‘It’s at the core of everything we do.’ Julia Pitt, Avant Homes Group Marketing Director, speaks to PHPD about the role interior specification plays in the company’s new homes.
How much value does Avant Homes place on the interior of a new home?
We place the highest value on our interiors because we are passionate about design and our product is our hero. We visit design shows and believe strongly in researching the latest innovations and trends so that we can offer our customers something that’s really different and exciting. It’s at the core of everything we do.
In 2011 we completely shook up the business, changing the way our homes were designed inside and out. We held customer consultations and created a Product Design Group (PDG). The group came up with a set of key design principles which we ensure are adhered to when it comes to our design and specification. This design-led approach sets us apart from the competition.
What design process do you use when delivering the interior of a new home?
Monthly meetings are held with the product development group to review, research and improve our homes and specification. The ultimate goal is to challenge customer expectations and to continuously raise the standard to offer more of what people want in a new home.
Any changes to our interior specification must encompass our design ethos set out in 2011 with key principles including light and airy living spaces, flexible use of space and living styles, unrivalled specification and respecting the outdoor space as an extension to the internal space and vice versa.
Our panel will look at all corners of the home. We can spend weeks considering the right skirting boards! Just because something has always been done a certain way, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try it. This is why we have had so many industry ‘firsts’ like digital showers and smart heating technology, our own bespoke tile designs and top-of-the range integrated appliances that no other homebuilder offers. We look at basics too, for example we are exceptionally proud of the quality of our doors, bannisters and hand rails.
We visit design shows such as Eurocucina and Maison&Objet then discuss which trends we think will appeal to our customers and this will influence our designs. We’re incredibly competitive and enthusiastic about finding ways to improve our homes. If it can be done a differently or a better, we’re willing to try it. Even if it means it’s the harder way!
Finally, we make sure we do the research. We continuously engage with our customers and our competitor’s customers to make sure we are ahead and are offering something better that people truly want.
Does the company offer a number of levels of interior specification for different house types or locations?
We have two housetype ranges, Bridge and Original – and the quality of the specification for both is the same throughout the country no matter the price or size of property. We ensure that our standard specification is extremely high with plenty of choice so our customers don’t have to upgrade their home if they don’t want to. For example, all our homes are fitted with bi-fold doors – excluding apartments and refurbishments – as standard to provide bright, light living spaces.
All wet room areas – bathrooms, en-suites and W.Cs – are fitted with floor-to-ceiling tiling from our own bespoke tailing range Piastrella – created with our partners Designworks. There are four standard tiling options and a further five upgrade options to choose from.
Kitchens have been carefully designed to maximise space and come in 14 design options with a further five upgrade options. They are completely unique, and months will be spent on each individual design. All include fully integrated appliances throughout. We fit the highest specification appliances that Hotpoint has in its range, as standard in every home. There are always options to upgrade most items of specification to add additional flair such as a hot tub, boiling tap or Amtico flooring.
Do you find some rooms more influential than others?
Kitchens and bathrooms are certainly our most stand-out rooms, but by increasing the amount of glazing throughout all of our homes and opening up living spaces, even hallways and landings feel more light and open.
We’ve modelled our bathroom designs on the feeling you get in a spa hotel with floating sanitaryware by Sottini. All fixtures and fittings are high end, including a square-fixed overhead rain shower.
We call our kitchens ‘Live/Eat’ areas because the flexible spaces have been designed for modern lifestyles where rooms have multiple functions. All elements of the kitchens have been designed with top of the range Hotpoint integrated appliances featuring their Class 9 cooking collection – the only developer in the UK to offer this. Other features such as recessed downlights, soft close drawers and chrome sockets make our kitchen designs like no other. Kitchens are by Manhattan and Ellis Furniture with a choice of 19 colour palettes.
Are upgrade/options packages available, and, if so, what types of things can be selected by a purchaser?
We have an extensive upgrades list if a customer wishes to make their home more bespoke. This includes anything from additional shelving in wardrobes to walls to floor coverings, electrical sockets, security and outdoor spaces, such as upgrading slab to decking or installing a hot tub. We pride ourselves on the fact that we offer much more than most as standard, and at a much higher quality, so if a customer does choose to upgrade, it’s to something rather special.
Are you incorporating ‘smart’ technology into your new properties?
Yes, in fact we have had digital showers as standard in every home for three years now and in 2017 we were the first developer in the UK to partner with British Gas to offer HIVE wireless thermostats as standard.
We are currently trialling ‘Wondrwall’ – a pioneering intelligent living system that makes your home adapt to your needs and desires, automatically controlling heating, lighting, security, safety, and music with voice control technology to override any adjustments at any time.
What are the future trends for the interior of a home?
I think future trends are leaning towards more open flexible living with opportunities to further personalise the home to your own style – all of which we are already doing as part of our fundamental design principles.