Why 99% of homes designed today are not as functionally simple as they could be

Why 99% of homes designed today are not as functionally simple as they could be


There’s always something new right? A carrot dangling out in front of us tempting us to pull out our credit card so we keep up with the Jones’. Maybe something shiny and new or maybe something conservative and useful. In any case many of us have a keen eye for what is we want or need and we start planning how it is we’re going to get it.

The housing industry is no different. There are new systems, practices and products to find everyday. Some just convenient and cool, some highly functional and beneficial in some way. But this is nothing new is it. Innovation is not a constant. When did it start? Who knows. When will it end? Never.

From a home design point-of-view we’ve moved through some pretty significant changes decade on decade. Going back tho the 80’s it was the emergence of ‘size’. Homes got bigger in general and we created more spacious internal environments with combined kitchen, living and dining areas.

The 90’s was all about the extras and ‘add ons’… Spa baths, intercoms, ducted vacuums, external jacuzzis, cinema rooms and rumpus rooms. In most cases, this is all just ‘stuff’ that didn’t really add much value to the home nor our lives day-to-day. The main reason was to tell friend’s at a BBQ what you had that they didn’t.

The early 2000’s, or naughties, was about technology and efficiency. Climate change was identified and we looked to more sustainable, passive solar homes. PV Solar power became government funded and lighting changed from incandescent or halogen to fluorescent or early model LED. Much of Australia also suffered through a drought, putting both rain water harvesting and water savings fixtures high on the agenda.  Security systems, intercoms and home automation systems also became more prevalent in this era, albeit quite clunky and complex.

Since then to now we have figured out that we don’t need to re-invent the wheel and because of this something great is happening…

We’ve taken our learnings from the 80’s and kept open plan living, but also identified that we don’t necessarily need to build mansions. We identified the most functional and useful innovations from the 90’s and looked to introduce them into our everyday rooms creating more diverse, multi-functional spaces. We’ve also had time to see what works and what doesn’t in efficient and sustainable home design and been able to tailor to our requirements or budgets.

And technology has too evolved. LED lighting is now reliable and affordable. Windows, blinds and awnings can be remotely controlled to maximise the way we use the sun’s rays. Security systems, intercoms and audio-visual equipment can now be integrated into singular systems. And of course, we have in WiFi. Solar power is now almost a fundamental in home design and the emergence on battery storage systems seems to be the final chapter in creating ultimately efficient and sustainable buildings. 

So what’s next for home design?


Homes that are sustainable, efficient, convenient, safe, enjoyable – Whatever it is that’s important to you, but above all simple to use. Easy statement to make right when there’s more systems, practices and products than ever right? So how do we introduce simplicity to our homes in a time of innovation, advanced technology and complexity. Well there’s two really easy ways to do so:

• Disengage from systems, products and technology altogether. Live in a minimalist hut heated by a wood fire, cook on a gas burner, wash your clothes in a bucket and contact someone by carrier pigeon. Or,

• Embrace innovation and the technology created by some great minds and make it simple to use. If you need to ‘use’ it at all.

For something to be simple to use this means it’s not arduous, not complicated, not problematic. To make REAL simple… Make it so you don’t even need to use it all all. It’s not rocket science either, it’s a simple 3-step process.

1. Gather INTELLIGENCE on whats happening in a home: Climate, sun position, occupancy, time of day.

2. Use this information to create INTUITIVE, automated responses or actions: Turn of heating, close the blinds, lock the doors, turn off lights.

3. Create INTEGRATED systems so it all works together to give an ultimate result: Heat home, Make home safe, Put home to sleep.

Using amazing technology to create INTELLIGENT, INTUITIVE, INTEGRATED homes that do everything we need and want but in a way that is the most simple to live with. Don’t believe me? Think about the smart phone you own. You may even be reading this on it right now. Does it gather data based on time, whether or usage? Does it auto-update software and predicts the time it takes to drive home? Does it link email, calendars and apps to make things like scheduling easier?

So tell me is it arduous, complicated and problematic or do you find life more simple now this is all in the palm of your hand? This is now all too easy in our home, the place we live the majority of our life.

To learn more about the design of more functional homes visit the Home Page and download the first chapter of Sam’s new book Homes With A Heartbeat: The step-by-step process to achieving a highly functional and smart home