Home-Based Ideas


We hope to inspire some creative action with practical, creative problem-solving suggestions that will get you thinking, with the intent of improving your overall well-being and quality of life wherever you may live. 

Maybe our suggestions, ideas, projects and “solutions” can be your starting points to explore alternative paths or define/redefine your problem or improve or sustain your living environment.
Find more ideas, visit our Blog: Explore, Design, Build.  Our Blog is an adjunct  to our core business which is real estate marketing and, the promotion of sustainable lifestyles and liveable communities. 



What’s Washed Down and Out in Our Stormy Weather (Nov/Dec 2017)

Southern Australia has experienced horrendous storms this Spring and no doubt we all have a story to tell about our own experiences.  Maybe most of your city was without power for more than twenty-four hours, your neighbour’s home was wrecked by a fallen tree  or maybe like most areas after heavy storms, your area had the usual clogged drains along streets – filled with leaves and other rubbish,  banking up in the road-side gutters and flooding the roads.  No at all very pleasant!

But, have you given serious thought to where this murky water goes and from where it has come?

This water in the gutters (storm-water runoff) which is on its’ way to the sewer system picks up not only the litter and debris along its’ travels but also the chemicals and metals washed down from your place of residence, from vehicles and other air-borne particles from all over that have settled everywhere and now washed into our drains.  It is via these storm-water drains that councils move storm-water runoff away from your homes and businesses and to treatment plants.  Look around your community or ask your local council where your sewerage treatment plant is located.  You may be surprised to learn that it will be close to a water way – a bay or river or the ocean.  Probably a Bay that you surf or swim in!

During heavy storms, excess water overwhelms the sewerage system – it overflows and sewerage is sent straight to nearby water sources.  Ask a surfie about some of his or her experiences of surfing near to a sewerage outlet after a storm!  As you can imagine, these “overflows” cause a major water pollution problem for communities – chemicals, heavy metals, household sewerage – ending up in our rivers (the water supply for many) and oceans – contaminating the water, poisoning the sea life (which we consume) and spoiling our recreational areas.

What to do?  We can all do some little thing to alleviate the problem.  Don’t flick your cigarette butt onto the footpath or into the gutter (they end up on our beaches!), don’t litter the streets or anywhere else! Instead, do something positive such as: install a rain garden or permeable driveway that will soak up and filter the water;  talk to your neighbours or apartment manager / concierge or the body corporate manager or your boss and; talk to your council member about the use of such green infrastructure in your community – roadside planting, green roofs, permeable parking lots, rain gardens to filter the water harvested in your driveway and water tanks to store the water from your rain garden for use around your garden. Just all common sense really!

Jan Couper M.Ed; M.Env.
Sustainability Strategist


Our living environment is everywhere – in the building we inhabit, the street in which we live, the shops we visit, our workplace, our city, where we go on vacation, where we play … ;  and it is there 24/7.

Of course, this is obvious but how often do we give our living environment any thought despite it being such a large part of our lives?

Making Use of Design Thinking

Architects use a formal method of design thinking to resolve problems and create sustainable solutions in the built environment.
We can use design thinking processes to solve problems and address concerns in our everyday lives and our living environments by:

  • considering our present situation and our preferred future goal or improved situation and,
  • exploring a number of alternative solutions simultaneously.


Renovate or transform your front garden to make life better all round.

This area of any garden –  whether large and extremely small, poses major challenges to the residents within – especially those in the city.  Your house may “front” a golf course, river, park etc but here in this short opinion piece, I am referring to the entry from the street/ street front – what people see as they pass by or walk into your property from the street.

City dwellers have to cope with pollution, grime, litter, security, hard surfaces, safe access to the front door …  but we all love challenges, especially when it means improving or transforming our living environment.   Read the suggestions in our Blog on how to overcome some specific challenges associated with front yards.

Make It Great, Make It Even Better! (Nov/Dec 2017)

So you like the place you are in – it is close to work, school or it is the area in which you prefer to live but you want to make it a better home – for example:  upgrade it to save on maintenance and energy costs; add a deck or an extra room; put in larger windows or better heating system ….

There is something fascinating as well as satisfying about re-purposing space or materials.  Upgrading anything in your home from the kitchen to the roof and especially any gardening or outdoor living space, is about improving your daily life.
Before beginning any renovation, get to know and understand more about the potential toxicity of materials, conserving materials and resources, what makes a healthy home,
indoor air quality, and other commonsense things like where to put glass/windows to make good use of daylight and natural ventilation.

How your garden design, home extension or renovation of an existing building is designed can enhance your quality of life enormously.  We suggest, before beginning any renovation to seek advice from an architect and consult experts about sustainable technologies e.g. automatic watering systems, security lighting, intelligent ventilation, shading and renewable energy systems – all logical solutions of any renovation.
Architects assess things like usage patterns, flows, light, ventilation and privacy needs to design spaces that work for you.

Jan Couper


Water – What’s your role?  (Nov/Dec 2017)

Water plays a part in every aspect of our daily lives. We drink it, wash in it, cook with it, keep our clothes and homes clean and water our gardens with it. Clean water sustains the environment around us, and is essential for supporting the diverse plants, wildlife and landscapes which make Australia unique.
At the same time, in making more room for ourselves in the cities, the permeable space available for water in the cityscape has been squeezed, and when there is nowhere for the excess to go, our streets are flooded. Climate change and population growth mean we have to be more prepared for future changes. Everyone has a role to play in making sure that we all have the water we and the environment needs.
Read what role we have to play in our Blog >