FROM specialty kitchens to wine tasting rooms, luxury homes are constantly evolving to meet the changing needs of homeowners in Perth.
Last year’s Master Builders Australia WA top WA home, the Gran Lusso by Adrian Zorzi Homes, was built specifically to cater for three generations of the clients’ family.
The Georgian-style, three-storey Withcliffe residence is a place for the family to come together over Christmas, Easter and school holidays and segregates bedrooms and bathrooms to create three separate zones.
While it has a magnificent main kitchen and built-in outdoor kitchen with pizza oven and commercial barbecue in the alfresco area, it also has a second “wet” kitchen on the basement level used for making sausages and passata.
While specific personal needs can influence home design, Romano Homes director Peter Romano said technology was also having a major impact on the home building industry.
“Many people are now more aware of design trends from around the globe than they were in years gone by,” he said.
“Where perhaps, in the past, most people took their influences only from the Perth housing market and from project home builders’ display homes, they are now able to have access to a whole host of design options via international design publications online.”
As a result, Mr Romano said today’s homeowners were much more specific about their needs and wants.
“Our clients will now compile electronic scrapbooks of houses from all parts of the world and generally have a better design knowledge prior to coming in to discuss their designs with us,” he said.
“This has seen rise to a more contemporary housing architecture in Perth and a more diverse range of building solutions.”
Kitchens are one area of the home that has seen massive changes over time.
Oswald Homes interior designer Danielle Ellery said while clients might have previously requested a large walk-in pantry with beautiful, fitted storage, they often now wanted a fully equipped butler’s pantry or scullery.
“This second kitchen is where the real cooking and preparation takes place, leaving the main kitchen as the showpiece,” she said.
“We’ve recently designed sculleries complete with features such as a cool room, double sink, range-style oven, and a commercial-style veggie-washing tap, plus lots of storage and bench space for the latest top end gadgets.
“Marble-effect benchtops and splashbacks from Caesarstone’s Super Natural range, oversized fridge/freezers from American brand Sub-Zero, underbench cool drawers, pot fillers above the cooktop, reverse osmosis systems that purify water for cooking, and height-adjustable rangehoods that can be pushed out of the way when not in use are among the other kitchen features we’re being asked to include.”
Mr Romano said kitchens had become larger spaces as a result of people realising that the open plan nature of the modern house was not always ideal.
“Scullery areas extend the size of the kitchen and allow the preparation and resulting mess to be hidden out of sight, and the island bench is then available to use for entertainment and a gathering point,” he said.
The desire to entertain has also seen changes to traditional alfresco areas, with a continued focus on seamless indoor/outdoor entertaining.
“Outdoor living spaces are highly regarded as being as important as internal living spaces and these are incorporated into the design at an early stage so that they can integrate aesthetically with the indoor rooms,” Mr Romano said.
“Large openings are required to open up the views to the outdoor space and slimline or frameless doors are required to blur the separation.”
Mr Romano said Romano Homes was using a wider range of finishes in the homes they designed and built, and this was reflective of the current desire of their clients to express a little bit of warmth within their homes.
“Timber wall panels and three-dimensional Japanese ceramics, along with porcelain tiles, can create a more interesting architecture within the home which adds a finishing touch of luxuriousness,” he said.
“High-performance materials developed in recent years, such as large-format thin porcelain sheets with printed finishes and textures, are replacing the traditional stone materials because they are more durable and require less maintenance than the natural products.”
In conjunction with a more luxe lifestyle, cellars have also evolved and are no longer just places to keep bottles of wine.
Adrian Zorzi managing director Adrian Zorzi said cellars were getting bigger and bigger, with their own airconditioning systems and humidity control.
“Some are now also incorporating humidors and even salumerias (storage for cured meats),” he said.
“This makes a cellar more than just a place to store wine – it becomes a place to go to enjoy drinking your wine, and perhaps your cured meats and cheeses that can be cut and prepared in the room with the wines, or even a cigar.”
Ensuites are also becoming more indulgent and were taking precedence over the main bathroom.
“We’ve also noticed a subtle shift in the way luxury bathrooms, especially ensuites, look and feel,” Mrs Ellery said.
“Huge walk-through showers featuring two rainhead showers as well as two handheld shower fittings are a popular inclusion, as are statement freestanding bathtubs.
“We recently completed a home for clients who wanted to see only their two-person claw-foot bath when looking from their bedroom through to the bathroom – it had a real wow factor.
“Other bathroom features we’re seeing include a handmade chandelier hung above a freestanding bath, metallic finishes such as copper basins or Astra Walker taps in French gold, Flemish copper or aged brass, marble-effect vanity benchtops from Caesarstone, underfloor heating and jet body showers.”
Luxury living and evolving design are not confined to homes; Giorgi Architects and Builders sales and marketing manager Danny Giorgi said luxury apartment buyers also expected quality.
“Buyers tend to be downsizers who have accumulated wealth over the years, have lived in a larger family home, but no longer need the space,” he said.
“They are looking for something more lifestyle-oriented, with a lock-and-leave set up, with two to three bedrooms as a minimum and an emphasis on entertaining spaces, kitchen, dining and living areas.”
When it came to apartment design, Mr Giorgi said the company designed according to their buyer profile, but provided customisation of floor plans, as long as this was not of a structural nature.
“Typically a large kitchen layout, including a scullery and high-end appliances, are a must,” Mr Giorgi said.
“There must be good connection to external entertaining areas, cellars in some instances, and individual ensuites for all bedrooms, including minors, with generous walk-in robes.”
When it came to fittings and fixtures, Mr Giorgi said quality was essential and low-maintenance and longevity in the product was paramount.
All the modern conveniences such as airconditioning, security, video intercoms, and smart wiring were expected.
“All the finishes you would expect in any high-end residence, regardless of whether it is an apartment or home, must be there,” he said.
“This includes stone floors, underfloor heating to ensuites in some instances, fireplaces, and upgraded glazing to reduce external noise.
“People also look for additional car bays, private and secure parking and storage – you want people to feel like they are more in a home rather than in an apartment complex.”
Not everyone is in a position to build a new home and luxury trends are also extending into the renovation market.
Addstyle Master Builders managing director Dominique Travers said property owners were investing more in their kitchens than ever before.
“They are opting for functionality as well as high-end finishes,” she said.
“Induction cooktops, steam ovens, coffee machines, wine fridges and whisper-quiet extraction fans have been added to the list of ‘must-have’ appliances, and all are integrated.”
Ms Travers said luxury finishes could also be achieved on a budget, with clever blending of mainstream and investment items.
“A plain white kitchen becomes a masterpiece with the inclusion of a slab of high-end stone or marble, or architectural lighting,” she said.
“Caesarstone has released some fabulous concrete and marble-look stones that give a five-star finish without the price tag one might expect.”
Natural materials remained popular when renovating.
“There have been some incredible advancements in the quality and offerings of composite counterparts,” Ms Travers said.
“Ceramic wood tiling, for example, is very popular and incredibly beautiful as well as versatile – the warmth of wood meets the durability of ceramic and we are now taking it beyond the living room floor and up onto feature walls and into the outdoors in alfresco and pool areas.
“Natural and composite stones, marble, timber cladding and concrete are all now appearing both indoors and out, providing a smooth transition between the two areas.”
Ms Travers said kitchen and bathroom fittings in copper and brass were popular and gave a luxe finish.
She said tiling was trending toward a mixed-pattern tile and hexagonal tile as a feature, and black and white was on trend, with white tiling with black grout very popular.