Grand Designs Live home show in Sydney | INTERVIEW Peter Maddison, of Grand Designs Australia | VIDEOS, PHOTOS

PETER Maddison, presenter of Grand Designs Australia for Foxtel, which sponsored last week's Grand Designs Live home show in Sydney, was on speaker while driving back from a shoot at Warrigal, and he was happy for the diversion.

He was a keynote speaker at the home show.

I asked him what the feedback has been from travelling around the country for Grand Designs Australia.

Well, people are looking for alternatives to what’s available in the mass market. But they don’t know where to start. Price point is very important to them and price points vary. For the average house $400,000 is a common price point. That’s just the house, of course.

Peter Maddison

Peter Maddison

It’s no good hanging onto the past or the old mindset. People are hungry for something new and exciting.

The show gives them alternatives, for example in materials and design. Both the home show which we just had and also our TV show gives people inspiration and encourages them to look at other types of housing, for example, prefabricated and modular.

In his job with the show he's come across amazing departures from the norm.

Yes, like there was this amazing house of four levels with two car spaces and all on a ground plan of 25 square metres! We’re doing that for next season. Yes, it’s an unusually small piece of land. Just outside Melbourne it was.

Then there was a house in Hampton, a California bungalow a couple had reworked. The roof had a rain screen and it was all clad in timber; not extravagant but something very different. It was propped up on the edge of a swimming pool and it had a pitched roof that made full use of the roof space.

People are more interested in materials than colours and they’re going for a natural palette. We’re paring colours back to naturals. I call it an 'honest' approach.

It’s no good hanging onto the past or the old mindset. People are hungry for something new and exciting and they want to be more connected with the outdoors.

We used to only have a few choices but we’ve moved on. Now we have a need for flexible space.

Are we getting more courageous in colour choices?

Actually, people are more interested in materials than colours, and they’re going for a natural palette. We’re paring colours back to naturals. It’s what I call an "honest" approach, with bricks for example. Natural colours with maybe some highlights. We’re more open to flaws and not covering them up.

EXHIBITOR | Think Outside Gardens.

EXHIBITOR | Think Outside Gardens.

In the garden we’re more interested in natives and using rocks and stones, and nothing is preened or placed.

EXHIBITOR | Natural stone from Limestone Australia, with Steve Mawdsley . . .

It’s part and parcel of the café culture found nearer the cities. It’s the experimental side of design. If you want to put it in terms of the way people look it’s more sideburns and stubble, real leather shoes and chest hair is OK.

I’m using "honesty" as a catch-all phrase for what I’m seeing in the building industry. I’m seeing it everywhere; in landscaping, gardens, interiors and artwork.

For example, out in the garden we’re more interested in natives and using rocks and stones, and nothing is preened or placed. We’re using raw timbers and pavers are random cut or just loose stone.

I’m seeing a hunger for less finished, more relaxed, less buttoned-down. And natural materials for blinds and curtains, less aluminium and plastic, and timber with more of an unfinished aesthetic.

I see a hunger for less finished, more relaxed, less buttoned-down. And timber with more of an unfinished aesthetic.

EXHIBITOR | Natural recycled timber from Kennedy's Timbers, with Michael Kennedy . . .

Timber suppliers are catching on and giving us raw-fashioned wood. It’s all part of sustainability, too. The responsible way of doing things. It’s all part of the honesty thing I’m talking about.

The future is understated and making our homes part of our own personal identity rather than a mass-produced identity.

In the past we’ve been shackled with the idea of having to have a bigger house than our parents. In the future our houses will be smaller than our parents’ – and that’s a huge shift, isn’t it?!  ❏

The home show has now finished.

EXHIBITOR | Natural flame heating from Black & Stone, with Graham Brake . . .

Grand Designs Live home show ran to November 1.

■ Highlights from Grand Designs Live in Domain: Your Home across Fairfax community newspapers:

Examples of "honesty" among the Grand Designs Live exhibitors:

- natural rocks and stone with a myriad uses

- real flames in new-designed home heaters

- stunning and unusual but easily-used shrubs and plants

- making use of dead space with attic conversions

- solar panels with solar-powered inverters installed away from the hot roof

- beautiful recycled wood for panelling

- natural sandstone crafted into wall tiles and panelling

- rustic floor coverings made from banana fibres that will last a lifetime

- stunning, aromatic herb gardens to cover your wall (!) with inbuilt drip-feed watering

■ see also | GRAND DESIGNS LIVE interview with Kevin McCloud | AUDIO, PHOTOS

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