The way we live has dramatically altered over the past few years.
As a result, we now need our homes to work better than ever before. Clunky floor plans, tired bathrooms and cluttered kitchens are being overhauled in record numbers, and the biggest “design trend” to emerge this year is for homes to operate at optimal capacity.
“Where we were once complacent with the way our home looked or functioned, it’s now so irritating that we need it fixed and updated,” says Melbourne interior decorator Lauren Egan. “The only catch is finding a tradie without a two or three-project wait time!”
Australians want functionality and sanctuary at home, says designer Greg Natale.
“The home as a sanctuary is still essential, with a separation between spaces to work and spaces to relax. We’ve realised how important our own comfort and wellbeing are within that environment.”
It’s a sentiment that is driving the rising popularity of smart home technology as home owners streamline the demands of modern life, says Clipsal by Schneider Electric product manager, Tim Fant.
“When juggling busy work and home lives, every moment counts,” he says. “By automating daily tasks and routines, Australians are realising a smart home can help to optimise and free up precious time, meaning you can spend more time enjoying life with family and friends.”
So, what will the best Australian homes look like in 2022? Domain asked the experts to share their insights.
You would be hard-pressed to find a new build or renovation in 2022 that didn’t include an office or home study space, the experts agree.
“Incorporating designated working spaces within the family home has been the most common request from clients over the past 18 months,” says Sydney interior designer Karen Muller.
“The juggle for families, between homeschooling and the need to conduct business at home, has seen a trend towards flexible floor plans, and moveable walls where one can either segregate or open up a floor plan.”
Alla Delion, principal designer and director at Studiomint in Melbourne, says many of her clients embraced the role of home chef during lockdown and are “spending enormous amounts of money” on new appliances and kitchen upgrades to support the hobby.
“They include things like teppanyaki grills, steam ovens and professional coffee machines so sophisticated you’d need to grow a beard just to operate them,” she jokes.
Greg Natale has also noticed a shift towards practical luxury as his clients invest in high-end pantries and laundries, with one spending $25,000 on a specialty dry-cleaning cupboard.
With a desire to streamline their busy lives, home owners are going one step further in the bid for autonomy, turning to technology for “touch-of-a button” comfort, entertainment and security.
“Smart homes allow comfort, convenience, control and efficiency to co-exist,” says Tim Fant, who points to the Clipsal Wiser™ Smart Home as a great place to start.
The scalable system allows you to control almost every element of your home through an app, growing as the needs of your household expand.
“Imagine being able to dim the lights in the kids’ bedroom at bedtime as you finish the dinner dishes or have the lights and heating kick-in automatically as you arrive home from work,” Fant enthuses. “These are just two of a myriad of possibilities.”
According to Fant, the “all-off” command is most popular, turning household lights and appliances off via a single wall switch, tap of an app or voice activation. Residents can also use the system to keep an eye on their homes from anywhere in the world via the app, changing the lighting for security, checking appliances are turned off, or opening the garage door.
An added bonus of upgrading our homes’ technology is becoming more energy-efficient, says Fant, as products like Clipsal Wiser can switch off appliances and lights when not in use and automatically lower blinds to stave off summer heat.
With our impact on the natural world front of mind, Karen Muller says it’s great to see many within the design world and associated industries working to become more environmentally accountable. Muller lists paint manufacturers ditching chemicals and rugs made using recycled plastics among the shifting tide.
“I love the fact that these companies are working towards a brighter future,” she says. “I believe we will continue to see more of these recycled and repurposed products becoming popular with home decorators in the coming years.”
As a load is taken off through technology and innovation, Australians also want their homes to serve as a place of relaxation and sanctuary from the outside world.
Lauren Egan says extended periods at home have inspired a “tonal shift” away from grey and cooler whites, with warmer, earthy colours – creams, neutral browns and tans – helping home renovators create calming spaces.
Bringing the outside world in, natural tiles and surfaces that have a more organic feel, with rustic or irregular edges and earthy tones, are gaining momentum. And, while light oak remains popular, “richer timbers like walnut and blackbutt are coming into their own,” Egan says.