Advice hub

Lui’s top five design tips

Jul 11, 2018

Welsh Oak Frame’s Architectural Designer Lui Rocca reveals his top 5 design tips when it comes to planning your new oak frame home

1.Take your time when it comes to the design of your home – it is the most important part of a self-build project. Your design is what adds character to your home, what makes it livable and what makes it bespoke to your needs and requirements. With this in mind, you need to make sure that you create something that suits your aesthetic taste, lifestyle and budget. Your project design is something that you don’t want to rush, and it’s essential you get it right. It’s far better to spend time at this stage (making alterations, perfecting the layout, moving rooms) rather than decide you don’t like something later down the line when work has already started. While changes can be incorporated when construction has started, they will be costly in terms of both budget and time.

2. The kitchen is the hub of the home, it’s where most families congregate and is where a huge portion of your interior budget will be spent. Before you decide what you want in your new kitchen, and how you want it to be organised, consider the arrangement of your current kitchen. Write down a list of what you love about it, and what you feel doesn’t work (as well as adding to it a wish list of what you’d like to incorporate in your new one). Once you have this list in mind, work with your design professional to create something that’s ergonomic, makes best use of the space and incorporates all the elements you require. Unlike many other rooms – with the exception of the bathroom – your kitchen will have fixed products and furnishings, so you can’t just move things around when you fancy a change. You therefore need to plan the room arrangement from the outset to ensure you have allowed for enough workspace and storage, as well as have a direct plan for electric sockets, the right lighting, water outlets and so on.

3. Oak frame homes are a perfect match for expanses of glazing, nevertheless, it’s still important to consider your artificial lighting scheme, too. Take into account the areas of your home that have an abundance of natural brightness and think too about the zones that will need a boost. Lighting should be arranged in layers – you need a good mix of ambient lighting, accent lighting and task lighting. Ambient lighting comprises general illumination; the kind you need to move your way around a room without bumping in to things. Accent lighting is for aesthetic purposes – it allows you to highlight different parts of your room such as attractive parts of an exposed beam, pictures or fireplaces. Finally, is task lighting – this is your practical light which aids you in performing specific activities, so you can see what you’re doing. This is important in rooms such as a kitchen, where you’ll want worksurfaces highlighted to help when you’re cooking, or vanity lights in the bathroom to help with getting ready. It’s a good idea to think about what the different functions of different rooms will be from the outset so that your designer can help you to comprise a suitable lighting scheme, and the correct wiring can be accounted for at the initial design stage.

4. As with your lighting, it is a good idea to think about your electrical arrangements early on, too. By thinking about the placement of larger pieces of furniture at the design stage, you’ll be able to decide how many outlets you need to specify, as well as their position. For example, if you know where your bed will be, you can allow for plug points on either side for your bedside tables. And if you know where you want your wardrobe, you can avoid having sockets located in a hard to reach area.

5. Especially in an oak frame home, your wall construction and glazing will very much dictate the design of your home. One of the reasons why oak frame construction is so loved is due to the characterful exposed beams – so you don’t want to have a layout that doesn’t make the most of them. Similarly, you’ll have to think about placement of your windows and other glazing. Where do you want to have views out to? Do you want a glazed atrium? Are there specific rooms that you want to be flooded with light at certain times of the day? Your designer will help you to create a sun map of your site so that you can plan where natural light will flood into your home and at which times of the day.

Lui has worked in the oak frame industry since 1998. He made his first oak frame by hand, buying in the round logs and milling them by hand to the correct size and shape. He has worked for Welsh Oak Frame for 14 years and is an active member of the Carpenters Fellowship.