15 October 2018 | Daily Top Story: Outdoor space to play and shared bedrooms for children: What architects say family homes need today

The hottest trend in family homes are features to make them perfect for small children but flexible enough to also cater for older kids returning to the fold.

“Homes today need to be for the whole-of-life experience, with young children, blends of families, and older children coming back,” says Michael Heenan, chief executive officer and principal (design) of architects Allen Jack + Cottier.

For smaller children, one of the most critical elements is having an inviting, fun outdoor space to encourage them to go outside, where they can play on the grass, in a sandpit, on swings or even plant a tree and watch it grow.

“We’re always encouraging people to have less house space and more garden,” says Shaun Carter, principal architect of Carter Williamson. “In an urban landscape, children need to go outside and interact with the natural environment.”


In an urban landscape, children need to go outside and interact with the natural environment.

Shaun Carter, principal architect of Carter Williamson 

Gardens that are safe and that encourage children to play outside are highly coveted. Photo: Supplied

Adults obviously also enjoy al-fresco terraces, but the important thing is to make sure kids outside – especially if there’s a pool – can be seen from internal living areas, so parents don’t have to sit out to watch them.

“They should be able to be observed from the kitchen and living areas so adults can easily supervise them,” says Phillip Rossington, principal of architects BVN.

Safety is always a priority but you can always include a smidgeon of danger to teach youngsters how to deal with risk, suggest some design experts. 

“For instance, you can have a verandah 950 millimetres off the ground without a safety rail so it won’t hurt to fall off but will help children learn how to look after their own safety,” says Carter. 

Architects continue to debate the ideal size of a child’s bedroom. Photo: Supplied 

Bedroom size and design is perhaps even more controversial. While some project homes these days are offering “princess packs” – large girls’ bedrooms with walk-in wardrobes and en suites – Matthew Pullinger, director of his eponymous architectural firm, has moved in the opposite direction.

“Every family has its own set of values and in mine, we consciously decided to teach our children to share. My daughters share a bedroom and we have only one family bathroom, and no parents’ retreat. Our house has big communal areas to bring the family together.”

Carter agrees that bedrooms shouldn’t be over-sized, with the extra space given to living areas in the rest of the house. Study, for example, should be done around the kitchen bench where parents can interact with, and supervise, kids. 

A large island bench can be a great spot for the family to gather as they work or cook. Photo: Supplied 

Fun features to spark the imagination of small children should also be included. Carter likes to play with scale, for example setting child-sized doors into bigger doors.

“Or you can have little windows at their height as well as tall spaces that seem to reach the sky,” he says.

Three homes to try

74 Mactier Street, Narrabeen 

Photo: Supplied

There are plenty of entertaining areas to choose between at this four-bedroom home, with an open-plan design that lends itself to family living.

Being near Narrabeen Lake also offers plenty of opportunities for shared adventures such as kayaking, swimming and hiking the trails. 

Photo: Supplied

Raine & Horne Dee Why-Collaroy agent Lachlan Yeates advises on a $3 million price guide ahead of the October 13 auction.

17 Albert Road, Avalon Beach

Photo: Supplied

This three-bedder has a leafy, level backyard that’s visible from the living area, dining room and kitchen, thanks to a sweeping bank of glass doors and windows.

The island bench in the kitchen is perfect for keen cooks and kids doing their homework.

Photo: Supplied

Belle Property’s Gregg Griffin is leading the home to an October 13 auction. 

46 Crystal Street, Petersham 

Photo: Supplied

Nestled within close distance of Petersham, Stanmore and Leichhardt villages, this freestanding terrace has looks and functionality. 

The interiors and al fresco areas are low maintenance and stress free, and the residence’s c1895 heritage is a charming bonus. 

Photo: Supplied

It’ll go under the hammer on October 20 through Brett Ramsay of The Agency Inner West.








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