Jacqueline Coombe is a freelance writer specialising in business development, marketing, and career development content.
When you picture the great Australian housing dream, it’s hard to go past the image of a quarter-acre block complete with Hills Hoist, pool, BBQ and space for the kids to run around. This image, however, isn’t a realistic one for many Australians building in developed areas.
The average site area of new houses in Australia has decreased by 22% over the last 15 years, from 602 square metres in 2005-06 to 467 square metres in 2019/20. At the same time, lot prices have increased, meaning for many, access to a large block is unattainable.
The good news is that a smaller block (often referred to as a ‘narrow block’) isn’t a barrier to the great Australian housing dream. You can do fantastic things with a narrow block, you just need to plan your home well.
Making the most of a narrow block lot
Spacious living on smaller blocks requires smart design techniques, creative use of interior elements, and good architectural knowledge.
There are six key principles that afford you a nice home that will meet your budget and narrow land size. These principles maximise your site through the use of space, light and air.
1. Open Plan Living
When you ditch dividing walls and instead opt for an open kitchen, living and dining room, you optimise natural light to give the feeling of more space. Light is able to bounce around at its own free will and your main living areas will feel open and airy. Introduce sliding doors out to an alfresco area and this open plan living concept is increased further, providing you plenty of space to entertain and live well.
2. High ceilings
Embracing the vertical space with high ceilings will make even the smallest of rooms feel big. High ceilings increase the light in the room (as there is more surface area in which light can bounce), giving the illusion of added square footage. High ceilings also provide the opportunity for feature highlight windows, which can increase your connection with the outdoors. If you’re looking to build a home that will stand out from the crowd, high ceilings also make it possible to explore unique design choices.
3. Natural light
By now you’ve already figured out that natural light is important. Open plan living and high ceilings will help to maximise natural light, but to make your home feel even bigger, you’ll need to incorporate cleverly placed windows, skylights, highlight windows and glass doors and splashbacks where possible. Skylights are super easy to install and can allow three times more light into your home. A glass splashback is a simple, yet effective, way to increase the light coming in through your windows.
4. Use of space
A narrow lot home is forced to be different through necessity. This can lead to striking design features that aren’t so common and clever usage of every space. Builders who take the perceived size restrictions of a small block and turn them into advantages do so in innovative ways, taking full advantage of every square metre. As a result, you can build your dream home as little as 6 metres wide. Comfort and liveability needn’t be compromised!
5. Colour palette
A neutral colour palette that uses white or off-white tones, blond timbers and earthy elements will bring your narrow block home to life. Neutral tones are a tried and tested classic too, meaning it’s unlikely that they’ll ever go out of fashion.
Colours like light taupe or greige can make a space feel large but also elegant. It’s still bright enough to allow the light to bounce off the walls but it adds a touch of warmth that stark white doesn’t have. Rich natural tones can make a room look expensive, so use it to give your home stature. Complement with white furnishings for a light and airy feel.
Just because you don’t have acres to work with doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a great backyard. Start by thinking about the primary use of your yard and then select a theme that will work to your advantage. Get creative and think outside the box and opt for items that aren’t too bulky and have multiple uses. If you’re surrounded by fences, beautifying them will give a sense of depth.
The advantages of a narrow block
Narrow and small blocks are becoming increasingly popular throughout Australia and it’s not hard to see why. A small or narrow lot can equal a big life when you consider the benefits a smaller lot brings. With a smaller lot you can:
- Build in the area you love - purchasing a narrow block can help you enter the property market without compromising on location.
- Spend less time on maintenance - who wants to prune hedges, mow vast lawns, weed garden beds and rake leaves every other weekend?
- Save money - smaller blocks cost less from the outset and this can free up funds that can be used to upgrade the quality and design of your home.
- Make a sustainable choice - smaller lots take up fewer environmental resources including the land itself and water. Using the power of natural air will not only give the illusion of a larger area, it will reduce your utility bills thanks to cross ventilation.
Building a home on a relatively small or narrow block of land is all about working with the space, not against it. There is plenty you can do to make the space work for you, so don’t let the size of land be a deterrent for building your dream home.
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
© 2021 jacquicoombe