For those currently scoping out their luxury house plans – there are a number of factors from market trends to interior design and technology options to consider. Here’s a round-up of the latest news affecting the million dollar homes sector.
All indications show that Sydney’s booming real estate market has peaked and price growth will ease in 2017, according to a housing outlook by QBE Insurance Australia and forecaster BIS Shrapnel.
While many of the world’s prime real estate markets softened in 2016, prices in Sydney continued to grow amid a boom in construction, though at a much slower rate. Median house prices in Sydney grew 2.1% and units grew only 0.9% between September 2015 and September 2016, according to a report by Domain.
The year 2017 will see increased government and bank regulation, including tighter lending rules, particularly on foreign investors, slowing price growth yet further. Several states, including New South Wales, have also implemented a stamp duty on foreign buyers and land tax surcharges.
Chinese investors, who make up a majority of foreign investors in Australia, are increasingly restricted in terms of buying on these shores, due to tighter capital controls in China that look set to limit capital outflow and impact investor activity in Australian markets.
While buyers may benefit from a relative softening of prices, there may also be moves afoot to rein in spending on new luxury homes, yes even in the million dollar homes sector. Architects and luxury home builders are reporting growing interest in solutions that will stand the test of time. These kinds of decisions are most evident in more complex areas of the home that are harder and more costly to renovate such as kitchens and bathrooms. Experts are frequently recommending ‘ageless’ approaches to these areas, exemplified by ‘classic country’ or ‘timeless modern’ looks.
Classic country surfaces and cupboards might be rustic yet sleek, while counters or vanity tops might be executed in durable richly coloured timber. Matte or satin finishes in neutral hues are common in this style. Timeless modern can also features neutral tones or contrasting black and white (pictured above) with harder accents, executed through for example a moulded concrete kitchen island and industrial touches such as white tiles offset by a darker feature stripe in a mosaic application. A classic freestanding ceramic bath in a neutral, timeless shape and tapware that is neither fiercely modern nor too traditional, might be the choices here.
Rise in connectivity or digital detox?
Smart technology looks set to be in high demand in 2017, with voice controlled radiators, high-tech but minimalist security systems and smart heating all continuing to find their way into homes, often-times in well executed design solutions, as illustrated here.
New networking protocols mean that many types of everyday devices, especially battery powered ones, are now being given the ‘smart’ treatment. They are being connected with each other and to the internet and this technology movement is gaining traction rapidly. This trend is present across everything from wearables to home and consumer appliances and in building fixtures including home theatres, window treatments and shading solutions.
At the same time, a seemingly contradictory interest will also grow in the idea of “digital detox” as key to luxury home design. Many people are demanding home designs that give them a break from the modern world, or at least specifying designated areas of the home that are ‘digital-free’ and encourage traditional family time or relaxation.
Key digital detox trends include the use of cork, wood and concrete, and natural palettes including stone greys, browns and metallic accents.
Bringing the outside in – water features
Water features inside and outside the home have always been a great way to denote luxury for high end home owners. New technologies are making this trend ever easier to execute, and include a number of key sub-trends.
Natural shapes such as ponds and streams inside the home, can create a peaceful and beautiful feeling of serenity. Key to the trend are asymmetrical shapes and flowing, natural lines, often influenced by Asian aesthetics and offset by natural textures such as stone, rock and timber.
Fountains and waterfalls are a classic and sought after indoor water feature. They have a number of benefits including reducing noise pollution by creating “white noise” reducing air temperature and improving air quality because the motion of the moving water helps circulate air
Formal pools in elegant rectangular shapes can be surrounded by stylish pots with indoor planting, or decorated with statement tiling or mosaic designs. This style of indoor pool harks back to the formal luxury and poise of ancient roman villas and works particularly well in homes with classic features such as columns and arches. They can also be enhanced with sculptures, spouts and fountains.
Greenery update – green doesn’t always mean go!
There’s been a lot of talk about Pantone’s colour of the year for 2017 – Greenery. The colour optimistically signifies beginnings: a fresh New Year; healthier food resolutions and growing vegetarian trends; grass and the outdoors during spring and summer. Overall, it’s been associated with the environment and renewed enlightenment about the natural world.
Nevertheless the colour is being recommended with caution by many interior designers, with warnings against the threat of green overload. “This kind of fresh, leafy green provides a wonderful zingy colour boost but should be used sparingly,” said one. “It’s wonderful against white and timber and certain neutral tones, but is probably best used as an accent colour in cushions, vases, small items of furniture and even artworks. Used on a whole room it would be too overpowering.”