The changing face of Aussie home design

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Gone is the era of 'McMansion'-style housing, with Australians now preferring homes that are more compact. We've become more budget conscious, designing homes with multi-purpose rooms to replace the individual-function rooms of the past.

Australians no longer want all the luxuries that came with 'McMansion'-style homes such as home theatres, gyms and rumpus roomsi. Cost-effective and sustainable homes are now in style, with homeowners favouring spaces that are flexible enough to meet a multitude of needsi.

Large glass openings are blurring the boundary between the inside and outside of modern Aussie homes.

Getting back to nature

Australia has one of the best climates in the world, and modern home designers are starting to take this into consideration. Large glass openings are used to make a seamless transition from inside to outside, with terraces and decks acting as an extension of the interior roomsi,ii. Australians are also embracing sustainable design aspects to ensure their house is liveable and functional. A passive-solar design can make the best use of the sun, shade and breezes while reducing a house's energy consumption even before the purchase of solar panels and water tanksiii. For example, cool breezes can be drawn into homes during the summer months using louvered windows, which also reduce the need for air-conditioning and associated energy costsii.

Multi-purpose rooms

Flexible interior spaces are very important for modern Australian families whose needs continue to change overtime. Multi-purpose rooms allow the family to easily adapt their house for the number of occupants and how they use certain rooms - may it be for the grown-up children who decide to stay at home for longer, or for elderly parents who move back in with their children. Australians are leaning towards rooms that reflect the notion of being together, such as rooms with integrated workstations that allow parents and children to work and play in the same space, rather than in separate roomsi.

Multi-purpose rooms are great for home entertainment.

Bedroom-sized rooms can easily be converted for home entertainment, study, office, sleeping, exercise or entertainment purposes depending on the family situationi. Building basements is becoming more popular since they are often cheaper than buying the equivalent amount of land. Basements can give greater flexibility since they can be used as an additional multi-purpose room; for example, dedicated to home entertainment or serve as a modern 'man cave' . Houses without the space for a basement reclaim their roof space, creating sundecks for some peace and quiet, or a rooftop garden for their next partyiii.

Interior décor

Homeowners have turned away from simple, functional lighting and colour, and now focus on creating moods and ambience to suit their individual tastes. Previously, downlights cluttered the ceilings of Australian homes and required holes to be drilled in household insulation for every lightiv. Now, discreet thin LED strip lighting is preferred, providing interesting highlights in homes without the excess clutteriv.

Energy efficient lights are also on the rise, with homeowners wanting to reduce their energy consumption and the government applying more stringent regulations to lightbulbsv. Compact fluorescent lamps (CFL) or LED lamps are two options that are more energy efficient than incandescent bulbs, yet still provide visually appealing lighting optionsv.

According to industry professionals, 'coastal'-themed décor will continue to be popular in many Australian homes. Rough-around-the-edges ceramics and a marine-inspired palette that includes turquoise and aqua colours will also continue to be prevalentiii. Also making a comeback are 1970s inspired colour schemes, with bright, blocked colour and warm tones of green, ochre, pink and peachvi.

iZenere, A 2013, 'Architecture trends 2013', Archizen Architects, viewed 5 July 2014,

iiMcFayden, K 2014, 'Top 5 trends in Aussie Architecture for 2014', Real Estate View, 29 January, viewed 5 July 2014,

iiiRule, J 2014, 'What's hot for homes in 2014', The West Australian, 31 January, viewed 5 July 2014,

ivBoyd, C 2012, 'Home trends - flexible and connected', Domain, 8 May, viewed 5 July 2014,

vDestination Living 2014, Lighting Trends 2014, viewed 30 July 2014,

viDestination Living 2014, Interior Colour Trends 2013-2014, viewed 30 July 2014,