Design Directions

Last Updated: 04 Jan 2016
Lily Yeang

With new materials, designs and building methods being developed every day, it is often hard to keep up to speed with what’s hot and what’s not. Here are a number of elements used by Western Australia’s best architects and builders to help you decide.


Patterns not only create visual appeal, but can also help to unify spaces within the home. Here, a simple geometric pattern features throughout this riverside residence. The design is first seen on the hallway ceiling, a customised wallpaper made by Bullet Signs and Print. It resonates with large cutout steel screens, allowing the pattern's shadows to be cast across the home's wooden floors. A similar design can be found in the living area, where the architects used a number of timber planks arranged in criss-crosses on the ceiling. Featuring such a prominent motif throughout helps to connect the home's varying materials and surfaces together. wrightfeldhusen (08) 9384 6611,

Photography Joel Barbitta.


This Fremantle abode is the perfect example of how great orientation and shading can be used to best benefit the home's residents and the
environment. The upstairs living area grabs the sun throughout the day, reducing the need for heating or lighting. The shading system over the balcony was custom-designed by the architects to ensure that, in the height of summer, the sun is kept outside. The angles of the fixed louvres allow the sun to penetrate deeper into the space, while a second vertical louvered screen located on the west side assists in ameliorating the harsh western sun in the hotter months. Large sliding glass doors let air directly into the home, minimising the need for air-conditioning. Matthews & Scavalli Architects (08) 9316 0531,

Photography Joel Barbitta.


With work-life balance a high priority for Australia's workers, the home office is fast becoming a necessity in all new builds. Matthews & Scavalli injected a sense of fun, mystery and intrigue into this office/study design, which offers views of the harbour to the south of the home. The small space, which features a bookcase and vibrant furnishings, is a creative environment in which the family can work, study and play, and the wooden staircase towards the back of the study accesses the roof through a hatch, for when those hard workers need a breath of fresh air. Matthews & Scavalli Architects (08) 9316 0531,


This home, found in the heart of a karri forest in Denmark, boasts a design that is bushfire-resilient, the construction achieving the second highest Bushfire Attack Level under the Australian Bushfires Standard. The build features rock-anchored, heavy masonry walls that protect the internal areas from fire, and a steel cantilevered frame that minimises the chances of a fire spreading. The architects also developed a cost-effective, BAL-40 bushfire-rated shutter system, used to moderate breeze, glare and insects. The sliding stainless steel mesh shutters protect the most fire-exposed side of the house, screening the large sliding glass doors that open up to the verandah. This home was in the running for a 2015 Australian Institute of Architects Award. Ian Weir Architect 0411 155 151,; Kylie Feher Architect 0400 262 843,;

Photography Sarah Landro.


Tiles have been the leading choice for bathroom interiors for centuries, and rightfully so. Not only do they have the hardiness to withstand the elements, they also make the bathroom a striking feature in the home. Small mosaic tiles are great for feature walls, used either to match the bathroom's colour palette or to stand out as a pattern or mural. They break up larger floor and wall tiles, and look amazing as a backdrop for the shower, bathtub or vanities. This bathroom features Sicis Blend Amazonas glass mosaics and Roman travertine from Myaree Ceramics. Myaree Ceramics (08) 9330 3611,

Photography Lee Griffith.


Blurring inside with out has almost become a requirement for Australian architects, who attempt to reflect our travelling lifestyle. More and more designs are taking cues from holiday resorts and villas, which encompass pools and spas in the vicinity of private quarters and living spaces. This home oozes resort style, thanks to a large, recessed-frame window that appears to make the main ensuite part of the exterior courtyard and spa. Homogenous floor and wall tiles visually tie the spaces together to read as one element. Craig Steere Architects (08) 9380 4662,

Photography Robert Frith.


Fireplaces are no longer used just to heat a room; they can also be a design element that changes the look and appearance of a space. Here, an orb-like fire hangs from the ceiling, almost like an unusual sculpture or feature piece. It stands out in front of a black-bricked wall and neutral-coloured floorboards, creating a contemporary approach to indoor heating, and complementing the overall living-room design and layout. Attention is drawn to the fireplace – which is positioned in the corner of the room – by use of a thick, grey curtain, which helps block out the outdoor living areas and create an intimate setting. This home was in the running for a 2015 Australian Institute of Architects Award. Hartree + Associates Architects (08) 9481 7119,;

Photography Peter Bennetts.


Lighting is just as important to a home as its walls and floors, illuminating each room when needed, and helping to define particular areas susceptible to darkness. In this coastal home, the ceiling features a collection of recessed fluid elements that provide light, either natural or artificial. They are used to identify the different areas within the large open-plan space – the dining room, kitchen, living area, stairwell and balcony. Lighting is concealed in the sides and spread evenly through the recessed zones. Natural light enters through two of the light scoops (above the stairs and at the balcony), creating passive heat gain. Iredale Pedersen Hook (08) 9322 9750,

Photography Jack Lovel.


Along with plenty of aged timber, wicker furniture, and a colour palette of whites, greys, soft blues and greens, these floor tiles from Myaree Ceramics create a rustic-meets-sea-bleached interior, reminiscent of coastal living. Printed floor tiles might seem like a bold choice for a bathroom, but if teamed with muted tones, they can add warmth, depth and charm to an otherwise plain space. The tiles form an antique Persian rug – minus the dust. The bold yet understated floor is brightened by a Lightingales light, which hangs over a freestanding bath from Caroma. Webb & Brown-Neaves (08) 6365 4060,; Myaree Ceramics (08) 9330 3611,

Photography Angelita Bonetti.


As houses become smaller, the way we furnish each room needs to be smarter. No longer is it viable to have large fireplaces that engulf a space, or giant tubs that take up most of the bathroom. An easy way to save space is to place large features in dead areas, or to enhance the space around the feature. In this Klopper & Davis home, the fireplace doubles as seating, allowing guests to enjoy both the seaside views, and the warmth of a fire. Klopper & Davis Architects (08) 9381 4731,


As technology develops rapidly, so do the materials we use and the way we build our homes. Walls are no longer made strictly of bricks and mortar, with West Australian architects like the Bacic Group opting to use insulated concrete walling systems instead. The Insulated Concrete Form walls, which were delivered flat-packed to the site, allowed the 935sqm structure to be built in just nine months. The home itself doesn't contain a single brick, the concrete accompanied
by stone, glass, timber and render. Bacic Group 0434 066 747,

Photography Robert Frith.


Recycled concrete walls form the foundation of this home, situated in North Perth. The raw material palette echoes throughout the home, the timber cladding clear finished and the concrete left raw. The materials were chosen so that, in time, as the house is affected by the elements, and weathers over time, the facade would reflect its age and maintain its organic nature and connection with the land and residents' lives. The walls, which have a large, timber-box structure sitting atop them, extend into a garden, to promote this relationship with the land. Created to encompass its natural surroundings, the upstairs wooden structure also frames views of the city and treetops. This home was in the running for a 2015 Australian Institute of Architects Award. Jonathan Lake Architects
(08) 9444 5570,;


A staircase can add both a practical and sculptural element to any home. Here,
the balustrading acts not only as hand railing for guests, but also as a piece of art. The poles, made of mild steel with a micaceous paint finish, are manmade stalactites, dripping from the ceiling down. The dark grey poles work well with the sandstone-clad stair treads and the rest of the home's monochromatic colour palette, which gives the homeowners the freedom to decorate each room with their growing collection of art. Craig Steere Architects (08) 9380 4662,


Pots and planters shouldn't be reserved for the garden. In fact, they can make
a striking feature within the home. They're the perfect way to enhance an area that would otherwise be dead space – underneath a stairwell, an awkward nook, or at the end of a hallway. If filling a dark space, choose planters that illuminate and brighten, whether they be large LED planter boxes or merely a stark white-coloured box. Thanks to their minimal thirst, hardy succulents and cacti make the best indoor plants, adding greenery and a natural feel. Webb & Brown-Neaves (08) 6365 4060,

Photography Annetta Ashman.


When you've got a property in the perfect location, it's of the upmost importance that you maximise its views. Banham Architects did just that at this City Beach home, by installing a three-storey picture window to its rear. Clear glass runs from the bottom to top floors in the stairwell, and across the top of the upstairs living areas, promoting natural lighting and endless views of the neighbourhood and skyscape. Opposite the windows of the third floor, sliding glass doors open up to an outdoor alfresco area, allowing the house to be soaked in sun throughout the day. Banham Architects (08) 9321 5588,

Photography Jack Lovel.


As land sizes continue to shrink, so does space for gardens in the home. Instead of creating another 'all house and no garden' design, architects wrightfeldhusen devised an H-shaped home with two courtyards, ensuring that the outside garden maintains a connection with the home and its residents. The main living area, a four metre-high area with large clerestory windows that open to enable cross ventilation, divides the north-facing external terrace and garden from the south-facing pool area. Large sliding glass doors open the room up, resulting in
a large pavilion between the two external living areas. This home was in the running for a 2015 Australian Institute of Architects Award. wrightfeldhusen (08) 9384 6611,;


Nestled amongst the old asbestos beach shacks that line the coast in Augusta, this U-shaped abode boasts a unique design concept and build. Exploring the advantages of marine construction techniques, the home was prefabricated in a boat factory in Bibra Lake, before it was transported to its coastal location. Styrofoam panels were used for the walls, floors and roofs, while sealed weatherboards and frameless glazing protect the interior from harsh winds. The large family room with built-in seating, and the bedroom opposite, both have unobstructed views of the Southern Ocean thanks to large glass windows and box-like construction. This home was in the running for a 2015 Australian Institute of Architects Award. Andrew T Boyne Architect 0423 601 604,;

Photography Bo Wong.


Referencing the industrial architecture of South Fremantle, this home is predominately made up of recycled brick, timber and zincalume cladding. Red brick walls act as the base of the building, an ode to the terraced houses found in the home's local area. Juxtaposing the rustic bricks is a timber ceiling, while the upper portion of the home is clad in zincalume, similar to the deep roofs of nearby warehouse buildings. Unlike many dark, stuffy old terrace houses, this design uses high ceilings and glass windows and doors to maximise natural light and ventilation, while the two central courtyards of the home add a hint of greenery to the industrial-meets-contemporary design. This home was in the running for a 2015 Australian Institute of Architects Award. Yun Nie Chong & Patrick Kosky 0410 991 393;

Photography Andrew Boyne.


White might seem like the boring choice for interiors, but it is often the most versatile. Apart from giving the owners the ability to dress up each room any way they want, white walls and floors add depth to the room, and enhance light. For definition, try adding hints of colour through vanities, cabinets and soft furnishings, or include a feature wall in a natural pattern like marble for a subtle contrast. Mirrors help to further brighten the bathroom, as do ceiling-to-floor windows, which frame views and allow an endless stream of light to flow onto bathers soaking in the 320kg Italian stone bath from Ceramica Cielo.
Bacic Group 0434 066 747,

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