From Traditional to Contemporary: The 120-Year Evolution of Our Federation Home Designs

The Federation design and architecture of Australian homes remain timeless, despite first coming into fashion in the early 1900s! Back then, the Federation home style drew upon elements of European architectural design with embellishments of Art Noveux and was designed to embrace the outdoor lifestyle of the Australian people. 

Nowadays, modern Federation home designs still draw upon those classic features – beautiful decorative motifs, gable rooves, and charming character – but are combined with a contemporary home layout to suit today’s lifestyle. 

There’s a reason why Plunkett Homes have embraced this home style for 120 years! Mixing tradition with contemporary design, our Federation homes are always in favour, delivering modern living steeped in Australian history.

The Federation Era

The Federation architectural period evolved in Australia at the turn of the century when, in 1901, the colonies of Australia collectively became the Commonwealth of Australia. This period overlapped with the Edwardian period, which is why you will often see the terms “Federation” and “Edwardian” used interchangeably when describing this particular home design style. Unsurprisingly, the design elements of Federation architecture had antecedents in the Queen Anne style and Edwardian style of the United Kingdom, with other influences from the Arts and Crafts style and the native Australian environment.

When describing the look of a Federation home, a few features most commonly stand out. Namely, a large verandah for that quintessential Aussie indoor/outdoor lifestyle, gable rooves and ornate eaves, fretwork and decorative timber features, chimneys and fireplaces, stained glass, bay windows and an earthy colour palette. 

Plunkett Homes were instrumental in this design style during the Federation era, with many of the original Federation-style homes being built by the company at that time. 

The traditional elements of the Federation-era home are still being used by us in our modern home styles today. The classic, elegant styling and nostalgia it evokes give a timelessness that will never go out of style, even in the year 2023. 

Evolution of Federation Design

When Federation homes first came into prominence in the early 1900s, they were typically built in red brick or weatherboards. Inside, the home was welcoming and cosy, boasting rich colours alongside light and airy neutrals and mahogany timbers. By the time of the first world war around 1915, the cost of houses was reduced and so too was some of the ornate decor that made these homes so distinctive. During this time, Federation homes became known as “Bungalows”. Then, in the early 1990s the Federation Revival came along, with many of those traditional design elements of early 1900 Federation homes coming back into fashion. 

Over the years, the Federation home has evolved to coincide with the changes of the 21st century. Like a classic black dress, the foundation remains the same – timeless, elegant, iconic – but modern elements have been included to dress it up with home design trends that fit this contemporary age.

Incorporating traditional style with contemporary home design is what Plunkett Homes does best. If you visit Mount Lawley and Highgate in WA, you will see unique examples of this throughout. The style finds itself in good company in the older suburbs of Perth, including Subiaco and Fremantle where you can see those key characteristics including the prominent front verandah, weatherboard cladding, render or face brickwork, gable rooves and decorative timber features. 

For new built contemporary homes where the design is very modern, elements of the Federation era can be brought in to create a match made in heaven. If you do desire to incorporate the style into your next home build, you can achieve it with the additions of architraves, skirting and wall panelling along with simple colour palettes with the use of whites and creams contrasted by dark hardwood and modern finishes. 

Modernizing the Federation Home Design

120 years later, the Federation-style home is still as popular in Australia now as it was back then. And no wonder! It’s the perfect home design for the Aussie lifestyle and instantly adds charm to your neighbourhood. 

Plunkett Homes‘ range of Federation designs can be customised to suit different block sizes and lifestyles. They can range from a width of just 6m to a grand 32m, giving homeowners an array of options to choose from.

Take our client story featuring Eric and Leonie. The couple were seeking to build a Federation-style home as it reflected their adventurous and outdoorsy lifestyle. Plunkett Homes got to work, drawing inspiration from the couples’ brief and delivering on their dream consisting of a spacious, wrap-around verandah, a high-pitched gabled roof, and two French doors creating a welcoming entrance. Inside, tradition was mixed with the new featuring a spacious entryway with stone-look tiles, an open-plan kitchen, white granite countertops and rustic accents such as stone, mahogany and burnt orange. 

Federation homes have always been a popular choice for homebuilders because of their ability to seamlessly blend with contemporary, modern home features. This is why it’s one of the best traditional home styles to modernise and keep up to date with today’s trends. Being versatile, Plunkett Homes’ styles can be adapted to the client’s needs and wishes. We’ve created Federation Homes that fit the modern way of living but still hold onto that unique charm of yesteryear. Whether single or double storey, on a small block or acreage, you simply cannot go wrong with a Federation home.

Why Build Your First Home In Federation Style

The Federation home has been a long-time love affair among Australians. It’s hard to go past the intricate detail of its architecture and the many design elements that add to its distinctiveness. It really is a home design style that is steeped in Australian history and is still relevant and popular among homebuyers and builders to this day, 120 years later.

Plunkett Homes is proud to be a part of this great history and are committed to preserving the traditional elements of Federation design while incorporating contemporary features to create homes that are both timeless and practical.

At Plunkett Homes, our friendly team can customise any design you have in mind, ensuring your needs are met regardless of your unique lifestyle and goals.

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