The new normal of our family life and work life has presented us with a wonderful opportunity. We evaluate our space and how we fill and structure our home to adapt to our needs.

The problem is, now that a lot of us work from home, we lose ourselves in the following aspects:

  • There are no clear separation between work and family life. This result in stress from from in your home or unproductive days.
  • Loss of Self. No quality time as a couple or alone time.

This is not a new design challenge that we are being faced with. In C. Alexander, S. Ishikawa and M.Silverstein’s book A pattern Language, they refers to the “Intimacy gradient(127)”

In short the Intimacy gradient is a sequence of spaces that start in the most public areas (Common areas) to the inner most private area bedrooms. To keep a clear separation between each area.

1. Intentional with the areas that you create:

Photo by Soroush Karimi on Unsplash
  1. Common area: family interaction- fun, relaxing, enjoy each others company.
  2. Semi private area: pajama lounge, entertainment area, office space.
  3. Private area: Bedrooms.

Each function of these zones must be respected but it is important to know even though a seperation is suggested it does not mean an exclusion of anyone but rather seen as their territory.

For example: Kids can come and play in mommy and daddy’s office but they need to respect the grownups space. The same way don’t sit at the dining room table and expect everyone to walk on eggshells around you. That is the family’s space.

2. Stick to the function of the area.

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

Don’t mix your family life and work life. Christy Wright from the Business boutique has an incredible saying: “Be where your feet are” When you work, work with everything you have in you. When you spend time with your family and friends there are no such thing as work or stress. You are present with your people. Let you home reflect that sentiment even if you need to through a cloth over your computer – out of sight out of mid.

3. Prioritise privacy:

Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

Each and every person in the family needs a space they can call their own and we need to respect that.

For example:

The couple’s domain

  • They need a space where they can be private without the responsibilities as the parents. Exist as a couple. The kids and other members of the household are welcome but they need to respect the couples space as their domain.

Individual privacy

  • Each person need their own space. This can be Dad’s garage, mom’s coffee- time in front of the window, the little one’s alone time with a favourite toy in his/her room, bunk bed or even the linen closet.

The main thing is to allow each member their own break away space. You don’t need 30 rooms, it just means you need to be intentional about privacy.


C. Alexander, S. Ishikawa and M.Silverstein’s, A pattern Language, New York, Oxford University Press, 1977

@christywright, December 2, 2020, Be where your feet are,

Personally my favourite part of a new project, is the part where you are lost in the dream of possibilities. Before you are tied down to the site, regulations set out by the local authority or any of the “realistic” aspects that you need to consider.

You just dream…..

Photo by Elton Yung on Unsplash

This is where we need to pause and zoom in to your own vision for your home or project. Return to the basics, to what you want or need.

Be brutality honest with yourself and leave any judgement out of the whole process. This is not how you wish your life was or how someone else expect you to live your life…… THIS IS YOUR LIFE and your home needs to reflect that.

What is important to you?

No matter your life choice, own it!!!

To help you see that your lifestyle has a huge impact on the design outcome, here are a few examples of priorities in life and how that can influence the design. Lets say….

You love your work:

There is nothing more exciting and that get your heart pumping than going to your home office and getting lost in the passion that you do for a living.

  • Example 1: The entrance to your office is separate from the house. Your employees can entre and proceed with work even when you are on leave. There is ample parking for clients and there is a quiet and professional atmosphere.
  • Example 2: The office is less formal, you love to see the household outside but you are able to concentrate on the task at hand.
  • Example 3: Multitasking is the name of YOUR game. You have to keep an eye on the kids, dinner cooking and the dog running around with the slipper. You have to have a corner in the middel of everything so that you can take control when needed but still be able to focus on your work.
Photo by Adrien Vajas on Unsplash

Fitness first:

You give the care and dedication to your body that it deserves. There are levels to the dedication.

  • Example 1: Your whole life revolve around fitness and what you put into your body. The gym is prioritised it in your home as you prioritise fitness in your life. Front and centre. Imagine how you run on your treadmill while overlooking an indoor garden with large sliding doors, or overlooking a beautiful view while you work out. The room is not tucked away in a small dark corner .
  • Example 2: A gym will be a nice to have. That does not mean n treadmill tucked under the staircase in the basement however the gym does not necessarily have to orientate the best view on the site for instance.
Photo by Jared Rice on Unsplash

Shock and awe:

Lets say you love to entertain and most of all you enjoy spoiling the people in your life. Your main focus is their comfort in your home.

  • Example 1: The guest toilet is decorated with gold finishes. A beautiful skylight showcase the night sky. In the background you can hear a water feature somewhere in the garden to put your guest’s nervous bladder.
  • Example 2: You want your guests to enjoy their visit but your home and design does not revolve around them. There will be comfort but you will focus more on areas all of you will enjoy together.


  • Example 1: The house is devised into two bedroom wings – The parents on one side and the kids on the other. Mostly we found this works best with families with older kids. This solution helps for more privacy.
  • Example 2: The rooms are designed smaller and more space is allocated to the living areas.
  • Example 3: A home surrounding a court yard. This design allow the family are aware of the others at all times.
Photo by Jimmy Dean on Unsplash


There is no reason that all of these categories of life cant intermingle in your lifestyle. The same should reflect in the design approach for your home.

The fact is there is no such thing as an infante budget. The goal with this exercise is to allocate the money for some areas more than others. This can be in the form of finishes and materials or the size and layout of the plan.

Be intentional and honest with your designer. That is the only way that you will get the perfect home for YOU.

Images references:

  • Unsplash

Foyer :By Wicky Oosthuizen from Functional form architectural studio

How many of us open our front door at home and are overwhelmed by a to do list… 

A list overflowing with irritation, the toys needs to be picked up, why is there paw prints all over the place, these shoes are getting out of control again while you trip over the dog’s leash that was never put away….  

There is a better way to arriving home. HAPPY to be home.

Entryway of Studio McGee


Its your home first and foremost what is the view YOU want to have when you come home. 

Whether that is from you garage or front door, focus on the feeling you want to have when you come home. 

Here are a few tips to achieve that goal:


Minimal items should be displayed or stored in this area. 

This area needs to be clean and open. This might sound obvious but if you do not fall over a mountain of stuff you would like to go into your home rather than turning around and lock your door again. 

The neutral tones present a calming atmosphere however the black front door used in the example creates drama to the space and a touch of elegance. 

2. Functionality of pieces selected

Set yourself up for success. Plan according to your and your family’s habits. If you know your shoes NEVER end up in a closet – place a basket, a bench with storage underneath, anything to hide the messy side of life  as far as possible.  

There are functional and beautiful solutions for our habits. We just need to be intentional in our design and planning.   

3. Sentimental decor

Surround yourself with memories and objects that makes you happy when you open your door.   You do not need to overwhelm your senses by adding all the photos you can lay your hands on. 

The memory doesn’t need to be clear or obvious to anyone else, it is there for you and your loved ones.

This can take form in a number of ways: 

  • Family photos
  • Holiday mementos
  • Decor pieces that you love
  • Something that you plan to do, a goal of some kind


This is a beautiful example from a house renovated by Chip and Joanna Gaines from Magnolia / where you can add a sentimental elements into your entryway that brings a smile to your face.

4. Light

Natural light as far as possible.  If you cannot add a window replace the front door with glazed panels (Remember to keep security in mind and plan around your needs) 

An eye catching pendant light, floor lamp or desk lamp can add to a beautiful, homely environment.  

5. Textures 

A mixture of textures enriches the space.It adds warmth and adds to the homely feeling. Textures can be achieved with the following decor pieces for example: 

  • Rugs
  • Wall texture
  • Lamp shade
  • Storage ie. baskets, crates
  • Indoor plants
  • Mirrors
  • Furniture ie. wood, velvet, patterned or colourful fabric, steel etc.
  • Floor finish: Tiles, floor boards, concrete finished with a sealant etc.

Like always rules are made to be broken – as long as you walk into your home and you are happy to be there, you have been successful!!!

I hope you found this helpful!  If you have any tips that you have to add please share below, you might inspire someone else to create a space that they love. 

Image reference:

During the month of July, we had the privilege to exhibit our work at Grounded at Echo.

The theme of the exhibition was SIMPLIFY LIFE.

In this day and age, we tend to focus on bigger spaces, filled to capacity with all our possessions.


The exhibition consisted out of 8 sketches of existing buildings that are all smaller than 100m2. They illustrate that beauty lies within the details, composition and layout.  Not the number of rooms you can fit on your site.  Excluding the one that was of daisies because my husband said he wonders if I can draw anything other than a house…. That showed him 😊

Along with the sketches we displayed two models that are close to our heart. Both are small structures.

The models represented:

  1. The Tiny house cabins.
  2. The Pods – a series of prefab structures that can be assembled as you need more space.


During our exhibition opening night we celebrated our birthday and the fact that God has been so good to us the past few years and celebrating His goodness.

We hope the exhibition inspired people to look at small spaces with new appreciation.

Thank you to the following people that made the opening evening a huge success:

René Walker for the beautiful photos.

Grounded at Echo for the venue and delicious food.

Functional Form_ Architecture _ Image 6 Functional Form_ Architecture _ Image 8Functional Form_ Architecture _ Image 9Functional Form_ Architecture _ Image 11

Functional Form_ Architecture _ Image 7



It might feel overwhelming after you decided that you want to build your own home. Where to start?
We discuss the main role of your architectural team, engineers, contractor with a few additional consultants you might need and where to find them. The councils that are stated below mainly focus on Pretoria, South Africa.

1.    Architectural team. 

The first company you should do your research on is your architectural team is there to guide you through the whole building process. They will also advise you and assist with obtaining the rest of the disciplines and professionals you would need for your project.

They act as you agent and advise you on decisions but the utmost importance is to understand the final decision lies with you, the client. They can advise you but at the end it is your house and you should never feel that you are being bullied into a direction.

However, keep in mind there are always the restrictions the local authority, HOA( Home owners association) and other councils place on the project, that are beyond anyone’s control.

Where to find your architectural team?

Which ever method you choose, either google, Facebook, Instagram, word of mouth etc

Confirm that the professional you are considering is in good standing with SACAP (South African Council for the Architectural Profession)

Confirm that the professional you are considering are allowed to sign off on your project.

“Professional” in front of any of the architects title means, that they are qualified to sign off the plans in their specific category – to read more on what these categories are follow the link to SACAP’s page

The profession is broken up in a few groups:

  1. Professional Architects (PrArch)
  2. Professional Senior Architectural Technologist (PSAT)
  3. Professional Architectural Technologist (PAT)
  4. Professional Draughtsperson (PAD)

2.    Contractors

Established relationship or tender

An established relationship between you and a contractor is always good and it is advisable to compile your team as soon as possible. However, should you wish to approach a few companies to tender on your project, it is advisable to first finalize the design and submit to council for a more detailed bill of quantities and feedback to your tender.

Included in the architectural tender stage is that they will go out and inspect the quality of the prospective contractors’ work.

  1. A building that is in the construction phase,
  2. Recently finished
  3. Lastly a project that has been completed a few years ago.

Where to find a NHBRC registered builder?

3.    Structural Engineer

Any house submitted to council must be signed off by a registered structural Engineer and they supply you the relevant SANS 10400 documents for council together with Site inspection.

ECSA is the governing council for Engineers.

The profession is broken up in a few groups:

  1. Professional Engineer
  2. Professional Engineering Technologist
  3. Professional Certificated Engineer
  4. Professional Engineering Technician

4.    Other disciplines you might need depending on the nature of your project:  

4.1 Specialists in submissions and plan approval services

Should you choose to submit the plans yourself (and not through your architectural team) there are companies that specialize in the submission of building plans to your local authority.

Advantages of appointment:

  • They work with the council drawings every day.
  • They know the process
  • They are familiar with the times that council’s different departments meet
  • They have an established relationship with the council members.

To find an excellent recommendation ask your architectural team or at your local authority.

Word of mouth is most of the time successful.

4.2 Land surveyors

General contours are available on the government’s GIS websites. Here is the link to Tshwane’s site

In some cases that will not be detailed enough especially if the site has abnormal sloped areas.

An Estate might also require you to appoint a professional land surveyor (Confirm on the HOA guidelines)

Land surveyors also provide the valuable service of indicating the corner pegs of your stand. It can be a costly mistake if you end up building on a piece of your neighbour’s stand and is seen as an unnecessary cost while building but might end up saving you.

The South African Geomatics Council (SAGC) have a list of registered members.

4.3 Town planners

The statutory Council that regulate the Town Planning Profession is SACPLAN (The South African Council for Planners).
According to the main responsibility of Town Planners is:

“to ease or avoid social, economic and environmental problems within their town of employment. They achieve this by making recommendations to local elected officials that reflect the needs of the town”

Typical involvement includes the following:

  • Rezoning of stands
  • Changing land use rights
  • Assisting with relaxation of coverage or FAR on a stand
  • Subdivisions or consolidation of stands


4.4 Geotechnical specialists

They analyse the soil condition of a site. The method of testing all depends on the site condition.

The structural Engineer requires a report to prepare an accurate design for the structural and the information is not always available at the local authority. Your appointed design or engineering team will assist you with recommendations.

4.5 Audio & Visual home automation

Living in this day and age our homes move with us into the future. It is recommended, if you considering to install audio and visual equipment (consider the complexity of the project) to appoint your specialists early in the design phase.

This will result in technology that blends into the home rather than an add on fixture.

4.6 Solar energy consultant

This group of specialists consider each home and the family’s habits and requirements.

They have knowledge of the best products on the market and what to recommend to their client’s.

The best method of getting in touch with a professional specialist is by asking your design team, expo’s and as always word of mouth recommendations of friends and family.



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