Issue 4.3 May 2015
In this issue of Grand Designs Australia magazine, we step into a time capsule of Australian design, we beat the winter chill with a selection of heaters, and the latest in bathroom technology.
As the cool weather bites it’s time to think heating; this issue we look at keeping warm with wood, gas, electric and solar heating with advice from the experts. Flooring can also act as an insulator and our feature discusses carpets and rugs as well as hard floor coverings. Choosing an architect can be a challenging task but it’s important to get it right. We talk to Melbourne-based architect, Nic Owen who gives us his top ten tips for selecting the best person to design your dream home. Along with all our regular departments, there’s lots of great ideas and inspiration to help you create your ideal home.
Do you remember I told you I have a house in northern New South Wales? It’s a modest brick-veneer home that my parents left me. It’s not in the most exotic location but is in a “best street” from 2000, which remains well kept by the neighbourhood to this day. I haven’t spent a great deal of time in the house — usually only a few weeks each year at Christmas, Easter and the like. But since both of my parents have now passed, the time has come to decide: sell or renovate? At the moment, I can’t think of selling my parents’ home as it has sentimental value. And apart from that, my husband, Ian, loves the area and has installed himself in the house and I think it might be hard to prise him out of it! He has already turned part of the back garden into a food “farm” and has plans to run workshops to teach people how to grow their own food and create a micro-climate to assist with passive heating and cooling. And I have given him a plan for the rest of the landscaping and outdoor area to create an entertaining space, complete with outdoor kitchen, seating area and, of course, a green wall or two. I even have a space on the plans for a future, natural swimming pool as it gets very hot in summer.
Do I plan to live in the house? That’s a question I haven’t really answered yet. I do plan to spend more time there and I’m thinking I’ll keep it for a couple of years to decide what to do next. I have thought of renovating then selling and doing it all again, which is something I used to do in a previous life. Even if I do renovate to sell, the renovation, while mostly cosmetic as the house is not old, will be done with eco and sustainable principles in mind. Retrofitting an existing house to make it more energy-efficient is challenging, but there are things that can be done. The two main areas that I need to focus on are heating and cooling. The area has very hot summers and cold winters and at present the house needs mechanical heating and cooling. I plan to overcome this problem with passive systems including insulation, green walls, appropriate landscaping and other protocols yet to be determined.
As far as the interiors are concerned, everything will meet the eco standards I’m looking for. All furniture and furnishings, fixtures, fittings, lighting and equipment will be thoroughly researched and all trades people will be required to understand and adhere to best practice principles.
While this grand design of mine is relatively modest, I want to ensure that regardless of how long I own the property, everything I do to it is undertaken with the health and wellbeing of the inhabitants and the environment in mind. It’s been my life’s passion to create beautiful and sustainable buildings and interiors and I’m looking forward to my next opportunity to make a difference and show that wherever you live and whatever the budget for your grand design, you can do the same. Watch this space!
It’s been my life’s passion to create beautiful and sustainable buildings and interiors and I’m looking forward to my next opportunity to make a difference and show that wherever you live and whatever the budget for your grand design, you can do the same.
Kate St James, FDIA