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  • Writer's pictureBenny Kuriakose

All You Need to Know About House Design

Over the years, countless trends have come and gone with regard to house owners and house design. Many of these are so subtle that they have become an inseparable part of our lives, while others have been obvious. As a designer with experience of more than 20 years of, I am confident that the client demand for design has increased. They have become more design-conscious and pay attention to the smallest details. As a result, the designers are also expected to be up-to-date on all home trends. So, this article offers a few suggestions and pointers to keep up with the ever-changing modern house design.

List of Contents

1. Misconception about Construction rate per sq ft

2. Common Home Design Trends Seen Over the Years

3. Changing Home Trends

4. Progressing Exterior Elevations

5. Changing Interior Design

6. Expanding Livingroom Layouts

7. Continuing Contemporary Kitchens

8. Evolving Kitchen cum Dining Concepts

9. Growing Minimalist Toilets and Bathrooms

10. Changing Balcony Design

11. Advancing Master Bedrooms

12. Moving Towards Sustainable House Design

13. Plan Ahead to Accommodate these Interior Design Trends

14. Conclusion

1. Misconception about Construction Rate per sq ft

There is often talk about the construction rate per sq ft of a building It can be misleading as this gives only a rough estimate for house construction. Many clients come to me and say that they want to reduce the cost of construction by 10%, by shrinking the plinth area by 10%. However, the overall costs will not come down by 10% unless they remove one of the rooms.

Even if you reduce the area little by little from each room without reducing any of the rooms, the cost of the doors, windows, electrical points, plumbing, etc. remains the same. For example, a 100 sq ft room may cost Rs. 50000/- while a 120 sq ft will not cost Rs. 60,000/-.

2. Common Home Design Trends seen over the years

When I started my career 22 years ago, one light point, one tube light, and one 5 Amp socket were sufficient for a master bedroom. Now, extra plug points for a computer, cordless phone, mosquito mats, cell phone chargers, table lamp, music system, etc. are given. Clearly, the standard of living has gone up and is, by all accounts, rising as well. People are spending more and more time indoors, where architecture and interior design play a significant part.

Appropriately, the size of rooms has also increased. Refrigerators (a luxury in the past), televisions, computers, washing machines, vacuum cleaners, etc. have become an essential part of everyday life and these have to be planned for. A powder room has become common. Some add home offices and gymnasiums. Inevitably, the storage requirements have also gone up. Diverse storage options like kitchen storage, wardrobe storage, and general storage are desired. The concept of lighting has changed over the years as well. People want softer light shades and a wide variety of fixtures all over the house. Air-conditioners and central HVAC systems are substantially used these days.

3. Changing Home Trends

The overall style of construction has also undergone remarkable development. The style doesn’t matter as long as the kitchen and toilet work properly. Modern, traditional styles are very superficial. Generally, there has been a strong movement towards simple design. Ornamentation is becoming less and less. Modern architecture and minimalist design are slowly diminishing. Nature and natural materials are becoming popular.

4. Progressing Exterior Elevations

The trends in elevations keep on changing. It is very difficult to stay up to date with the latest fashion. I do a lot of buildings in ethnic styles, not necessarily in Kerala style. There is a good demand for these kinds of buildings. Most of the resorts which come up are in the ethnic style.

5. Changing Interior Design

Colour plays a major role in interior design. It can affect the mood of a person. It is a very personal choice and differs from person to person. Light colours for the walls, floors, and furniture can make the room look bigger. But, bright and dark colours are now in demand. Yellow, green and blue is favoured by most clients.

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6. Expanding Living room layouts

Living rooms are becoming bigger as a minimum viewing distance of 10 feet is required for large screen televisions. This can be why many people do not prefer televisions in living rooms. Additionally, the furniture is not comfortable enough for watching movies and does not give the privacy one requires. Hence, an additional room is needed and it is called a home theatre or family room. If the budget permits, it would be delightful to have this room in all houses so that everyone in the family can get together for some quality family time.

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7. Continuing Contemporary Kitchens

There has been rapid advancement with respect to the kitchen layout. It is not a place where women have to spend the bulk of their lives making food, wash vessels, etc; the husband, as well as other members of the family, also contribute. Several modular kitchen companies that set up ready-made kitchens have also come up, but their cost is quite high when compared with the custom-made ones.

The size of the kitchen is much smaller than the traditional kitchen as the cooking habits of people have shifted from sitting to standing. Therefore, having a large room without enough counter space makes no sense now. Moreover, the kind of things that are stored has also changed. With both the husband and wife working, more things have to be stored in the fridge. The growing popularity of ready-made goods such as milk, curd, juice, and tinned items, also necessitates the need for vast storage in the fridge.

Additional storage can be provided in the form of storage shelves or cupboards; whose arrangement is more cost-effective than an extra room. All of them do not require expensive imported hardware fittings. The Indian makes are much cheaper and work reasonably well. Please bear in mind that the shelves might be remodelled more frequently than the hardware that lasts a lifetime.

Kitchen gadgets are also becoming more and more popular. There are many in the market but think twice before buying because based on my experience, 50% of the people who install dishwashers (or other equipment) don’t use them. It could have been avoided as they are not used to such a lifestyle. But, there are exceptions to this rule. The electric chimney (hood) is useful, especially in less ventilated rooms.

Accordingly, there is always confusion about the placement of such appliances, specifically the washing machine. Many use one of the bathrooms to place the washing machine, while others have a utility room attached to the kitchen; popularly known as the laundry room. One benefit of these utility areas could be that there is no electrical danger. It can also be used for various other activities such as washing vessels, ironing, grinding, etc.

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8. Evolving Kitchen cum Dining Concepts

The concept of the open kitchen is becoming well-liked. In such a case, the kitchen would have to be bigger. Even for bungalows with a detached dining room, additional space in the kitchen is given for family dining purposes. The advantage of the kitchen cum dining (like in our ancestral houses, where we used to eat in the kitchen itself, and the dining room was absent) would be that the food does not have to be transferred from the kitchen to the dining area. Children and close family members can have their breakfast before going out in the morning. This can encourage meaningful conversations and be a social spot in the house.

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9. Growing Minimalist Bathrooms and Toilets

Bathrooms are another place where drastic changes are happening. The size of the room is made bigger and a minimum shower area separated by an alcove, a low wall, shower curtain, or cubicle is in trend. For these, the tiling can be done only for the shower area, where water might fall on the walls. There is a good amount of cost reduction by avoiding modern bathroom tiles. The rest of the area can be finished using natural materials and paintings.

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10. Changing Balcony Design

Primarily, verandahs are used to seat the visitors. In many houses, they are narrow and present on the front side of the building. The front and first-floor sit-outs would be exposed and so, the family members do not use this space regularly. Therefore, the present trend is to give verandahs and balconies on the sides to provide privacy to the family. The width of the verandah is also important and should be a minimum of six feet so that people can sit facing each other. In many of the houses I design, I treat it like a room and allow more space to be given.

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11. Advancing Master Bedrooms

In some houses, the master bed becomes an important room. Many clients want children to sleep in the master bedroom, if possible in a separate bed. Few others ask for a children’s bedroom that is connected to the master bedroom. Some want televisions only in bedrooms, to have some alone time. Another change is the accommodation of computers in bedrooms. For small-budget homes, they can be put on one side of the bed's back wall.

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12. Moving Towards Sustainable House Design

The world has begun to embrace sustainability as a necessity and not a luxury. A lot of thought goes into designing sustainable houses. Firstly, people must understand that the maintenance cost of the building is as important as the initial cost of building it. Once that is clear, they can appreciate and enjoy the benefits of sustainable living. So, how to bring sustainable living concepts to houses?

The use of water should be minimized primarily. Low-flow fixtures and water closets can be installed to reduce the consumption of water. Recycled greywater can be used for flushing toilets and watering plants. Natural materials such as stone, timber, etc. that are eco-friendly can be used in place of synthetic ones. Materials with natural finishes are also beginning to be used extensively in interiors.

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Natural ventilation is another major factor in sustainable house design. Large corner windows allow natural light and offer beautiful views of the property. The energy consumed by man-made electrical fittings should also be minimized. LED lights are slowly becoming the norm of the day.

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As far as painting is concerned, lead paints have gone out of use a long time ago. Conventional paints contain formaldehyde that can be harmful to our health. It must be contained within safe levels. Even a few varieties of plywood, particle boards, and floor finishes have traces of formaldehyde in them. Healthy and non-toxic paints that contain no VOCs can be used.

13. Plan Ahead to Accommodate these Interior Design Trends

Our habits, like ourselves, change with time. It is not possible to redesign or shift houses, every time the trends in house design change. Therefore, a well-designed home would respond to the evolving needs of its residents and indulge both present and future generations. It should be able to adapt to changing lifestyles and provide flexible internal layouts that allow for affordable alterations.

The following as some areas to keep in mind while designing a home:

  • One of the important things to do is to plan the furniture arrangement of the rooms. The position of the furniture affects almost everything – the way you move, the way the room looks, the position of electrical points, etc. In the case of an apartment, one would have several space constraints and would have to adjust according to the building rather than the building adjusting to their requirements and way of life.

  • On the other hand, individual residences can have unique furniture groupings based on every space. For instance, the furniture arrangement in the living room should be in such a way that everybody can comfortably watch TV. It should be easy to engage in a conversation and have nice views of the garden.

  • Flexible or multi-purpose furniture arrangements work best for smaller rooms. One thumb rule I follow would be to not recommend a three-seater for the living rooms because people seldom use the middle seat. Instead, a spacious two-seater can be given to automatically divide the people into groups.

  • Rooms can be arranged in such a way that the eyes are led to different objects or the open landscapes outside. Too many objects tend to confuse the observer and distract their attention. Do not clutter rooms with unwarranted furniture and ornaments. Regardless of the style of the interior, forming a hierarchy of elements always works in favour of the clients.

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  • Insufficient storage is a dominant aspect in many houses. The utility of any room depends upon the amount of storage provided. Properly planned storage solutions would de-clutter rooms, and make them look organized. For example, a small kitchen with a cleverly planned combination of open and closed storage can be pleasing to the residents.

  • Design and decoration are not the only criteria. For example, when you buy a plumbing fitting, the thickness of the coating matters, the amount of brass used matters and the details of the internal parts matter.

  • I think the close circuit cameras (CCTV) in a house are becoming more relevant. More and more people are adopting CCTV in their houses.

  • A decade ago, we used to give provisions for internet cables in every bedroom. With the advent of wifi, the provision of giving cables for the internet was completely avoided. But now, we have started providing cables for every room in addition to providing wifi. This is because the internet speed is going to be multiplied many times as Wi-Fi has its limitations.

14. Conclusion

All these changes have made extra space a necessity. Additional space is an important long-term investment. If a house is large, it can undoubtedly be brought up to date based on the current home trends. But, with the rising urban sprawl, “Will the sizes of the houses become smaller in the future?” Maybe, maybe not. It is impossible to say for sure.

With all said and done, ultimately, what you like is the most important factor. The notion that a house is only a means of providing shelter is no longer applicable. The house design should express your individuality, not the designer's style. The house is for you to live in. Only you can determine whether your home should be colourful or monochrome; if it should be embellished or minimalist. But, do listen to the designers and take their advice into consideration before making a decision.

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