Design Class: learning to love your orientation

Have you ever heard designers speak about orientation? Has it given you pause for concern, worried that your penchant for wearing latex and scuba suits in manners for which they were not originally intended is about to be revealed? 

Fear not.

The orientation we’re discussing here, if properly understood, will actually make it easier and more comfortable to enjoy the things you want to do in the privacy of your own home and garden.

So what is orientation?

Orientation simply means the location of your garden and home in relation to the sun.

In Australia the sun rises in the east, travels through the sky to reach the north at noon, before descending again to a western sunset. In summer the sun is high, and in winter it is lower. 

Why is this important?

If you live in northern Queensland and you want to have Christmas lunch outside on your new deck, then you don't need me to tell you that you need to understand where the sun’s going to be at come midday. Once you know, you can make sure the deck is placed where it can be shaded by trees, roofing or a combo of the two.

On the other hand, if you live in high country Tasmania, you'll probably want to plan your deck and garden so you’ll be warm and sheltered. Seems pretty obvious when you think about it, but you'd be surprised how many houses have been built that don't take account of this simple, yet significant factor.

This approach translates through every aspect and detail of designing your home, garden and landscape.

Do you have bizarre night time rituals that require long, uninterrupted sleep-ins? Maybe don’t put your bedroom on the east side of the house. 

Like to swim in a cool oasis, out of the sun? Maybe put your pool to the south, or make sure there’s space for a dense surrounding garden with shade trees. 

Want to grow a kitchen garden? Make sure adjacent buildings or trees aren’t over-shadowing the space. 

And finally, if you do wish to loll on the lawn in your scuba suit, then maybe some strategically placed sun shading will protect your privates from poaching, and your neighbours from nosying. 

Now it’s over to you. How did you enjoy the first lesson in Design 101? What would you like to learn about next? Let me know what weird words you've heard designers use that you'd like clarified. And finally, let me know how understanding your orientation is going to free you up to think more creatively about how you plan things in your home and garden, scuba suit or not.