The days are long gone when ‘indoor greenery’ referred to a sad, thirsty-looking house plant languishing in the corner of the room. Today’s interior foliage is super-stylish and bursting with natural vitality.
From giant tropical specimens, to micro-sized succulents, we’re finding places to add a thriving plant or two. Or three, or four.
In some cases, we’re creating whole indoor gardens, with internal courtyards another an invitation to bridge the gap between house and garden.
Yes, pot plants are on trend. And for good reason too.
Here are 7 of our favourite reasons to bring a little plant life into your home life.
- Indoor plants boost our mood
Who knew a simple plant had such stress-busting powers? When the days feel a little on the grey side, some indoor greenery can help lift our spirits, connecting us to nature and transporting us to far-flung corners of the globe. From relaxing island paradise, to soothing rain forest, plants can help generate feelings of calm, relaxation and happiness. House plants are said to be great for concentration and productivity too.
2. Plants are all over Pinterest
Pot plants are on-trend. Whether it’s a simple collection of fresh herbs in pots in a kitchen, the sculptural green leaves of a monstera against crisp white walls, a tiny echeveria in a cute pot perched on the side of the bath or a romantic tumble of devil’s ivy down the side of the bookcase, there’s greenery for every room in the house.
- Pot plants bring the outside inside
Modern homes are designed with indoor/outdoor living in mind, so why not accessorize with foliage to make the transition as seamless as possible?
- Plants are said to improve air quality
Often described as natural air purifiers, certain plants are said to be useful in reducing toxins in the air, increasing humidity and producing oxygen. Those in the know say the bigger and leafier the plant, the better.
- There’s a pot plant to suit any style
From casual beach-house to country hideaway, there’s a choice of plants to suit every style of home and homeowner. Grouping plants is a great way to add extra impact. Individual plants – large or small – can really shine when given their own space. Choosing pots that complement your decorating style will help keep your plant choices looking fresh and stylish.
- Easy-maintenance options
You don’t need a green thumb to nurture an indoor garden. Selecting the right plant for the right spot is half the battle. The other half is not overwatering your new green buddy. There are plenty of hardy, low-maintenance choices if you don’t think you’re responsible enough yet for the more temperamental specimens. And don’t overlook the humble cacti. They can always be relied on to survive even the most neglectful of treatment.
- Instant transformation
Decorating with plants can be an easy and cost-effective way to add instant style and personality to any room, softening any edges and making the space look alive and lived in.
With recent events forcing us to rethink our options for dining out, it seems the dinner party is being welcomed back with open arms.
From guest lists and table decorations, to tantalising hors d’oeuvres and trendy cocktails, we’re planning and prepping dining experiences at the hottest restaurant in town – Our Place.
Whether it’s a special occasion feast with the family, or a sit-down culinary extravaganza with friends, the dinner party is an invitation to dress up and catch-up.
Food, drink and sparkling conversation have long been the hallmarks of a great dinner party, but we think there are three more ingredients that deserve a special mention.
The dining space
Room for a generous dining table is becoming more of a priority in anticipation of sit-down gatherings large and small. If you’re expecting a full house, don’t forget that open-plan living and dining spaces usually allow you to ‘borrow’ space to extend the table, or to pull up a few extra seats if you need to. An open-plan layout also allows the in-house chef to stay connected to their guests, joining in the chat while they keep the food and wine flowing from the kitchen. After all, you don’t want to miss your own dinner party.
How you decorate your dining table – and even the dining space – will depend on the vibe you’re going for, whether it’s fun and funky with an eclectic mix of crockery and glassware, for example, or super-sophisticated with matching china and crisp linen napkins. The right lighting will add ambience, as will a thoughtful playlist, while fresh flowers and candles will help ensure your table is dressed to impress.
Many top-rated restaurants have an open-style kitchen where diners can watch the chefs at work, so there’s no need to be shy when it comes to cooking for your guests. You might even want to position the cooktop in your new kitchen so that you’re facing your guests, bumping up that ‘master chef’ factor. With as much of the prep work as possible done in advance, you can really show off your culinary skills on the night.
Plenty of benchtop makes plating up a breeze, while a scullery helps keep the washing up out of sight as you clear the table ready for the next course. A well-organised scullery with lots of storage and preparation space will also help keep you on track as you work through your shopping list and tick off those make-ahead dishes in the days leading up to your dinner party.
Mojito? Espresso martini? Manhattan? When your guests arrive, why not set the scene with cocktails from the bar? Add ‘mixologist’ to your dinner party credentials by mastering a few iconic cocktails. If you have an IT zone or study nook in your living area, this could be turned into the ideal drinks station. Setting aside a dedicated space for drinks is both practical and adds to the ambience and sense of occasion. A vintage drinks trolley also fits the bill and is totally on-trend.
At the end of the day, a dinner party is an opportunity to catch up with the people you want to spend time with.
So, what’s our number one tip?
Focus on minimising the stress and maximising the fun!
Did you know the saying “home is where the heart is” is an adaptation of the phrase “home is where the hearth is”?
From cooking over an open flame to heating water for that end-of-the week bath, the fireplace truly was the focal point – the heart – of the homes of yesteryear.
Fast forward many, many decades and nothing symbolises cosiness, relaxation and home comforts quite like a real fire.
Or is it real?
Gas log fires have added the choice of convenience if we want all the ambience of a real fire without actually having a real fire.
Needless to say, wood heaters and gas log fires both have their pros and cons.
So how do you decide which is right for you?
Here are 5 questions to help the thought process if you’re planning to add the ambience of flickering flames to your new home.
- Do I want touch-of-a-button convenience?
If you’re out for much of the day you may not want to go to the trouble of lighting a wood burner when you get home, preferring instead the instant response of a gas fire. Gas fires usually come with heat settings and the option of a remote control, so you can easily dial the heat up or down. Wood heaters need regular feeding, plus there’s the sourcing and storing of wood to consider. Wood fires also need regular cleaning and generally generate more mess than their super-clean gas counterparts.
- What sort of style am I after?
Both wood burners and gas log fires come in a range of styles, with freestanding models in particularly suiting today’s rustic or industrial-inspired décor trends. Many argue there’s a romance associated with a real fire and say you can’t beat the smell and crackle-pop of a real wood fire to add ambience on a cold winter’s evening. As well as freestanding options, there are also built-in options to suit everything from a rustic wall in brick or stone, to a traditional fire surround with an elegant timber mantlepiece. Wood burners and log fires have different installation requirements, so if you’re building a new home talk to your builder early on in the design phase.
- How much do I want to spend?
As a rule of thumb, a gas log fire can cost more to buy than a wood burner, but much depends on the make, model and style you’re after. There will also be installation costs, whichever option you go for. Then there’s the on-going running costs. Gas fires contribute to your gas bill, while wood burners require a source of suitable wood, which you’ll need to buy if you can’t source it for free.
- How warm is warm?
While wood burners and gas log fires give off different types of heat, what’s important is the size of the fire and its heat output in relation to the size of the room. Wood burners are generally thought of as a better option to heat larger volumes of space, such as rooms with high or raking ceilings, as they can offer a larger heating capacity. But some people argue a room just feels warmer and cosier when it features the glow of a flickering flame, even if the heat output isn’t huge.
- What about the eco factor?
Much has been argued about wood burners v gas log fires and both have their advantages and disadvantages in terms of environmental impact. Chatting to a firm that specialises in heating options will help you find the fire that best suits your needs and your priorities.
The COVID-19 pandemic and government stimulus packages have increased the variety of people opting for a tree change, with Western Australians from all demographics giving thought to a move to the countryside. Read more of the New Homes article here.
Taking advantage of the tranquil landscape of Chidlow, this custom build expresses an Australian feel and is the epitome of country living. Read more about the custom home in New Homes here.
If you’re planning to build in the Perth Hills, the South West or any other of WA’s fabulous rural locations, chances are you’ve come across one or two farmhouse designs in your search for that perfect plan.
Farmhouse designs are synonymous with rolling countryside, the great outdoors and, for many people, a relaxed, casual lifestyle. The sort of get-away-from-it-all escape we associate with life outside the city and the suburbs.
There are probably views to capture, guests to welcome and long lazy weekends to look forward to.
To help you in your search for your perfect farmhouse, we’ve picked three bestselling designs from our Farmhouse Range.
They’re all quite different, but they’re also all timeless farmhouse designs ideally suited to country living.
Look out for the following features that help define farmhouse style:
- Wide frontages ideal for making the most of a big block.
- Verandas and timber decks, with year-round options for outdoor entertaining.
- A grand living space, often with classic country features such as timber beams and bush poles, a feature fireplace and soaring ceilings.
- Big windows to capture as much of the view as possible, often with raking windows and glass sliding doors to the front and to the rear.
- High ceilings, letting light flood in, and enhancing the feeling of space and volume.
- A generous kitchen, with ample storage and preparation space, often with a larder or scullery.
- Spaces to enjoy in tune with the seasons, from cosy winter sitting rooms to shady summer verandas.
Whether you’ve got your sights set on a sprawling multi-acre block, are settling in a semi-rural area, or are simply looking for a taste of the country on a corner lot in the suburbs, could one of these bestsellers be the starting point for your own bespoke farmhouse?
You could say this is where it all began for the Rural Building Company. A prime example of the quintessential country home, the Argyle takes us back to our roots.
Like all Rural Building Company designs the Argyle suits just about any country block you care to find, even tricky terrain such as a sloping site or a site with challenging soil conditions.
Big windows, expansive outdoor areas and natural materials provide that all-important harmony with the surrounding environment. Think bush poles, vast timber beams, soaring ceilings, big verandas, and lots and lots of glass.
Designed to suit a block with a minimum width of 34m, this classic farmhouse design delivers a mighty 371sqm of home, including summer and winter living areas, kitchen with scullery, office, home theatre and activity room.
We took the Argyle and blended it with another of our bestsellers, the Karridale Retreat, to create the Karroo. Adding feature stone into the mix gave this country hideaway an extra layer of rural romance.
High raking ceilings, big windows, bush poles and a colour palette of natural neutrals echo the beauty of the surrounding landscape.
Suiting a minimum block width of 28m, the Karroo delivers 317sqm of home, including four bedrooms, freeform living area, kitchen with scullery, alfresco, activity room and retreat.
The Evolution Farmhouse
Proving that farmhouse designs don’t have to be traditional, the award-winning Evolution Farmhouse brings edgy contemporary style to the country.
With its wide, modern façade, featuring strong lines and organic materials, this excitingly different farmhouse combines the essence of rural living with touches of warehouse chic.
Designed for a 28.5m wide lot, the Evolution Farmhouse delivers 329sqm of home, including four bedrooms, double-sized alfresco, activity room, study, home theatre and extensive verandah.
When you’re thinking about building a new home, chances are you’ll naturally gravitate towards either single-storey designs or two-storey designs. But there is another option.
The loft home.
Loft homes don’t often get the attention they deserve, but they’re a great choice for all sorts of locations, from the country and the coast, to a brand new estate close to the city.
So what exactly is a loft home?
A loft design makes use of a steeply-pitched roof, allowing an upstairs living or bedroom area to be constructed within the roof space. The ceilings usually mirror the slope of the roof, adding interest to the room.
Depending on the size and shape of the loft area, the space can be left open as a mezzanine floor, or enclosed to make it quieter and more private. Keeping it open, however, helps light flow between upstairs and downstairs. It also makes more of a feature of the design, with voids and interestingly-shaped ceilings.
Can you show me?
When we were drawing up plans for our Kalgup Retreat display home in Dunsborough, we realised we had the perfect opportunity to showcase a loft design.
Flexibility is one of the key features of the home, so we decided to make it extra flexible by adding in an optional mezzanine level. You choose whether you want to build the home as a single-storey or as a loft design.
Perfect for rural locations, the home can also be easily adapted to fit a suburban block. The layout can also be altered to work with just about any orientation.
After finalising the design of our showcase loft home, we layered in natural materials. Timber became one of the highlights, with timber flooring, bush poles inside and out, timber cladding to the island bench and vast timber beams to the alfresco.
A double-sided fireplace accentuates the cosy country vibe in the living area and the adjoining relax room, and the heart-of-the-home kitchen features a well-fitted scullery with lots of extra bench space and storage.
There’s room for an eight-seater table in the dining room, while the combination of raking ceilings and huge expanses of glass encourages views forever.
But what about upstairs?
Upstairs is where the design gets a little different. Using the roof space, we designed a light and airy studio with adjoining library. The library has been kept open, making use of the void to give the space the feel of a ‘floating’ gallery. Glass balustrading offers a clear view down to the ground floor.
The studio itself is a great size and ideal as an extra bedroom space, activity room or home office.
The Kalgup Retreat is just one of the designs in our Loft Range. Take the tour of this popular display home and we’re sure you’ll agree with our 7 top reasons to build a loft home.
- The views are even better upstairs.
- There’s the extra living, activity or bedroom space you need.
- Loft designs create interesting interior design features.
- Using the roof space has the potential to save you money compared to a traditional two-storey design.
- The height adds to the wow-factor street appeal, setting loft designs apart from the long, low homesteads often associated with country living.
- Loft designs offer a smaller footprint, giving you more garden space. This could be important on a suburban block or small block. Loft designs are also a good choice for blocks with a steep slope.
- There’s a welcome sense of separation if you need it, with kids, work or guests enjoying their own space on the upper level.
Keen to experience more of the Kalgup Retreat? This Dunsborough display home is open to view on Saturdays, Sundays and Wednesdays.
There is no better time to build a home in Western Australia with historically low interest rates and a range of Federal and State government incentives available, making building a home a lot more affordable. The process can take months, so you will need to act fast to secure your house and land before 31 December 2020!
Whether you’re an upgrader needing more space, looking for the perfect family home, or a downsizer looking for less maintenance, there is no better time to build a new home than now.
STEP ONE: FINANCE ELIGIBILITY
Speak to a mortgage broker about your borrowing capacity and eligibility for HomeBuilder, the Building Bonus Grant and First Home Owner Grants. Make sure you are in a good financial position and have a deposit to secure finance. A qualified broker can write you a letter of eligibility that provides the land developer and builder confidence in your financial position, or you may choose to seek pre-approval from a bank. The Letter of Eligibility can be prepared within 24-48 hours however pre-approval can take 2-3 weeks.
STEP TWO: SECURE LAND
Find and secure your land in the location of your choice! Whether it be a rural or suburban lot, we recommend signing your land contract before getting started on the design process.
STEP THREE: CHOOSE YOUR HOME DESIGN
Once you have secured your land, you can browse our range of home designs to choose a design that suits you (to qualify for HomeBuilder, the value of the house and land together must not exceed $750,000). You will sign a Preliminary Plans Agreement (PPA) allowing us to commence working on your home design. The PPA can be done almost instantly- same as a land contract.
STEP FOUR: SIGN THE BUILDING CONTRACT
Once you have signed your PPA, we will commence your working drawings and commence preparing your building contract. Before you sign the building contract your land needs to have a site survey done and an engineer’s site report completed. Then working drawings for your new home can be drafted and then lastly you can sign the building contract.
Note: It is important to know that to be eligible for HomeBuilder you must sign the building contract before 31 December 2020. So make sure you have gone through steps 1-4 before 30 October 2020. It can take up to 12 weeks from the PPA being signed (usually 6-10) for you to sign the building contract.
STEP FIVE: FINANCE APPROVAL
Once you have your signed building contract and your prestart variations are finalised, both your building and land contracts are lodged with your bank or broker to arrange unconditional finance approval for your home loan This generally takes 2-6 weeks to be processed.
STEP SIX: SETTLE ON YOUR LAND
Once you have received your unconditional finance approval, you will then prepare to settle on the land. Land settlement will usually occur 4 weeks from final formal date.
STEP SEVEN: SLAB DOWN PREPARATION
Once you have signed your building contract, received unconditional finance approval and settled on the land, we will apply for a Building Permit from the Local Council. They may also need to seek design approval from the land developer (if applicable), or apply for additional approvals from your local council to accommodate your proposed design. Once this is all complete the slab can be poured and construction of your new home can commence.
Note: Construction must start within three months of signing the Building Contract.
GOVERNMENT GRANTS AVAILABLE
The Federal Government has announced a HomeBuilder package, a $25,000 grant available to eligible owner-occupiers who build a new home from 4 June until 31 December 2020.
In addition to the Federal Government grant, the State Government announced a $20,000 Building Bonus grant or new home builds until the end of the year. This grant will be available on top of the Federal Government’s $25,000 HomeBuilder Grant, as well as WA’s $10,000 First Home Owner Grant. If you qualify for all of these grants, you could access $55,000 in Government Assistance.
There’s never been a better time to begin your new home building journey! Speak to one of our local Building and Design Consultants and find out how you can take advantage of the Federal and State Government grants today.
Building a new home on a sloping block doesn’t faze us, but we can understand why it might cause some homebuyers to think twice. But why reject a fabulous block if you don’t need to? Why say no to views or a prime location just because the land isn’t level?
Sure, sloping blocks have the potential to throw up an extra challenge or two, but they can be well worth the extra effort. You could be perched on the dunes capturing sea breezes and ocean views forever. Or nestled into the side of a hill with vineyard views as far as the eye can see. Or balanced high above a valley, looking out across pristine countryside.
Or you could simply be dealing with an uneven site that’s too costly to flatten. If you’ve found a perfect block but it’s not flat and that worries you, then we understand. Here are a few things to know about building on a sloping block that should put your mind at rest so you can secure that once-in-a-lifetime plot of land with confidence:
Getting the lay of the land
First up, we offer a free site assessment. We’ll come out and weigh up the sites challenges and opportunities so you know exactly what you’re dealing with. Factors such as the gradient of the slope, the orientation of the block and the soil type will all be evaluated as part of the visit. It won’t cost you a cent, but it’ll arm you with invaluable information about what sort of design might work best and if there are any specific site challenges that need to be addressed.
Designs and what to look for
Check out designs that can be easily adapted for a sloping site so you can get a good feel for what’s possible. Not only will you get some great ideas, but it’ll give you a starting point in terms of layout, the size of home you’re looking for and features such as raking ceilings and walls of glass to take in your surroundings. Homes that can be built on poles, stumps or stilts are good options as the heights can be adjusted to take into account the site’s changing levels.
Working with a builder that already has a choice of slope-friendly designs means you won’t have to start from scratch if you don’t want to. You may well find a design that already fits the bill. You’ll also find a range of style choices, with options for contemporary homes as well as more traditional looks. You might want to explore our Views Range or our Farmhouse Range to get some initial ideas.
If building on a sloping block offers an uninterrupted outlook, puts you in the heart of bushland or gets you close to the coast, for example, then you’ll probably want big windows to soak up the view. A big deck is often another prerequisite when you have an elevated position. Rather than cutting into the slope, which would increase your site costs, the deck could be built on stilts, poles or stumps.
Split the distance
Split-level designs, or staggered designs, are another good option for a sloping site because they work with the land’s natural gradient and have lots of character too. There are endless variations, but common layouts include a garage, activity room and laundry on the lower level, with living areas and bedrooms above. A single change in level within the home is a great way to accommodate a gradual slope, but designs can incorporate several changes to effectively ‘hug’ the contours of the land over a steeper drop.
Unlike a perfectly flat block in a new development, the chances are your sloping block is unique so you might want a bespoke design to really show off its fabulous shape. A one-off design might also prove to be the answer if there are some site-specific challenges that need to be overcome. It’s worth noting that custom design doesn’t have to cost more, and an experienced rural home builder will always have your overall budget in mind when coming up with a concept for your one-off new home.
Building techniques to suit
Avoiding unnecessary – and expensive – excavation is crucial if you want to keep build costs manageable on a sloping block and there are proven ways of doing this. Framed homes, for example, are a great option because the construction technique is lightweight and provides for huge design flexibility. Framed homes typically combine a frame made of timber or steel with cladding such as weatherboards, brick veneer, timber, corrugated steel or painted fibre cement sheeting. They are a great match for a sloping site. Incorporating poles or stumps into the design means you don’t have to excavate such a large area of land to get a flat building platform. They can also become interesting design features, giving your sloping-block home an added sense of height and elevation.
Look for a builder experienced in building on a sloping site as they will understand that there’s more to building on this sort of terrain then meets the eye. A sloping block usually means extra considerations in terms of drainage, services and soil conditions, as well as building and planning compliance, but this will be nothing new for a builder that has already built thousands of rural homes.
Contact us today to find out more about building on a sloping block.