Renovating a home with three growing boys and a husband that is away from home for work brings certain requirements.
Entertaining in a relaxed and comfortable way becomes imperative. As does ensuring that is easy to supervise the boys, and still get things done. And it requires opportunity for retreat – to have spaces as adults in the home which allow some escape, peace and quiet, and opportunity to relax.
UPDATE: Due to her mission to educate ALL homeowners to get it right in their own projects, Amelia no longer provides 1:1 design services. The best way to access Amelia’s expertise, experience, support and guidance (plus get her answers to your regular questions), is via her flagship program: HOME Method. Learn more here.
In this Spotlight, Amelia worked with these homeowners to improve the renovation design they’d had done, and create an alternative that maximised the potential of this home.
The homeowners and their land
With a growing family of three boisterous boys, family life at home is busy. Both working parents, they run a family business from home, and hubby is sometimes away for work for extended periods of time.
And with three active boys, there’s a desire to ensure they can play happily inside and outside together, and also escape from each other when they need their own space.
And Cathy will definitely need space from the four men in her home at certain points!
The existing home sits on a large block of land on the south-coast of NSW, south of Wollongong. It has lovely views to the east and a lot of space around the home itself.
They’ve already installed a pool on the north-eastern corner of the home (this doesn’t show in the aerial photograph). And they never use the existing front entry to the home and would prefer to create an entry on the side, where car accommodation is located on the lower floor.
They have an approved Development Application for the proposed plans shown below, but aren’t convinced it’s the best approach.
This renovation is about creating thei forever home. One that will become the place their children always think of as home, and love returning to. And one where everybody feels they have a place, and they can share with friends and family in a relaxed, comfortable and enjoyable way. And that feels sleek, organised and inviting.
This is the aerial view of the home on its block. North is straight up the page.
This is the view to the east from the home. The pool has already been installed.
The proposed upper floor plan shows some reconfiguration proposed to provide 5 bedrooms and an office to the front of the home. The stairs arrive in between a kitchen / dining area, and a long lounge/family area, arranged in an L-shape and all flowing out to a deck around the pool area.
They would like to create a house that:
- is their forever family home
- enables them to be together, and retreat when necessary
- opens up the existing home and makes it more modern
- keeps the existing office as it was only recently installed
- avoids major structural changes
- locates the master suite away from the kids’ bedrooms
- creates a great indoor / outdoor feeling that makes the most of the views
- feels relaxed and happy, that is inviting and comfortable
Their wants for the house are:
- 5 beds plus office
- 5th bedroom to be a guest bed
- great storage that means everything can be in its place
- great space for relaxed and casual entertaining
- study nook for kids
- master with ensuite and robe – and ensuite to be a really enjoyable space
- space for big fridge and large kitchen
They have a budget of $300,000 with a bit of flexibility, and access to family and friends who are in the industry and can assist.
Main Observations about the Proposed Design
The internal dining room gets one of the best spots in the home
Interior dining areas are generally used for homework, evening dining when you don’t want to be outside, and cooler months of the year. When a home has a great outdoor dining area (especially in association with a pool and great garden) … especially with active kids at home … that will be used it more than the indoor dining area.
And, with a gorgeous view out to the east, lovely morning light, that eastern end of the home would be better suited as a living or kitchen space. These are areas they’ll be in a lot, especially in the morning and during the day, and will greatly benefit from having a lovely outlook and great quality of natural light.
The arrival into the home could be improved
Creating clear lines of circulation will help give a sense of spaciousness and luxury – so movement into and through the home doesn’t feel weaving around things.
At the moment of arrival upstairs, the current plan presents a large solid wall, denying that fantastic outlook through the home. It would be great instead to arrive with the view at a focal point, or through the home to the views beyond it.
Consideration also needs to be given to the amount of light that can fill the stair and void, so that the downstairs entry is well lit by natural light, and doesn’t feel like arrival happens in the basement of the home.
The living / family area requires thought
To be honest, with 3 growing boys, and 2 adults, (and a specific request for space to retreat to), I would recommend living areas that can be separated from each other. This will help with managing the acoustics between the areas, and the level of tidiness of at least one (!) so there’s an ‘adult’ room to have friends and guests in.
The planning of the large, open plan living / family room in the existing part of the house, will be tricky to furnish effectively to create two, separate areas.
The laundry has one of the best spots in the house
The north-east corner of any home is a fantastic one for natural light year-round, when heat load from the sun is managed with shade from eaves, etc. Currently, the laundry is occupying this location.
This may have been from a desire to keep the laundry roughly in the same location as its existing one, however it’s missing opportunities in terms of creating views from the home to outside, the pool area, and also helping the home feel great with natural light and breezes.
Guests will travel through most of the home to get to the toilet – either in the laundry, or via the hallway (and past the boys’ bedrooms) to the family bathroom
It would be great to locate a separate toilet (rather than putting it inside the laundry) where it can be easily reached across a hard (water-resistant) floor for access from outside, as well as be used by guests.
Some Main Design Aims
When I started preparing the design concept, I had these aims …
- To disrupt the existing house as little as possible. My aim was to remove components, and insert new components – rather than reconfiguring walls and spaces.
- To extend the house in a way that made the most of the easterly views, and arranged spaces at that end of the home where the family could sit and relax to enjoy them.
- To create a design that really supported busy family life … especially at both ends of the day. That hustle of arriving home and putting all the school bags and other gear away … the departure in the morning and getting out the door quickly.
- To ensure the interior living spaces could be separately used, but remain connected visually and via their relationship the outdoor deck area and pool.
- To provide a spacious feeling entry that, at the same time, didn’t take up a lot of floor space, and made arrival into the upper floor of the home feel generous.
The alternative design options
I prepared three alternatives, with Options B1 and B2 creating a wider and shorter extension to the existing home. This aligned the wall of the extension with the existing house, which then offered opportunities to simplify how the existing roof could be extended over the new building area.
Option A Upper Floor Plan keeps the existing building envelope (so external walls have stayed as per current proposal, but windows and doors have changed). The kitchen is pushed to the southern wall, with a walk-in-pantry located at the western end. The living room sits on the eastern end with access to the view and deck. A pod of bathroom and study is inserted into the middle of the floor plan (with skylights over), so the second living space can be located on the north-east corner. An ensuite to the master is located in the existing entry. The new entry occurs in a void on the southern side of the home.
I provide a semi-transparent overlay so you can compare the two floor plans. The alternative design has not increased the size of the home at all. Here you can see that many diagonal walls are removed or straightened up.
Option A Lower Floor Plan arranges the entry to maintain some structural support under the existing roof corner. Storage is provided downstairs, and entries into garages are arranged neatly (away from the front door).
Option B1 Upper Floor Plan reduces the overall length of the extension, and widens it to match the existing southern wall of the home. This enables the existing eave to run through continuously, and create a neater roofline on the side you’ll approach the home. In this design, the kitchen is located on the east, with windows over the bench to open up to the view. Living areas are separate but both connected to the deck, and study / seating area is positioned on the north-east corner.
This semi-transparent overlay shows the change to the overall size of the extension. Similar area, arranged differently.
Option B2 Upper Floor Plan changes the B1 version by moving the stairs to the eastern side of the entry. This enables Bed 5 (the guest bedroom) to be larger than Options A and B1.
The clients quickly decided they preferred Option B and took it back to their designer to progress with planning drawings. From Cathy:
Thank you!! For the record, I was 1000% happier with your Option A than what we had here, (thank you!) and was happy to go with that simply for the less changes with council etc. However hubby is leaning towards the b plan with the kitchen on the eastern wall.
They’ve had to put the project on hold for a little while, so we’ll stay posted with developments!
Due to my commitment to educating homeowners to get it right in their own projects, I no longer provide 1:1 design services. Instead, you can access my expert guidance and support inside my flagship program, HOME Method. Learn what’s included here.