Why space is now word on the street

Award winning architect Julianne Field, from JMc Architects Cairns says many people are approaching the ‘new normal’ by reverting to traditional values and a focus on safe, comfortable and stylish living at home.

While thankfully Cairns and the Far North hasn’t had to endure the severe lockdowns experienced by our southern cousins, COVID-19 has provided a taste of how it feels to work from home, home-school our children and generally spend a lot more of our leisure time at home.

“If there is a silver lining from the seriousness of recent events, it may very well be that moving forward we will live fuller lives in our homes,” Julianne said.

According to Julianne, well considered home offices, entertaining spaces (both formal dining rooms and casual outdoor spaces), reading rooms and peaceful nooks offering retreats from busier spaces are firmly back on new home builders’ wish lists.

Julianne believes work-at-home offices are set to become a permanent feature of modern residential living, with kitchens remaining the hub of the home. She also predicts a return to beautiful dining spaces as dinner parties make a come-back, with outdoor entertaining spaces continuing to evolve as we opt to invite people in rather than go out.

“The principles of good design will underpin how successfully these features meet a brief that blends aesthetics, functionality and budget as well as enhancing  the long term value of the residence,” she said.

Julianne says successful work-from-home offices are reliant upon achieving a work/life balance that enables seamless co-existence with the private residence.

“The challenge is ensuring the ‘fit’ of an office within the footprint of the home - functionally, socially and aesthetically - by creating a space which will allow for work and can be used for other homelife experiences,” she said.

Whether accommodating an office in ‘to-be-renovated’ existing homes or for new-builds, there is a new consciousness of cleverly using space rather than simply taking a make-it-bigger approach.

Case in point is the award-winning residence, O’Shea House, in Machans Beach.

Julianne designed this stunning home several years ago proving that thoughtfully used space trumps increasing size every time.

“With a small footprint and compact plan, our design included soaring ceilings that provide a sense of spaciousness. Consistent with our clients’ sustainability values we designed the residence with generous roof overhangs, sunhoods and well insulated roof and walls which contributed to achieving an enviable energy efficiency rating (8.0/10.0 Stars),” she said.

Importantly, the design also needed to satisfy the personal comfort needs of living and working in a tropical coastal location.

This was achieved by creating cross ventilation which funnels seasonal north east and south easterly breezes to cool the internal spaces. Openings on either end of the rectangular plan enables longitudinal air movement year-round.

The home office, located on the first floor, benefits from natural light and air flow. Aesthetically, a well-positioned void space, perfectly frames a spectacular ocean view and while it may encourage the occasional daydream, it mostly creates a quiet beautiful space ideal for maximising productivity.

The design enables the office to operate effectively and maintain privacy (for both the business and homeowner) while providing seamless cohabitation spaces that may be used by the family and their many friends.

Rather than simply adding-in the office as an extra, it was thoughtfully integrated in the overall design of the home to enable business-life to gently coexist with this family’s private-life.

Julianne says good design is transcendental. Functional practicality, comfort and aesthetics combined with environmental and sustainability matters are top of mind considerations.

O’Shea House has a sentimental place in Julianne’s heart, not only because she received two coveted design awards for her design, but because of the joy it brings the owners. 

“Even though it’s no longer new, the owners still tell me that passers-by regularly stop and take photos of their home,” Julianne said.