With all the media talk of urban growth and major Australian cities bursting at the seams due to mushrooming populations, it follows that even custom designed homes are beginning to slim down, particularly if clients are city-slickers favouring the bright lights and instant amenity offered by metropolitan locations.
Some quarters of the market for luxury modern homes are jumping on the narrow-block bandwagon with cleverly designed homes that offer a distinctively urban kind of luxury. Sometimes these luxury house plans borrow from the warehouse living tradition that has held sway since the early eighties, while others opt for a nod to the terraced grandeur of Georgian homes.
Whatever style they adopt, what unifies the really good examples of these homes is of course, clever design, which makes tiny seem, well, grand.
So how is this Alice in Wonderland effect achieved?
What’s critical here is an understanding of the site. Every narrow block might seem the same, but in fact each has its own set of characteristics. A good builder specialising in custom designed homes
should also be able to work with you to provide guidance on your maximum building envelop by establishing criteria such as required setbacks and areas where you might be overlooking neighbours, which will determine where you are able to have clear vision glass or will require screening.
They will also know how to deploy certain approaches that maximise space, such as, for example, double storey voids in livings areas, to really create that wow factor. The best luxury house plans for narrow blocks make great use of layout to optimise space (both its illusion an abundance of actual space) and storage. Open plan living is a given for most small homes; for example kitchen, living and dining room can be melded to form a unified space that nevertheless still maintains different zones.
A big advantage here is that natural light is maximised and shared. Natural light brings an easy kind of beauty to any home, saves on energy bills and, coupled with a pale décor palette, offers a sense of clean, airy space. A floor plan that gives onto an alfresco dining area or perhaps even a central, open courtyard will create an open air room that works in seamlessly with every other room and once again offers light-filling opportunities through full wall height glazing. By adding windows for lots of natural light, especially the north facing side of your home as well as skylights wherever possible, you’ll be able to achieve this to best effect.
A note however; because you will need to place windows in unusual places, it may be worth investing in automated window coverings, so that double height skylight no longer creates unwanted glare at six in the morning and doesn’t require a ladder or other high risk methods of opening and closing its covering.
In terms of décor, a unifying palette and lack of clutter are essential. You may also need to get creative. For example a statement dining table and ornate console in your kitchen instantly ties it to the more decorative adjoining living zone, providing a uniform feel.
The key unifying feature here is that small is beautiful; well-designed luxury house plans in which almost everything is well within reach (not to mention very easy to heat!) do possess an effortless “less-is-more” charm.