1. Utilise Natural Light
The quality of light entering a room can transform a space so the main rooms should be given priority in terms of location in relation to natural light. Where possible, light should enter from more than one direction and where windows aren’t enough, consider installing roof lights. If privacy is an issue, it’s better to have the window and use obscured glazing than to leave the window out.
High-level interior windows or interior glazed partitions can be used to allow light into windowless rooms. Priority should always be given to the living room, kitchen, main bedrooms, dining room, study/office, over less major rooms like bathrooms, dressing room, gym, playroom, cloak room etc
2. Define Public and Private Space
Hallways, living rooms, kitchens and dining rooms are considered public space, where visitors are openly invited to and should feel comfortable and at home without feeling like they are invading the privacy of the occupants. Bedrooms, bathrooms, shower rooms, and dressing rooms are considered private space, where the occupants of the home make it clear that guests should not stray without invite. These definitions are obvious but it’s important to consider them when deciding on the layout.
Guests should not have to cross through private space of the occupants to get to a bathroom, the family bathroom should not be accessible through a bedroom and a bathroom should not be located directly off a living room or kitchen, unless entirely unavoidable. Although having a bathtub in a master bedroom might be an acceptable combination of private spaces, this would not work in a guest bedroom and the toilet should most certainly always remain separate!
3. Avoid Bad Pastiche
When renovating or extending a period property, it’s important to keep in mind the age of the building and to remain true in some respects to the original architecture. However, that’s not to say that when building an extension, one should always make it mimic the original – sometimes a ‘copy’ of the original looks fake and in bad taste, especially if some details are built incorrectly.
If you want to stick to the original style of the building, make sure you carefully study the period features, keep the size of the new build relative to the original (don’t overpower the original architecture) and make sure you use the same materials, not cheap, modern imitations.
Another, more modern build route is to design something entirely separate from the original, such a glass cube extension. Whatever the style of the new addition, it should be quite simple so as not to look offensive or overpowering adjacent to the original.
4. Add ‘Wow’ factor
A great house should always have a few features that let it stand out from the rest. With a large budget, adding wow factor is easy because anything is possible, such as frameless glass structures, cantilevering architecture, double-height spaces, elegant staircases and so on. However, on a modest budget, it takes more creativity to come up with a few clever design features that make a house special.
Some ideas could be floor to ceiling glazing, a statement staircase, vaulted ceiling or architectural lighting. Each of these could be done on any sized budget with a bit of planning and a creative choice of materials. For example, even a simple staircase with a unique choice of cladding material can become a feature that makes your house truly memorable.
5. Make It personal to the Client
The most important factor in any home is that it feels like home to the occupant. Whatever style of property or taste in interior decor you are working with, add something that makes it home – for example, objects from clients’ travels or family portraits. it would be helpful to decide these items early on with the client, so that you can help to place them in the best location, they could even influence the design!