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Modern Love

Australian home builders are choosing innovative materials and creative designs


Take a drive in some of Perth’s most design-forward suburbs and you’re likely to notice a trend. New builds and renovations alike are breaking the cookie-cutter trend and self-expression is blooming.

Gone are the days when an addition or renovation had to blend seamlessly with the existing building.

Owners of new builds are challenging their draftspeople and architects to use interesting materials and to create striking shapes. It’s all part of Australia’s modern design movement.

Photographer: Ben Proposch

What is Modern Design?

According to James Hardie, increasing numbers of Australians want a home with modern or contemporary design but they just don’t know how to ask for it.

Good modern design is about simplicity and paring back unnecessary details to focus on form and function. As a result, a modern home requires fewer design decisions. But they have to be really good to pull off a striking yet calming, sleek modern home.

Key Feature: Monochrome

One of the things most of these homes have in common is their basic but striking exterior colour palettes.

Black, white and grey are the most common colours used and sometimes you will see pops of other colours and texture introduced as an accent.

Picture: Coast Homes

Key Feature: Edit

Get rid of any unnecessary decoration and embellishment. A good modern design won’t include eaves, and gutters and downpipes will be hidden. The overall result is a sleek but bold look.

Key Feature: Boxy is Best

Get the look by working with boxy shapes. But be warned, while it is all about cutting back on what’s unnecessary, you can’t go creating just one box.

The experts recommend using three main box shapes and offsetting them together in a creative way.

Picture: James Hardie

Key Feature: Flatten it out

A flat roof, or the illusion of one, is crucial to the success of the overall look. Roofs are slanted to allow rain to fall into gutters. So hiding that behind parapet walls helps create the illusion of a flat top. A wide, graceful skillion roof will also help to create a modern feel and these work particularly well when combined with flat areas.

Photographer: Ben Proposch

Picture: James Hardie

Key Feature: Materials

Here’s where things get really interesting. West Australian builders have traditionally focussed heavily on bricks and mortar but steel frame construction and lightweight materials are rapidly gaining popularity.

Using lightweight building materials can sometimes open up more design possibilities and often construction time is reduced.

Alternative building materials also have excellent energy ratings, and are durable and environmentally friendly.

To get the look, considering using at least three different materials for the facade – the idea is to include different surfaces and textures.

Brick is still a great option but it can be paired with weatherboard or modern cladding options.