Summer self-build: make sure your new home makes the most of long days and heat waves with these 5 key ideas
Nikki, an Associate Architect and Interior Designer at lapd Architects, talks through five self-build ideas to think about for the summer months.
You don’t live in the same way throughout the year, and so the space that you live in shouldn’t stay the same either. Your home should be flexible to your different needs in different seasons (especially in the UK climate!) Here are five key aspects to consider when chatting about your self-build over an evening G&T in the back garden this summer.
Indoor-outdoor flexible living spaces
Building your own home gives you the opportunity to think about how your inside and outside spaces can best interact with each other. Having physical elements that can completely change the way a space functions is so important in making the most of those long hot days.
There are two main options when looking to design your home around an inside-outside living ideal: bi-folds and sliding panels. Bi-folds remain fashionable mainly due to their practicality and the ability to completely open up your inside space and connect it to the garden. Sliding panels do offer more of a view to the garden than bifolds, but it’s important to remember that one panel will always remain fixed, meaning less open space along the threshold.
Speaking about thresholds, it is worth considering keeping a level threshold where possible (not having any steps). This lets children, pets and party-goers move in and out without any obstacles, creating a flow between the garden and the living area. Using the same material inside and out, but with a different texturing for added grip outside, also helps improve the visual links between the two spaces, making your living space appear bigger and more open. These kinds of features are discussed with your architect at the design stage, rather than as an afterthought post-design.
Outdoor kitchens and alfresco dining
Thinking about eating breakfast in the morning sun, spending afternoons in the shade or entertaining guests in the garden as the sun goes down is so important for making the most of your self-build. Sometimes you can spend so much time obsessing over the building that the garden gets pushed to one side.
Outdoor kitchens can incorporate amenities, such as fireplaces and BBQs connected to the electricity/gas, keeping you outside and making cooking in the open air as easy as staying inside. If you take into account the sun path, talking through your usual dining habits with your architect, you can find the perfect place for your garden’s socialising area. Some great ways of extending your living space outdoors, without the price tags attached to equivalent indoor alternatives, include pergola structures and patio fire pit dining areas.
Make use of long days and natural daylight (on the inside)
Making the most of natural daylight from above in the summer months is particularly important. Not only does it mean that tricky spaces can be filled with natural light, it also gives the opportunity to ventilate your home from above by allowing the hot air to rise out of the living space. You can focus so much on environmental specs for cold weather that you forget about all the brilliant technology that exists for temperature control during those increasingly common heat waves:
- Remote-controlled roof lights allow hot air to escape from living spaces
- Solar sensor roof lights open automatically based on temperatures in the home
- Solar glass, on a glazed facade, can help prevent overheating if in a direct sun path
Seasonal design features: sedum roofs and canvas awnings
Seasonal design features can help to transform your self-build at different points throughout the year. One notable example is a sedum roof. These environmentally friendly features change colour through the seasons, adding a splash of colour (red or green depending on the time of year) to the exterior of your home. It’s worth noting that sedum roofs are not as expensive or as high-maintenance as you might think. We always work with our clients to decide which features matter most to them and incorporate it into the project cost plan.
Another feature to consider would be a canvas awning. Hooks can be kept on the outside of the building year-round allowing the canvas or fabric to be put up when the weather allows. They provide temporary shading and a cool place to sit on a hot day, as long as you have taken into account the sun path around your home.
Lighting for night time socialising
Warm nights mean that socialising and relaxing into the twilight hours becomes more commonplace. Thinking about how these spaces are lit is important. Integrated LED low level lighting can be fixed discreetly in retaining walls, patios or on the soffit overhang of the building, allowing for an aesthetic solution to a practical issue. Alternatively, larger entertainment lighting means that you can see what you’re eating whilst also showing off your building after dark. Incorporating sound systems outside, or patio heaters for chillier evenings, are also important considerations to take into account.
lapd Architects recommend thinking through your seasonal living habits in relation to the five points above. The more you think about different aspects of your self-build, the more prepared you will be when the concept design process comes around. Working with an innovative architect that listens to you and helps you to realise your dream self-build will mean that your home is designed around you and your life, at any time of year.
We are pleased to be able to offer potential self-builders the opportunity to have a free consultancy with lapd Architects. Visit our Consult an Architect page to find out more or visit the lapd Architects website to get in touch directly.