Blog post

How we make Country contemporary

5 October 2017

Experience has taught us a thing or two about how we like to live in our homes here in WA.

Just look at how the traditional Australian homestead has changed over the years since Thomas Scott Plunkett built his first homes in Perth in 1903. The traditional redbrick design classic is still in demand, but now there’s a new breed of farmhouse to tempt those in search of country comfort. It still has the purity and simplicity we’ve always loved about the classic old homestead, but it’s totally in tune with modern Australian living. 

 

With its fresh white walls, stonework and high-pitched roofline, the modern farmhouse sums up everything we love about a rural lifestyle, while meeting the demands of today’s busy family. Yes, there will always be a place in our hearts for traditional country-collection designs such as the Southampton, but designs such as the Colorado are appealing to a new breed of buyers in search of a country retreat.

It’s the setting that’s generally the starting point for one of our farmhouse or homestead designs. If someone is choosing a block of land for the lifestyle it offers them, then it’s our job as designer and builder to complement that setting, not to reinvent it. From views across a valley, to a leafy parkland outlook, it’s about connecting with nature on the doorstep.

There’s often an environmental consideration to factor in, too, as many clients building on a rural or semi-rural block are keen to minimise their environmental footprint. They might look at what their house is built from, as well as how it’s built, and they’ll often want to make sure they are keeping their use of resources such as water and power to a minimum.

Whether you’re heading for a quarter acre or more in the Hills, or you’re bringing a bit of the country to the city, its fair to say that this is a style that plays to the emotions. It’s the dream of a rural idyll where we can escape the rat race, and find the peace and serenity we crave.

But emotion is all very well, we hear you say. A verandah out the back and an old rocking chair and all that, but what about the practical day-to-day demands the modern family places on a home? Is it possible to balance the sentimental with the functional?

You bet it is.

Here’s how we make country contemporary, so that it’s perfectly in tune with modern Australian living:

Keeping it simple: What’s not to love about big open-plan spaces where the family can come together? Uncomplicated, with no wasted rooms, the floor plan of a country-inspired home usually features a central living space with sleeping quarters off to each side. Spaces can be designated for specific activities or kept multi-purpose as required. The straightforward floor plan means the home can be pushed and pulled as needed during the design phase. A private sitting room for the grandparents when they come to stay? No problem? An office for the budding entrepreneur? Sure. 

Contemporary kitchen: Here we have the perfect opportunity to marry traditional home style with all the mod cons and latest in kitchen design. A classic U-shaped kitchen works a treat, but a galley-style layout works just as well, with today’s island bench becoming yesterday’s kitchen table or butcher’s block. 

Larder: Country-style homes often encourage a keener focus on living well and enjoying wholesome, organic food. Perhaps there’s even a veggie patch and chooks in the backyard. In days gone by, the larder was certainly the family’s store cupboard, where bottles of homemade pasta sauce were kept, along with ingredients for everything from the Sunday roast to homemade cake for afternoon tea. Today, the larder, scullery or walk-in pantry is just as important, but you’ll probably find the latest kitchen gadgets, mixers and blenders on its shelves. Power sockets mean your labour-saving appliances can be used in situ, not only making life easier in the kitchen, but also keeping the benchtops clutter-free. 

Inside/outside: Living on a lifestyle block is an open invitation to engage with the outdoors. You don’t want to just look at it, you want to throw open the doors and let in the breeze and the birdsong. Capturing views is paramount, with big windows and doors that open up to sweeping verandahs, outdoor decks and entertaining areas that take into account the environment and the season. Just listen to all that peace and quiet.

Eco retreat: The master suite in a modern country home feels a world away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Many take inspiration from South West resorts that blend contemporary bedroom and bathroom design with natural materials for a welcome sense of calm and tranquillity. This is your sanctuary and the rest of the world can wait a while.

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