Australian houses have evolved from the quintessential Queenslander and Victorian terrace, to encompass world of design.

This means that today’s builders need to be aware of trends spanning the forests of Scandinavia to the shores of New York’s coastline, to give their clients the look they want.

“Australians are still very forward looking, with more than 51%[1] of new build detached properties built to capture a ‘Modern & Designer’ look,” says Helen Simpson, Insights Manager at James Hardie. “However, our love of the coast and old-world charm has seen Hampton continue to capture homeowners’ hearts,” she adds.

Trends can also play a vital role in the briefing process adds Architect, Joe Snell: “As building professionals, it’s our job to fully understand a client’s vision, which can be hard if they don’t have the terminology to accurately communicate what they like. Educating the client on the nuance of design will help them better articulate what they mean.”


Scandi Barn

Departing from the mainstream ‘light & bright’ aesthetic, the modern Scandi Barn trend focuses on minimal window use and dark and brooding exteriors in greys and charcoal. These are combined with large format premium fibre cement panels to create macro detail to allow the shape of the structure to take centre stage, says Joe:

“Australian style often takes inspiration from our magnificent coastline, so the monolithic feel of dark greys on a large scale is an exciting and unexpected move for this trend. A main feature of the Scandi Barn style is the diagrammatic house shape, which is achieved with steeply pitched rooves that slope downwards at an angle of 35 to 45 degrees, creating a gable below. Exterior cladding, such as Linea Weatherboard is also key for creating the look. It is designed to emulate the traditional profile of wooden boards, with crisp, structured lines and deep shadows that give a rich texture to exteriors,” he says.




Mixed Cladding

The only native Australian trend on the list, the ‘Mixed Cladding’ look, started in large estates where developers were challenged to create communities with a cohesive look, without taking a ‘cookie cutter’ approach. Achieving this look relies on mixing cladding profiles, James Hardie’s premium fibre cement comes in a range of looks that can be easily combined to meet fire resistance and weatherproofing specifications.

“The mixed cladding look can reflect a well-known style or a unique personal one,” says Joe. “The beauty of working with cladding is that you can enhance different aspects of the property through different profiles, for example the large format, render look of Hardie Fine Texture Cladding makes broad walls look more expansive, while the vertical joint timber look of Axon cladding creates the appearance of height. By incorporating a larger range of profiles, this look opens up almost endless design possibilities,” he adds.


Mid Century Modern

Inspired by blurring the lines between homes and nature, American pioneers like Frank Lloyd Wright created Mid Century Modern to reveal the structure and materials of construction. Typified by large expanses of glass and exposed angular structures, these homes have simple silhouettes that are very aware of their surroundings. To achieve this look, ditch paints and veneers to reveal elements such as steel beams and cladding boards, which need to be beautifully crafted.

“Mid Century Modern focuses on façade articulation, with the lightweight style of construction prompting interest with cantilevered and elevated rooms. Premium fibre cement options are a go to here as they don’t require the extensive support of masonry, while providing lasting style. As it is a minimalist style, avoid ornamentation to focus on the quality of the material choices,” says Joe.


Australian & Contemporary Hamptons

Hamptons, the look that is most in-line with Australia’s coastal, relaxed way of life, hails from the shoreline of New York. Embodying a sense of timeless elegance, the style has been embraced by Australians and adapted to suit everything from shrinking block sizes to rural farmland settings.

The Australian Hamptons style requires the open plan living and coastal style of the American original, but it’s more down to earth. The look is simpler, with a reduction in ornamentation and palettes that suit the conservative approach to colour taken by most Australians. Greys are the mainstay of this look. Whereas the increasingly popular contemporary version preferences white on white, or black and white.

“One key component of all Hamptons designs that gives a feel of craftsmanship is Linea Weatherboards. They’re made from premium fibre cement, instead of timber, so they stand up to the Aussie elements, as they’re resistant to flaking, warping or swelling and damage for moisture. The product’s ease of use and versatility means it’s perfect for creating a client’s desired look, without requiring them to complete regular maintenance long term. It’s a win-win,” says Principal of Hamptons building company, Indah Island, Natalee Bowen.

Both contemporary and Australian Hamptons looks use a simple gable roof line, which can be accentuated in bold colours. In contrast, the traditional American style has multiple decorative-gables and cupola roof features to let in light and fresh air.

“A basic tenant of the Hamptons look is reflecting the surrounding area. In America this means the whites, blues and other coastal elements, while in Australia, we take this principle and apply it to our locations, incorporating eucalyptus greens and caramels for interiors in rural areas, to adding shades of greys on city exteriors,” Natalee adds.

“Whatever the style, understanding the look the client wants and how deliver it will make all the difference,” says Helen. “From modern to traditional, trends are a great place to start when defining what makes a happy home for your clients,” she concludes.

To find out how to get a modern look for your home, visit

[1] BIS Oxford Building Materials in New Dwellings 2018