Downsizing not downgrading

4 Feb 2020

Helen Marchesani Architect Humphrey Homes

Downsizing is common once the kids have left the nest, but that doesn’t mean Perth homeowners are squishing themselves into retirement-style units.

Instead, people are swapping their family-sized dwellings for still-spacious lifestyle homes and booking savings in time spent cleaning, gardening and performing maintenance.

As Humphrey Homes Architect Helen Marchesani put it, smaller does not mean less space for fun.

“Contrary to popular opinion, downsizer homes – when done correctly – can be excellent entertaining homes.” she tsaid. 

“The design is compact yet purposeful, meaning hosting friends or parties is very easy.

“The indoor/outdoor connection can work seamlessly so there are multiple areas to relax or entertain, even when the whole family gathers as one consolidated unit.”

Ms Marchesani said buyers designing a downsized home could implement some lesser-known design tricks to make smaller spaces feel bigger, including installing windows that run to the ground and building rectangular bedrooms instead of square ones.

Forgoing a walk-in wardrobe in all bedrooms and installing sliding wall panels instead of doors also gives homes a spacious feel, according to Ms Marchesani, particularly when paired with common design principles such as clean and consistent colour palettes and home orientation.

Recently behind custom builds in Swanbourne and Cottesloe that sought to maximise space, Ms Marchesani said a good move was to make rooms versatile.

“A large focus should be placed on making the ancillary bedrooms multi-function rooms so they can be used for different functions day-to-day and converted to sleeping quarters when needed,” she said.

“In the case of the Swanbourne residence, the extra bedrooms are used as a sitting and sewing room as well as a study and yoga retreat.”

For those wishing to jump from their space-heavy homes to a better-suited abode, Ms Marchesani pegged orientation as the ‘golden rule’.

She said buyers should be mindful of cross ventilation, prioritise storage and look at ways to capture natural light, including installing skylights or designing a courtyard with plenty of full-height windows and living areas wrapped around it.

“When it comes to moving into a home that is smaller, the main mantra is to use and live with what you love,” Ms Marchesani said.

“That means using the good crystal, the good plates and the good clothes today.

“Get rid of your second sets – the things that people typically save for a special occasion.

“Applying that logic helps you sort out what you really value and therefore what your home should carry.”

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This story first appeared in The West Australian's New Homes liftout on February 2, 2020.