House Diary #3: Some Design Details

Enough of the navel-gazing. Today, I’m going to actually share some design details of the house. I hesitate to share too much at this stage because nothing is finalized but below are a few features that we’re all quite excited about.

1. Circular Windows

Sandy Point House by Kennedy Nolan

I absolutely adore the works of Melbourne-based architecture firm, Kennedy Nolan. The use of circular windows has become somewhat of a theme for them. But I’m also just overall inspired by their creative and playful ways of using colour, material, and shapes. Our house will feature 3 circular windows. I’ve always been partial to circles—my nickname in Chinese is 圆圆 (Yuan Yuan), meaning Circle Circle. So this detail delights me on a personal level. Aesthetically, at certain points throughout the day, the circular windows will cast a warm orb of light on the opposite wall, which I think will be stunning.

2. Fiber Cement Cladding

by GENS. Photo from ArchDaily

There was A LOT of back and forth with the architects when it came to cladding. To be honest, we still haven’t fully decided on 2/3 of the cladding yet. By that I mean the house has three volumes and we have only wholeheartedly agreed on one of the volumes: fiber cement cladding. The podcast 99% Invisible even featured an episode, Instant Gramification, on this very material, or rather the zealotry that happened after Assemble, a design studio, put up their handmade multi-coloured cement cladding. People started noticing and visiting in droves just to take photos in front of it. It became one of the most popular backdrops on Instagram.

The Yardhouse by Assemble

While this phenomenon could have been a deterrent, I still do love it for its budget-friendly nature and texture. We will not be doing multi-coloured cladding. It will be a soft-grey and will partially be hidden behind a wooden screen. I think the subtle texture that comes through will create lovely visual intrigue and depth.

3. Wooden Screen

One of our top requests in the house design to our architects was privacy. In our current house, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve made awkward eye contact with my neighbour next door while I was lying on the sofa (shamefully scrolling on my phone for too long…everyone deserves privacy while they doom scroll) and he’s flipping a burger on the BBQ. Like I mentioned in my last post, a lot of the new houses are built to impress a buyer (and somehow windows became that currency), sacrificing its long-term livability. On a positive note, I have noticed a few of the newer builds in my neighbourhood that manage to elegantly take privacy into consideration. We will have wooden screens in front of two of the volumes of the house. The exact screen design has not been finalized. It will likely be wooden slats depending on how our budget shakes out.

House Progress: We are in the tail-end of the estimation phase, where our General Contractor works on a detailed budget of exactly how much the house will cost to build. Once we have the estimation, we will most likely cut out nice-to-have features because, I hear, the first iteration of the cost will always give you a heart attack.