds 2 and 4 are well arranged to look out the rear of the house – where they will be the furthest away from a neighbour and be able to gain visual privacy.
What I think doesn’t work so well …
- There isn’t really any storage in the garage for family paraphanalia – bikes, skateboards, camping gear etc.
- Storage downstairs is very minimal – broom cupboard is tiny
- As you arrive, there’s nowhere out of the way for you to put your stuff – you will walk into the kitchen and put it there, or upstairs to your room. It’s functional (and useful in facilitating organisation) to have a dedicated homecoming dumping ground – for mail, schoolbags, handbags etc that isn’t a kitchen bench or general area floorspace.
- The kitchen is small for a family kitchen. Once toasters, kettles etc go on benchtops, look at where the meal prep will occur. I would recommend 600mm extra length (which can’t be accommodated in this current plan)
- In my experience, locating internal dining areas directly adjacent to external dining areas confuses the use of both. Functionally and visually it works better for a living area to be adjacent to the outdoor dining area, and the indoor dining area more ‘internal’. Think about when you use your internal dining area – and if you’ll be satisfied with how these spaces will each be furnished and that they’ll be sufficiently delineated. That way it won’t just look like you have 2 tables sitting side by side with one outside and one inside.
- Beds 2, 3 and 4 are fairly varying in size.
- Bed 2 width is 2900mm. I recommend a minimum dimension of 3000mm/3m (plus robe) in any bedroom that will be used regularly.
- Robe in this Bed 2 is small.
- The leisure area is useful, but functionally will be compromised by circulating through it to access Bed 2, and this bedroom won’t have much acoustic or visual privacy as a result. You’ll be looking straight into it when sitting on the sofa. They’ve been a bit cheeky here too, measuring the width of that room to the stairs – which is more hallway than part of that room.
- It is preferable (ie feels better, looks better, affords visual privacy to the room, extends the size of the room) if you walk in on the foot of the bed. What I mean by this is that you see the end of the bed as you walk through the door – either straight on or side on. By contrast, walking in on the head of the bed is disruptive to the calmness of the room, and the privacy it has as a bedroom, as well as making the room feel smaller, because you already have a piece of furniture you have to get around (as opposed to just walking past). In Bed 4 and Bed 3 you walk in on the foot, but in Bed 2 you walk in on the head – from a public area. Double strike.
- Upstairs bathroom – shower is small. I recommend 900 x 1100mm for a shower.
- Entry to master bed is directly off open public area of leisure room. There’s also a fair bit of ‘openness’ without function around this area that is inefficient.
- It is much nicer if when you’re lying in bed, you can’t immediately look into a service area (like your robe or ensuite) when you roll your head from side to side – this is about feeling calm and restful. It may seem strange, but it’s true! Clean walls mean a nice artwork, or happy photos, or a view is what you see when lying in bed – instead of a closed door hiding your clothing or toilet. The location of the robe in this master doesn’t enable this.
- Sometimes it’s nice to have a separate toilet if you have 3 kids sharing a bathroom – but this one doesn’t have its own basin, which means they still need to go into the bathroom to wash their hands. It’s too small to accommodate one as it is.
Make these simple modifications to improve overall functionality of the floor plan and support you living your best life. (Unless noted otherwise, these modifications do not increase the external building envelope. They have not been checked with builder for impact on cost of home). Download this pdf file of my amended floor plans here >>>
Other blogs you may find useful …
Should you buy the land or choose the home first? This is my advice.
Can you use that floor plan design you’ve found online? Don’t get into legal trouble over copyright – changing 10% might not be enough. Here’s why.
Not sure if the design you’ve chosen is the best for you and your family? Here’s a spotlight on a couple who got my help to fix the floor plan of their home.
I totally agree with your comments here. As an avid floor plan observer/critic I also pick them to pieces. I would add a few notes to yours. A couple of my pet hates is having a bedhead up against a bathroom/toilet wall. Nobody wants to ever hear those sounds while trying to sleep. Also, the main bedroom, which as you mentioned has a lot of empty wasted space and no private entry, as in very open to all to see would mean that the door would most likely have to remain closed all the time. This is also the only way a couple could use the bedroom as the WIR is on one side of the room and the ensuite is on the other. You have to walk across your whole room to get dressed. With the extra space given to the floor in front of the linen cupboard, I would’ve given it to the width of the WIR so at least both occupants could stand there at the same time choosing their clothes or you could turn around in it. It’s very poky and would be quite dark. Downstairs, the breakfast bar is way too short, only accomodating three people and two of them have to look at the sink.
Great comments – thanks so much for adding your view points as well! It definitely sounds like you have an eye for examining floor plans 🙂
– Amelia, UA