UPDATE: 10 Things to Know Before You Plan Your Dream Home

We know it can be overwhelming when starting to plan for your dream renovation or [new] home.  Here we have put together this list of things you need to know before designing your dream renovation or [new] home, covering some key points to consider at the beginning of your journey. 

Don’t feel you need to know all the answers right now, our team at Dig Design will be there to guide you through the process from start to finish. 

With planning and considered discussion, you will be in a position to make good decisions with minimal stress and make the planning of your dream renovation or [new] home a truly enjoyable experience.

The first step is to find the architect that’s right for you.

Download our handy guide here, then give us a call to discuss your home.

Contact us at Dig Design to find out more about our architectural design process and how we can help you meet your goals.

Choosing the Right Shade of White

Photo by Anastasiya Vragova, Pexels.

Choosing the right shade of white for your home interiors can be a challenging task.  While white is a classic and timeless colour and it might seem like white is white, if you’ve tried selecting the perfect shade for your home you know there are many different shades to choose from and that each shade can create a different mood and atmosphere in your home.  It can be a tough choice.  However, I’m here to let you know that the perfect white for your home DOES exist, but it won’t be the one white for all projects.  In this article we’ll explore some tips on how to choose the right shade of white for your space.

A Word on Colour Temperature

Before we explore Dig Design’s tips on choosing the right shade of white for your project, a word on colour temperature.  You will hear and read a lot of things about cool and warm whites, but what does that mean?  Colour temperature in this instance refers to our perception of how the colour feels, as opposed to the measurement of colour temperature (used in lighting) which is the reverse. Of the twelve primary, secondary + tertiary colours of the colour wheel, six are considered warm while six are considered cool.

The warm colours are: yellow and red (primary), orange (secondary), yellow-orange, red-orange and red-violet (tertiary).  When we look at these colours, we feel warm and cosy.

The cool colours are: blue (primary), violet and green (secondary), blue-violet, blue-green and yellow-green (tertiary).  When we look at these colours, we feel cool and fresh.

Consider the Natural Light

Natural light plays a significant role in the overall appearance of your home’s interiors. The amount of natural light that enters your home can vary depending on the orientation and location of your property.  It is important to consider the direction your room faces and the amount of natural light it receives when choosing the right shade of white. 

If you have a north facing room with loads of natural light, you may consider choosing a cool white such as Dulux ‘Lexicon’, as it will soften the brightness an abundance of natural light brings. 

If you have a south facing room that feels a bit more insular, you might choose a warmer white such as Dulux ‘Snowy Mountains Half’ which will make a space feel calm and inviting.

Railway Crescent, Dulux Vivid White.

Consider the Undertone

Undertones are the underlying colours that are present in a shade of white, for example a yellowish white (warm) or a blueish white (cool) and sometimes you can have a very strong feeling about an undertone.  Warm whites typically have yellow or red undertones, like Dulux ‘Whisper White’.  Whilst cool whites typically have blue or grey undertones, like Dulux ‘White on White’.  It’s important to remember that there are many tints and shades available to choose from in both warm and cool whites, that a warm white doesn’t have to remind of butter on toast! 

Agnes Street, Dulux Whisper White.

Consider Your Other Finishes and Colours

The overall palette of finishes and colours in the space have a role to play in choosing the right shade of white for your home.  You want to make sure that the shade of white you choose complements and enhances the other finishes in your home rather than clash with them.  If you have a lot of warm earthy tones, brown or red timbers, leathers or brass your space will probably be best suited to a warm white.  If you have lots of black or blue, polished concrete, stainless steel or stone you it would likely be a cool white that you require.  Cool whites also work well with lots of bright colours as the colours tend to neutralise the white.

Consider the Mood You Want to Create

Different shades of white can evoke different emotions and create different atmospheres. If you want to create calm and relaxing spaces, a warm white like Dulux ‘Whisper White’ or Porters Paints ‘Popcorn’ can create peaceful, cosy environments.  If you want to create a crisp, fresh and open space, a cool white like Dulux ‘White on White’ or Porters Paints ‘Talc’ can create a sophisticated look.

Consider the Style of Your Home

The style of your home can play a significant role in choosing the right shade of white.  Cool whites, like the Dulux ‘Lexicon’ family (full, half and quarter strength) are ideal for contemporary architectural spaces creating crisp and sophisticated interiors.  If you have a heritage style home with more insular spaces and less natural light, warm whites will likely be a better choice.  Colours like Dulux ‘Natural White’ will create a cosy and welcoming atmosphere.

Consider the Sheen of Your Paint

The sheen of your paint will affect how it appears on your walls.  Sheen refers to the level of reflection from the painted surface.  A matte paint will absorb light and appear darker, where a gloss paint will reflect light and appear lighter as a result.  Walls are generally painted in low sheen paint. 

When specifying white paint at Dig Design we generally like to use the same colour on all surfaces, but different levels of sheen or concentration.  So on the walls we will use low sheen paint in Colour A, the trim (skirtings and architraves) also Colour A but in either gloss or semi gloss, and the ceiling half or quarter strength Colour A in a flat finish, although sometimes Ceiling White is a good choice too.

Sample Patch

When choosing the right shade of white without input from your designer, or looking to confirm your designer’s choices, we recommend you paint samples patches on your walls at least 50 x 50 centimetres in size.  You should paint these in an area to captures different light and view them in morning, noon, afternoon and evening.  Make sure you do at least two coats and write the name of the paint underneath (in pencil).  If you are painting over some heavy colours or getting distracted by the surrounding colour, try covering it with copy paper.

Verdon Street, Lexicon Half

In summary, choosing the right shade of white for your home interiors involves considering the natural light in your home, the undertones of the white, the other finishes in your home, the mood you are looking to create and the style of your home. Dulux, Taubmans, Porters Paints, amongst others, all offer a range of white shades to suit different preferences and styles.  By considering these factors and exploring the available options, you can choose the perfect shade of white for your home.

Keep scrolling for Dig Design’s favourite whites!

Dig Design’s Favourite Whites

There are 100s, in fact probably 1000s, of white you can choose from and this in itself can be a little overwhelming.  If you are looking for a head start, here is a short list of some of our favourite whites:

Cool Whites

Dulux, Lexicon Half

Dulux, Vivid White

Dulux, Casper White Quarter

Porters Paint, Talc

Taubmans, Crisp White

Warm Whites

Dulux, Whisper White

Dulux, Natural White

Dulux, Snowy Mountains Half

Porters Paint, Popcorn

Taubmans, Milk Cloud

Do you have a project you’d like to discuss?

Reach out today to discover the possibilities.

Alternatives to Engineered Stone

Alternatives to Engineered Stone

Engineered stone, also known as reconstituted stone and often referred to by popular brand names, has become the benchtop material of choice for homeowners across Australia, marketed as a durable, cost effective and aesthetically similar alternative to natural stone. Here we discuss why you should consider seeking alternatives to engineered stone and what your choices are.

There has been much recent press highlighting the dangers to stone workers in working with engineered stone.  In it’s finished form, engineered stone poses no risk to homeowners, however there is considerable risk in cutting this material.  Crystalline silica is a naturally occurring mineral in many construction materials including sand, stone, engineered stone etc., and the amount of crystalline silica found in products varies, with engineered stone containing the highest percentage at up to 95%. 

This crystalline silica becomes airborne when products like engineered stone are cut and when the dust is inhaled the mineral makes its way deep into the respiratory system with life altering consequences.  A combination of measures are required by stone workers to control exposure to crystalline silica, including wet processes and water suppression systems to prevent dust generation and disbursement.  However, much like asbestos it is expected to be determined in the near future, that there may not be a safe way to work with engineered stone.

The best way we can minimise the risk to stone workers it is to choose to use a different material for your benchtop.  Below, you will find a list of alternatives, in no particular order, to engineered stone that will not only give you beautiful benchtops and splashbacks, but also keep our construction workers safe.

Natural Stone

Natural stone contains a percentage of crystalline silica, although in significantly lower levels than that of engineered stone.  For example marble contains around 5% (although can be as high as 30%), granite 30% and limestone 2%.  Natural stone offers a stunning authentic alternative to engineered stone, although it does cost more.  Being a natural product, there can be great variability in visual grain density, so make sure you hand select your slab.

Natural Stone: Dig Design’s Hannan Street project with Super White Dolomite benchtop, splashback and wrap.


A timber benchtop adds warmth to your kitchen and is very popular for bathroom vanities.  With many timber species to choose from, you can select a colour and grain to suit your aesthetic.  Timber is a softer finish to other materials, but it is easily refinished and resealed.  The cost of timber benchtops varies depending on species, plank sizes and finish.


A concrete benchtop can really add something special to your kitchen, and your kitchen doesn’t need an industrial aesthetic to showcase a concrete benchtop.  Concrete benchtops can be pre-cast offsite or be formed and poured in situ.  Concrete contains about 30% crystalline silica, a similar percentage to granite.  Concrete benchtops are hardwearing and heat resistant and can be created in a variety of colours and finishes.

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel benchtops are durable and easy to clean and are most suited to an industrial aesthetic.  They are prone to scratching and great care must be taken with abrasive products on the surface.  Stainless steel benchtops are easily dented so don’t drop your heavy saucepan on them!

Solid Surface

Solid surface benchtops are crystalline silica free, made from bauxite and an acrylic resin binder.  Slabs can be joined together using a method that makes them completely seamless, including sinks and drainers.  They are UV resistant, stain resistant, scratch resistant and repairable.  Available in many colourways, there is bound to be something to suit your aesthetic.


Porcelain is an ultra-compact surface that is increasing in popularity as a finish in Australian homes.  It is heat and fire resistant as well as highly scratch and UV resistant, making it the perfect choice for outdoor kitchens.  Porcelain benchtops contain around 15% quartz, the most common form of crystalline silica.

Porcelain: Dig Design’s Railway Crescent project with QuantumSix+ Statuario porcelain sheet wall cladding and shower shelf.

Recycled Glass

Benchtops made from recycled glass bottles are a sustainable, crystalline silica free alternative to engineered stone benchtops.  Recycled glass benchtops are relatively new to the market and made from glass bottles and jars collected form our curb side recycled home waste, they are hand crafted and variance between and across slabs is to be expected … but also comes with the kudos of being able to tell your friends all about your recycled benchtop!


Laminate technology has come a long way over the last decade or so, don’t think of laminate as your parent’s old 1970’s orange and brown kitchen.  There are over one hundred realistic prints, textures and block colours to choose from, in many different finishes, including self-healing nano particle flat matte laminates.  Laminate is not going to be for everyone, but don’t rule it out.

Laminate: Dig Design’s Verdon Street project with Fenix NTM (nano-tech matte) in Nero Ingo benchtop, splashback and cabinetry.

Low Crystalline Silica Engineered Stone

A new family of engineered stone benchtops are now coming to market, with a greatly reduced crystalline silica content of around 28%, a similar percentage to granite.  This product is a hybrid, combining precision printed surface along with coordinated body veining. 

You can see there are many great alternatives to engineered stone for you to choose from.  There is bound to be one to suit your needs and make your kitchen or bathroom look just as beautiful as with engineered stone … except our stone workers will be kept safe.  At Dig Design, we expect the availability of no or low crystalline silica products, such as that mentioned above, and the options available are set to increase over the next couple of years as informed consumers and designers force a change in the marketplace.

Contact us today to book a meeting to discuss how Dig Design can help you create your dream home.

How Do Architects Calculate Their Fees?

A common question we get during our initial meetings with new clients is ‘how do architects calculate their fees?’.  In this blog post we will briefly explain the three main methods architects use to calculate their fees, then explain how we calculate our fees at Dig Design.

Percentage Fees

This is probably one of the most common method architects use to calculate their fees.  Calculating fees this way involves applying a percentage to the cost of works (construction cost excluding GST).  The percentage used to calculate the fee is on a sliding scale.  The higher the cost of works the lower the percentage.

Myth:     Architects choose expensive detailing and finishes to increase the cost of works and their fee.

Reality:  Most architects will not increase fees unless there is an increase in scope, or a reluctance from the client to realistically link the brief to the budget.  Ultimately, we want you to build and love your dream home.

Lump Sum Fees

Lump sum fees are a fee negotiated and agreed to by the client and the architect for the delivery of specific services, they are also known as fixed fees.

Myth:     Architects pad their fixed fee with unnecessary costs.

Reality:  Architects with a strong body of experience are well skilled in knowing what is required on a project and therefore set their fees accordingly.   Ultimately, we want you to build and love your dream home and we want to be the ones to help you get there.

Time Charge Fees

Time charge fees are calculated using an hourly rate multiplied by the number of hours spent providing services.  This method is similar to that used by other professional service providers like lawyers and accountants.

Myth:     Architects pad their time charge fee with hours not worked.

Reality:  Architects keep a record of hours worked and will pass that information on if requested.  If you request an hourly rate fee, we will give you an estimate of hours we expect to spend on your project and let you know along the way if any of your requests have a time and cost implication.  Architects will often apply a cap if it is appropriate.

How We Calculate Our Fees at Dig Design

At Dig Design we use a hybrid model for calculating our fees, with the occasional project specific anomaly.  Our fees are made up of two components, design and documentation + contract administration:

Firstly, for design and documentation, we calculate our fees as a percentage of a construction cost estimate, based on the scale and scope of the proposed work … and then we fix it!

Should the scope of works be increased from the original agreement, we may need to recalculate our fee.  There are a couple of triggers for hourly rates which are outlined in full within our fee proposals.

Secondly, at the construction phase if you engage Dig Design for Contract Administration, we calculate our fee as a percentage of the signed contract price (between you and the builder).  This percentage is outlined in our fee agreement.  There are occasions where we might charge an hourly rate rather than a percentage due to the small scale of the project, or where the client wishes to deal directly with the builder themselves and is only after advice when required. 

Contract Administration services are an add on service, so itemised separately in our fee proposal.  Some people might feel confident to deal with the builder directly and only want advice as required.  Others might see the value in ensuring that what is built is what we have designed and wish to engage Dig Design for this service.

Within our fee proposal, we provide fee options which we refer to as Service Packs.  Typically we offer one that includes architectural and interior design services, one that is for architectural services only and one for our Brief + Possibilities Package, which is a preliminary feasibility service plus extras.  some people wish to engage Dig Design for our Brief +Possibilities Package as a lead into one of the other Service Packs, in which case the BPP fee is deducted from the architectural/interiors fee.

Take a look at what’s included in our Service Packs.

Contact us to book a meeting to discuss your project and request a fee proposal, or find out more about our Brief + Possibilities Package.

Why Now is a Good Time to [Plan] the Renovation of My Home

For most of us our home is the biggest investment we make in our lifetime, so it is only natural to ask yourself is now a good time to renovate my home?  Or, can I design my home now and build later?  In this post we examine why now is the best time to plan your dream renovation or new build.

For many, particularly those of us in Melbourne, 2020 and 2021 saw us retreat to the safety of our homes.  It was a time of prolonged togetherness like we had never experienced before.  Kids at the kitchen dining table learning, parents at makeshift desks working, soups on the stove and sourdough in the oven.  Friday night movies on the sofa, game night Wednesdays and a little too much screen time … it really was an extraordinary time.

Some of us loved it, some of us went stir crazy at the sight, size, colour and location of our four walls!

I think most of us at some point during the pandemic imagined our lives lived in improved versions of our homes.  Home offices, huge windows with natural light streaming in, strong open connections to our backyards, bigger kitchens, larger living spaces, spaces where we could be together and spaces where we could be apart …

Some of us jumped into action on those imaginings and started working with our architects on redesigning our homes to suit our changed lifestyles.  Some of us acted immediately and are excitedly coming to the end of our builds, others are already enjoying our renovated or newly built homes.  Some of us hesitated in an uncertain world and some of us are done waiting and now looking for the right architect to bring our imaginings to life.

Housing Market

The housing market boomed and homes that ticked all our boxes where in frenzied demand.  Paired with never-before-seen low interest rates, housing prices went through the roof. As with all things that go up (or down) at a rate beyond norm, we are now experiencing the correction of the rapid and unsustainable price rises and low interest rates.

Whilst there is no denying that housing prices have begun to decline, we are still ahead of where we were pre-covid.  The real estate market is full of ups and downs and plateaus in between, it always will be.  On the below graphic from the REIV, published at the end of the March 2023 quarter, you can see the rapid increase in housing prices, and now the correction, compared to where we were pre-covid, and the commencement of the next plateau.


If you purchased a home you thought ticked all your boxes at low interest rates, inflated prices and a seller’s market (at the top of that curve), you might now be feeling some regret.  If you renovated your home you might be feeling pretty chuffed right now.  But what if you hesitated?  What now?

You’re in luck … now is the perfect time to plan your dream home.

Time to Plan

There are many different stages involved in planning your dream home, with the build being one of the final stages.  Planning your dream home doesn’t mean you need to build right away, in fact holding on a build date has many advantages not the least of which is giving yourself time with your architect to get the design of your home just right.

You can spend time writing your design brief, a document that clearly sets out all that you want your architect to know and understand about your unique family dynamic and what is important to you to include in the design of your [new] home.

Your design brief is a live document and can change but it’s the starting point for discussions with your architect, or when selecting your architect.  There are pragmatic inclusions such; your budget and how many bedrooms and bathrooms you’d like, but what you really want to understand are your why[s].  For more information on how to write a brief, follow the link to our post about design briefs and download our guided templates for writing a brief.

Ahead of the Market

The building process from start to finish takes time, particularly if town planning approval is required.  Starting the design process now whilst the market is quietening can put you ahead of the market when the time is right for you, putting you in a good position to make the most of competitive prices, your choice of builder and potentially a quicker turnaround for approvals and permits.

Planning your [new] home ahead of time, having a design and documentation package ready to go, makes it possible to move forward with your build when the timing suits you, rather than rushing the design and documentation process when you are looking to start your build. 

The design and documentation process is an investment that is a fraction of the construction cost, so don’t let the fear about what the fee might be stop you from being pleasantly surprised by what the fee actually is. 

Now is the perfect time to move forward with planning your dream renovation or new build.  It will give you the time needed to properly assess your why[s], develop your brief and adequately consider the design.  You are not committing to building right now, but you will be ready to move forward with your build when you decide the time is right.

Improving your lifestyle and increasing the value and usability and energy efficiency of your home is always a good move.

Contact us at Dig Design to find out more about our architectural design process and how we can help you meet your goals.