Changing lifestyle has had strong influence on today's homeowner and the importance they place on the 'flow' of their property. This is all to do with the floor plan and, in my opinion, a good floor plan can add serious value to a property.
Decades ago, a typical house comprised a selection of separate rooms all with doors – even the dining room had a door. Today, the open-plan layout is the floor plan of choice and this isn't going to change any time soon.
You might have noticed that floor plans are becoming a standard inclusion in marketing campaigns. Ten years ago, you'd never see a floor plan on a website advertisement or on the back of a brochure. Today, they're as critical as the photos. This is because people value a superior floor plan.
I recently received an email from a client in Dubai who commented how hard it was to buy property without seeing a floor plan. She subsequently spotted a property online but there was no floor plan, so the agent drew one himself, scanned it and emailed it to her. She bought the property two days later. But back to the design aspect.
The most common form of open-plan design we see today is a large living/dining/kitchen area at the rear of a property with French doors, bi-folds or glass stackers opening to an entertainers' terrace and/or garden. This is classic modern style and we see it a lot in family homes.
It's also common for house owners to knock out the wall between the formal lounge and dining rooms to create one large formal entertaining space.
I think the open-plan design is valued for two reasons. Firstly, it enhances the sense of space and style. Secondly, it allows families to spend more time together.
However, keeping some living rooms separate is a good idea. Take a rumpus room. Keeping it separate from the casual and formal living/dining areas enables you to use it for a variety of reasons – as a guest room, teen retreat, office/study, home cinema, games room.
In terms of bedrooms, there's value in having the master bedroom positioned away from the other bedrooms. It gives mum and dad some extra peace and quiet. In double-storey properties, particularly in new apartments and townhouses, we are increasingly seeing the master bedroom with ensuite on the lower level with the kids' bedrooms and main bathroom on the upper level.
Another trend in floor plans is the 'luxuriating' of bathrooms. Once a simple utilitarian room, bathrooms are taking on a day spa vibe with rainwater showers, deep spa baths, underfloor heating and extensive use of stone, wood and glass to create a tranquil Zen-style atmosphere.
If you're intending to renovate, I suggest talking to an architect about possible changes to the floor plan before you get going on the cosmetic stuff. A good architect will offer ideas as to how you can utilise the space you have more effectively and this could add significant new value to your home in the long run.
If you're feeling a bit cramped in your current property, consider what you could do to it to change the layout to suit you now, with the option of reverting back if you need to do so.
For example, if you're living in a small two-bedroom apartment on your own, you might consider knocking out the wall between the two bedrooms to create one large bedroom perhaps with a study/lounge area attached. When it comes time to sell, put the wall back in – this is not a difficult procedure at all.
Finally, when changing a floor plan, make sure there is a natural flow between the rooms. A good floor plan not only looks and feels great, it will also maximise light and increase airflow throughout your home.