Curvy shapes, minimalism and natural materials are expected to trend in home design in Australia this year. Architectural design is a continuously evolving space, inspired by cultural, social and environmental changes. New trends come up every season or every year, influencing colours, choice of materials, shapes and sizes, only to give way to newer trends in the next season.

Here are five trends that are expected to impact, inspire and influence Australian home design in 2018.

1. Circular shapes on facades

Australia’s residential architects are exploring new shapes in facade design, a trend that is being mainstreamed today in home architecture. Curves on facades help maximise space on compact sites. Homes that are completely circular are also being built to emulate indigenous architectural styles; for instance, round structures such as huts and igloos were shaped to conserve resources.

2. Above-ground swimming pools

Above-ground pools are a relatively recent trend, especially in urban residential design and high-end properties. Serving more of a decorative purpose rather than any practical use, these pools are slightly larger than temporary inflatable pools and mostly just waist-deep. This style is trending in Melbourne where homeowners are challenged by small property sizes, high cost of land, and a restricted swimming season.

3. Natural is nice

The industrial aesthetic, which was quite popular in residential architecture in recent years, is giving way to a warmer and more natural look achieved using natural materials, textures and colours.

The glass and metal combination on exterior cladding is being replaced with material choices such as concrete, exposed handmade bricks, rammed earth and timbers, which are being seen as having a timeless vibe. In fact, the weathered look of these materials after a few years can make the building look different and strikingly beautiful.

The sustainability movement in residential construction is also responsible for the rising preference for natural materials, with new eco-friendly homes boasting passive solar design, low VOC products and hypoallergenic insulation.

4. Small is beautiful and convenient

The minimalism trend is fast catching up in home architecture, driven not only by astronomical land pricing and the environmental cost of large homes, but also by the homeowner’s desire to live a simpler life without compromising on ‘quality of life’. High energy prices are also encouraging many people to live a more sustainable life.

Architects will need to factor in versatile use of space as well as ease of living when designing a home. Popular interest in concepts such as tiny homes, micro-apartments and co-housing is also growing, requiring architects to get more creative and resourceful when designing for this segment. The small home trend is also expected to address the housing affordability problem as well as make available sufficient housing units to accommodate people in urban areas. This, architects believe, is an opportunity to build more responsibly and create economical, compact and environmentally-sensitive accommodation.

5. Prep kitchens

The latest newsmaker in kitchen design trends, the prep kitchen is a space off the main kitchen in a home where all the preparatory work for a meal is done. Perfect for open plan living spaces, the prep kitchen remains hidden away from sight and has provision for appliances, rubbish bins and dishwashing. The main kitchen area – free of clutter or mess – can be used to entertain guests. It is also an opportunity to go minimalist in the main kitchen.