Making Wise Design Considerations



A primary consideration when renovating a period home is whether to extend the home with a design that is sympathetic to the original period, or with a modern style that’s distinct yet complementary to the original. The important first step in any decision-making should be to ensure that a clear design concept has been developed with your architect.


A successful design outcome is reliant on a considered design concept developed by an architect. This may take time to ensure that the design expectations are aligned between all parties. It is important that the design themes are translated to a concept that encompasses the look and feel of the design outcome. The inspiration for the concept could come from the original period home, the property’s location, or any number of things including the site, orientation, budget, project aspirations, etc. The concept, like a blueprint, sets up proceeding actions that underpin the design, documentation and construction phases of the project. A robust concept can be used to test potential new ideas such as detailing, varying the colour palette and using alternative finishes. If no design concept is agreed on, the cohesion of the final design can be compromised as it might end up being a set of disparate parts put together, as opposed to a considered and well-designed finished home.



Trends are often short lived. Instead, focus on a ‘form follows function’ approach and a style that complements you and your family. Ideally, you have already been through a detailed design process to develop a concept, and therefore, new trends are most likely not going to be useful or relevant. If you want to use items that are ‘on trend’, stick to rugs, paint colours and furniture as these elements can easily be changed over time.


Whether the renovation is aligned to the period of the house or taking on a more contemporary look, ensure you collaborate with your designer to develop a complementary design. The design decisions you make today will most likely be with you until you sell the house. A great design outcome is when the result has a ‘timeless’ feel. One approach is to create a pared-back design ‘shell’ that can be built on with finishes, colour and texture. A simpler design is not a boring design – instead it can be a considered and sophisticated outcome that is classic and timeless.

Rob Ryan is the director of Rob Ryan Projects. Established in 2017 after 20 years of working with Melbourne’s leading design studios, Rob Ryan Projects’ philosophy is simple: a great place or space is a complementary backdrop to the human experience. As collaborators and co-creators, Rob and his team approach projects with curiosity and an open mind that enables them to explore possibilities and new ideas. To contact Rob, call 0402 435 110 or visit

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