A time for reflection - What's important for your home space

Some people might have been chomping at the bit to return to the office, where others might have been wishing for the days of avoiding commutes and spending more time with loved ones to continue. Whatever your personal feelings are towards the recent events, it has provided an opportunity to assess what does and doesn’t work for us as individuals, and what’s important for us to live a satisfying life. So much of our time is spent in buildings which makes us question, do they provide what we actually require?

The importance of a home

A home is a structure that’s meant to provide a space where we’re sheltered from danger, weather extremes and importantly, to provide privacy, however they can also be interactive spaces where we engage with the wider community. Think of all the teddy bears in windows during lockdown and talking at a distance at the front gate, these are the very basic functions of a home. Unfortunately, a lot of homes in New Zealand fail at these basic requirements which would have become readily apparent to people after spending so much time at home recently.

Consider altering your home with advice from a design professional

How architectural designers can help is to understand your needs and desires to facilitate a happy and fulfilling experience within and around your home. This does not necessarily mean building something new but can be as simple as tweaking what you have or adding an additional bedroom. Maybe it’s creating a study/work nook in an existing room to provide a divide between home and work so the dining room table is no longer crowded with laptops and paper work, or providing an area for kids to be kids which means no more Lego pieces ready to be stepped on in the hallway.

Designers will usually meet obligation free; this is a great way for the designer to understand existing or new spaces and see how these can be utilised to their full potential. This is an excellent way for them to gain knowledge and to condense and rationalise what you require.

There has also recently been changes announced to the New Zealand Building code making it easier to construct buildings up to thirty square meters. This is great news but does have some pitfalls if you aren’t fully aware of all the requirements. Advice can easily be sourced for this from architectural designers. This gives homeowners the opportunity to construct an office, sleep-out or garden shed which can enhance the interaction with outdoor spaces.

Outdoor space has never been so valuable. Being restricted to our homes meant that our relationship to the outdoors has been extremely important. It doesn’t mean that you need a big back yard, but that the area needs to work effectively. Does it invite us outside, is there easy and logical access, and do we get that sense of calm that these spaces should evoke? Even having well thought out windows looking onto these spaces can provide this and should be considered when renovating or building a new home.

Investing in good design won’t be something you’ll regret

It’s easy to think that designers are an expense not required or that they provide unrealistic fantasies that cost heaven and earth to implement. This isn’t the case, and in many ways can help reduce expense. An architectural designer can help rationalise what’s required and give understanding to what is feasible within budget constraints. They can facilitate tendering out work to local builders helping to support the local community, can help obtain competitive pricing for clients, as well as specifying the use of locally sourced materials which are unlikely to have long lead times. We’re a country of wood coupled with resourcefulness; we have this great resource at our fingertips, forethought to these things can really help and in a lot of cases save money.

Great design can be derived from constraints, how often do you look at a tricky building site and see an ingenious and engaging build/home? Compare that to a large section where any style of home can exist resulting in nothing more than a fleeting glimpse. This can also be applied to times of rationalisation like what we’re currently experiencing. Can a tight budget mean innovative ideas can be nurtured and obtained? Yes, it can. Perhaps the current climate we’re in will create a period of great thought and inner reflection of what we need as individuals in regards to how we live. This not only benefits clients, but also design and the environment as a whole.

Article co written with Michael John and Nicholas Mann of AO Architecture. 

Find out more about Michael, Nicholas, and AO Architecture here.