Addicted to online house porn?

TRISH CROAKER
Last updated 06:15 28/05/2014
House porn

INTERIOR ADDICT: The clean lines, the tonal grey hues, the simple aesthetic - it's all so utterly appealing.

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Porn ruined my sleep last night - and the night before. Not foodie-porn (everyone except Nigella knows you shouldn't eat past midnight), or your common old garden style porn. This was pure "house porn" - coming at me hard and fast via email, Facebook, twitter and any other way it could via a mobile device.

Without setting out to, I'd subscribed and 'followed' and 'liked' my way into an ever-encroaching online world full of seductive, sensory, gorgeous houses - all asking me to 'click' here to get to know them better; to take a little peek at their flexed muscles, soft curves and clean lines.

Going online was like being trapped in the architectural equivalent of E-harmony or RSVP.

You know the feeling?

Time for some speed dating, to cull the 'I like you but I'm busy' sites from the 'I must-have' you, and to separate the consumer-friendly from the hard-core architectural porn.

For those suffering the same, I asked a dozen award winning architects for quick tips on making online information work for you, and to nominate their preferred sites for those considering a renovation or new build.

Indulge Yourself

Architectural inspiration should always come principally from the site, sun, wind, client, intuition - all of the fundaments at hand, according to many architects, rather than online.

Having said that, the more informed you are architecturally before beginning any design and construction process the better. The more you're able to identify what you like and don't like, the more successful the outcome.

As Rohan Little says: "Architecture is like music, there are a range of genres - pop, rock, jazz, hip hop, classical. Sometimes a client has listened to pop all their life but through architecture blogs and sites realise that they are wishing to listen to a classical jazz fusion ..."

Explore Australian-based and global online sites as widely as possible, along with more traditional forms of media.

Beware of overindulging

Just don't spread your online love too thin for too long - it all becomes white noise.

Having dug deep, selectively choose only what works best for you, and ensure you unsubscribe to the rest. Alternatively, engage only at specific times for specific reasons.

As Andrew Scott says: "Like overindulging in most things, (overindulging online) is a sure fire way to upset an otherwise healthy life."

Be inspired, but realistic

A number of houses featured online are inspiring and informative, offering great design ideas - but completely "un-replicateable in our local building cost/council environment", Simon Anderson says.

A Spanish house winking at me this week features a playful indoor gym, complete with a multi-storey rock climbing area in the heart of the house - every child's dream possibly, and every Council's idea of a no-no.

Matt Elkan cautions against architecture packaged as slick styling.

"Clients will often provide a 'style file' at the start of a project," Elkan says. "This used to be magazine clippings, but it is more commonly a series of images sourced online now. Sites like Houzz allow clients to put together their own 'idea book' which can then be forwarded to the architect."

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Elkan describes this as a mixed blessing, with style files sometimes being useful, but regularly containing too much information to be meaningful. Clients are encouraged to cull their images down to two types - those they really love, and those they really hate.

Penny Collins offers similar advice: "We and our clients need to be reminded that the best houses have one strong idea, or a family of ideas, which are carried through rigorously. They are not a collage of ideas from a digital scrapbook.

The houses in the scrapbook made it in their by being true to themselves."

All agree, be stimulated, but remain realistic about your site, any constraints (budgetary, environment, site) and other considerations.

And, opt for the real deal where possible

Nothing is more inspiring that visiting buildings first hand to experience spaces intimately, rather than online.

As Andrew Scott says "the experience of a building is not fleeting, nor carefully packaged", as they are online.

A number of organisations, including the Australian Architecture Association, Sydney Open and Australian Institute of Architects - offer residential and architecture tours open to the public, offering public access to inspirational award-winning spaces.

Sites

From the ever growing number of sites offering the latest design and architecture trends, a handful are frequently recommended by architects.

They include: DezeenThe Design Hunter,HouzzTree HuggerDesignBoomBustler, and the Design Files. 

Others to check out areContemporistThis is PaperYellow TraceKinfolk, and DomusWebRemodelista is mentioned for those renovating on a budget.

For those looking for harder core architecture sites, tap intoArchDaily.

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