The evolution of outdoor living

23 Sep 2020

Humphrey Homes Mosman Park architect residence

The humble backyard has always been a mainstay amongst Western Australian homes – a place for the family to spend time together while enjoying our state’s predominantly beautiful weather.

While lot sizes have shrunk over time, and backyards with them, our love of outdoor connection has remained, inspiring homeowners and homebuilders alike to be creative with their design.

“Good outdoor spaces operate on the design principles of orientation, light, ventilation and usability,” Humphrey Homes Owner and Director Dean Humphrey said.

“If you can achieve those in unison, then the space will work.”

The main consideration is to not rob light from other parts of the home, so positioning of the outdoor space is important, according to Mr Humphrey.

“Correct positioning and orientation will maximise cross ventilation, solar principles and natural light,” he said.

Mr Humphrey also pointed out that outdoor living areas didn’t necessarily have to be in the form of a backyard.

“Outdoor spaces traditionally were placed at the back of the home, but this is an outdated model,” he said.

“As a custom architect and builder, the majority of our homes have a central connective space as a feature room.

“Our clients tell us central courtyards maximise flexible living options and improve functionality.

“We advocate for strong outdoor principles in every design, and central courtyards are very much part of that mix because they offer so many benefits – increased connectivity to multiple rooms, stronger visual permeability and better thermal principles because they can let northern light into rooms which otherwise wouldn’t receive it.”

Mr Humphrey said this synergy between indoors and out was very important, and was helped by engaging a landscape designer early on.

“For our clients we have meetings between our architect, interior designer and landscape designer,” he said. “It’s also good to be aware that good ideas often result as things progress.

“You don’t need to lock in every single detail or material before starting.”

Mr Humphrey said it paid to think outside the box when designing an outdoor space.

“A neighbour’s large 4m wall can be turned into a vertical garden or you can turn a narrow walkway into a timber arbour,” he said.

“Rather than having a dedicated backyard, dividing this space into multiple green spaces and inserting these into the floor plan in different locations will break up mass and create a more open feel to the home, allowing in natural light and ventilation through considered placement of openings," he said.

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A version of this story first appeared in The West Australian's New Homes liftout on September 19, 2020.