It’s been an interesting couple of years in residential architecture and design. Brexit, the economy, the global pandemic, the energy crisis and now the terrible troubles in Ukraine have all had a significant bearing on our own domestic lives. In our work here at The English Listed, we are lucky enough to hear about how our clients have reacted to these influences, and how that has had a bearing on how they ‘live’ their homes, their necessities, their wishlists and everything in between! Whether it means now working from home and the need for office space, seeking more room because (adult) children have returned to the fold – or just wanting to create a home that fulfils its potential and brings better well-being to their lives, be it a quiet spot to read, or a dedicated space for a much-loved hobby, we relish playing our part in making things better!
The following trends really stand out for us though and are regularly on our clients ‘must-haves’ when extending their homes or improving the spatial flow within.
Here at The English Listed, we have long extolled the virtue of surrounding oneself with nature and using sustainable natural materials in the home wherever possible, but ‘biophilic design’ is very much the new buzzword in architecture and interiors. Biophilic is defined by the dictionary as “of, relating to, or characterized by biophilia : relating to, showing, or being the human tendency to interact or be closely associated with other forms of life in nature”, but what is ‘Biophilic Design’? Biophilic design is a method used within the built environment industry to increase occupant connection to the natural environment through the use of direct nature, indirect nature and place conditions, which, as examples, could involve using more natural light, increased ventilation, incorporating water into the design or ensuring that plants are designed into the scheme.
During the pandemic, we realised the importance of being in nature and the great outdoors for our wellbeing so it goes without saying that in these troubled times, seeking solace in nature and experiencing the well-being that comes from incorporating direct elements of nature into building environments can reduce stress, blood pressure and heart rates of occupants whilst also increasing productivity, creativity and well-being.
Employing this principal, we have recently completed a project for a Cambridgeshire-based client where huge glazed trapezoid windows, skylights and a fully glazed rood structure flood the building with light. 560 plants were incorporated into the exterior of the structure to form a living wall to complement the woodland site the new building sits within.
Plants walls, plenty of ventilation and floods of natural light make this space created by The English Listed a great example of biophilic architecture
Dogs – and Mud(dy) Rooms
Pet and particularly dog ownership has rocketed in recent years, driven particularly by the lonely years we have spent in lockdown, and our clients are increasingly wanting their homes to provide a practical and welcoming space for their four-legged friends. Mudrooms, boot rooms, the good old utility room (or even a hybrid, known affectionately by Country Living magazine as the “Bootility room”) are often high on our clients priority lists, incorporating large generous sinks, concealed laundry appliances, hooks for leads and umbrellas, benches for pulling on and taking off muddy boots after walks and even showers for rising down muddy paws. Storage is critical here – this is the most practical space in the house, and the room that bears the brunt of ‘stuff’ (to help keep the rest of the house that bit tidier!) so we are always keen to incorporate lots of enclosed cupboards for hanging coats, stashing dirty boots, the iron and ironing board as well as plenty of drawers for endless bits and bobs.
A recent design for a dog-loving client where easy access, a large sink and plenty of storage, leading to a shower room to wash the dogs was a key factor of the brief for their new extension.
The island truly is the beating heart of the home
The erstwhile kitchen table has always been the centre of the British home, but some time ago the now ubiquitous kitchen island took centre stage, as a focal point for gathering, cooking, eating, coffee-ing, newspaper reading, homework tackling and glass of wine drinking, and remains ever popular to this day. As kitchens become lighter and brighter thanks to innovations in glazing and clients want to add sofas, dog beds, dining tables, a piano, the kitchen has got larger and larger and everybody wants to be in here – almost all the time! Islands on legs that reference the traditional kitchen table are increasingly popular – taking up less visual space in a room but still providing all the practical functionality that an island brings. Using a punch of deep colour for the island but leaving the surrounding cabinetry more neutral makes a delicious statement in a kitchen. We think the island is here to stay!
Examples of recent The English Listed kitchen designs featuring islands
In stark contrast to the need for more convivial, open plan gathering places in the home, the ever increasing trend for small, cosseting, calm spaces in our homes continues unabated, and we nearly always have a request from our clients for a reading space, somewhere to sit, somewhere ‘away from it’ and if it has a good view, all the better! Just the word ‘snug’ is enough to make one envisage cosy rooms filled with cushions and book, a roaring fire going, rich colours and rustic vibes.
A recent project in Cambridgeshire by The English Listed featuring a welcoming snug
If you would like to enhance your home with any of these wonderful features, do get in touch!