Share this post

Words by Trent Woods

We aim to design at least one ‘good room’ in a house - the living room, the one we spend our waking hours in, the one we live in. The best living rooms are also directly connected to a garden which provides fresh air, sunshine, warmth, a connection to nature, as well as another space to live in, a second living room-just outside.

In the houses we design, we consider the garden the second good room. It’s also the most affordable space in a new home, the one you don’t pay for, it’s basically unimproved block value. It’s also the room you project yourself onto, the one you make, bit by bit over time, adding value along the way.

The dilemma we find ourselves in is that houses are getting larger and blocks of land are getting smaller. The cheapest and most affordable room, the garden, is shrinking displaced by more house and more cost. Gardens have been reduced to a small paved and roofed alfresco with little appeal or prospect.

 Displayed is a stylish kitchen with modern amenities, white cabinetry, and a large wooden dining table complemented by matching chairs. The design incorporates exposed brick walls, blending industrial and contemporary elements. Large, black-framed windows and doors open to the exterior, offering views of the adjacent outdoor space and providing a bright and airy atmosphere.
Sharp House by Steelehouse Architecture. Photography by Luke Carter Wilton
Sharp House by Steelehouse Architecture.his image shows the exterior of a modern home featuring a unique blend of materials, with exposed brickwork, wooden cladding, and large glass windows. The architecture showcases clean lines and geometric forms, with a cantilevered upper section creating a covered outdoor area. The garden is well-kept, with a stone pathway leading to the entrance.
Sharp House by Steelehouse Architecture. Photography by Luke Carter Wilton

In the best houses, the living room and garden, are totally connected. They flow into each other, and are used as extensions of each other. More importantly, they both perform better when they’re connected. Living rooms are enhanced when they’re naturally lit, ventilated, and warmed by the sun. They’re also cheaper to live in, using less energy for heating, cooling and lighting.

Gardens and living rooms need to be a decent size to be functional and they need to be in the right place, facing the right direction. Both thrive in the sun and need good orientation for this to happen. Luckily, every block of land has access to northern orientation. This does require design effort and greater value needs to be placed on our living rooms and gardens than on our cars.

The recently deferred State Planning Policy 7.3 for residential dwellings understood these two good rooms and their symbiotic relationship and had provisions to ensure they were connected, functional and sunny. Those provisions would have made our homes more sustainable and healthier as well as more affordable to build and to occupy.

Sharp House by Steelehouse Architecture.The photo depicts a contemporary, spacious kitchen and dining area with a minimalist design. The kitchen features sleek white cabinetry with a contrasting dark backsplash and a large kitchen island with a white marble countertop. The dining area includes a solid wood table with matching chairs. Large windows and sliding doors allow for an abundance of natural light and a seamless connection to the outdoor garden.
Sharp House by Steelehouse Architecture. Photography by Luke Carter Wilton
Sharp House by Steelehouse Architecture.The final image presents the rear of a contemporary house, characterized by its corrugated metal roof and warm wooden soffits. The design is a harmonious combination of industrial and natural elements, featuring large glass windows for an indoor-outdoor living experience. The backyard is tidy, with a narrow garden bed lining the brick base of the home.
Sharp House by Steelehouse Architecture. Photography by Luke Carter Wilton