The Dion Seminara Architecture Blog


Get your kids outside: 7 kid friendly backyard ideas

These kid friendly backyard ideas mean you never have to hear “I’m bored” again

We live in a time when unfortunately our little ones seem to spend far too much of their play time in front a screen.

Think back to your own childhood and your fondest memories might include racing around the yard on your bike or catching tadpoles in the creek. Chances are you probably played in your yard from the time you woke up until you were called in for dinner.

With a little bit of planning, some creativity and a trip down memory lane it is possible to create a kid friendly backyard that will provide your children with the perfect playground.

A space of their own
Kids of all ages will love to have a space to call their own in the garden. From tea parties with friends to a place to hide from mum and dad when they get older, a cubby house will provide them with their own little kid friendly hang out.

A designer cubby house in a kid friendly backyard

Designer cubby house (Source: Australian Design Review)

The open road
While we remember cruising the neighbourhood on our bikes, busier roads these days might make a custom track in the backyard a safer option.

Green Scene Landscape a private road in a kid friendly backyard

A private road (Source: Greens Landscape)

Creating masterpieces
Inspiration for their next work of art is all around in the great outdoors. A cleverly positioned chalkboard at a kid friendly height on a wall or fence can be the canvas for many a masterpiece.

A chalkboard in a kid friendly backyard

Room to unleash their creative spirit (Source: Project Denneler)

Room to run and roll around
Little ones need space to run. And skip. And roll. A patch of soft green lawn is the perfect place to learn to cartwheel, chase the dog or just lay back and watch the clouds go by.

lawn to roll around on in a kid friendly backyard

A lawn to roll around on (Source: Gardenista)

Watch the world go by
Sometimes kids just need a quiet spot to sit and be inspired by nature. Why not work with existing trees in your yard to create a deck to sit on and watch all the creatures that come to visit.

seated deck around trees in a kid friendly backyard

A spot to enjoy their environment (Source:

Swings and other things
The old swing set and see saw have been overtaken by purpose built activity centres and climbing walls. But don’t think it has to be elaborate. Re-purpose an old tyre into a swing and you’re little one will think you’re the guru of garden DIY.

Climbing wall in a kid friendly backyard

Better than the old swing set (Source: pinterest)

Incorporate fun into the design
If you are already renovating or building your home, why not incorporate some fun features into the brief that will be sure to win over the littlest clients in the house.

Blasen Landscape architecture slide in a kid friendly backyard

Win over the kids with purpose built fun (Source: Blasen Landscape Archs)

So to give your little ones a childhood spent in the fresh air instead of the media room you just need to embrace your inner child. Make it fun and you’ll never have to hear “I’m bored” again.

Why not call Dion Seminara Architecture on 07 3899 9450 to discuss how we can help you to integrate a kid friendly garden design into your home.


Space solutions for a family home

Brisbane family home renovation

Creating space in a Brisbane family home


Home to four young children, it’s time for this Brisbane family home to grow

A three bedroom workers’ cottage in Auchenflower was a fairly cosy arrangement for a family with four children under 10. It is not surprising that the urgent requirement was more space.

We met with the owners for a three hour Lifestyle Design Options Assessment to review their current and future lifestyle requirements and to discuss design solutions to their cramped living arrangements. The owner’s brief included an addition to the rear of the property that was bright and open.

This goal was achieved by including a new pavilion featuring expansive windows and large bi-fold doors that open up the main living area to the backyard. The result is a bright and inviting space with ample natural ventilation that can be easily regulated.

The new pavilion houses a generous family styled kitchen, complete with spacious butler’s pantry. A large study nook has also been added, along with a lounge area that maintains a comfortable connection with the rest of the living and dining space. The existing home has been reconfigured to accommodate three bedrooms for the children, along with a bathroom and play area.

The beautiful new master bedroom, with its outlook over a large jacaranda tree, is found in the upstairs area of the new pavilion. This area is also home to two multipurpose spaces and a generous void overlooks the kitchen and dining area and further adds to the spacious feel of the home.

Outside a new front fence in the style of the classic 1900’s cottage improves the streetscape, while a future swimming pool with decking will provide the complete package.

The result is a family home that will now perfectly suit their needs, giving them a sense of freedom and space that they could previously only have dreamed of.

We have already completed the full design and construction documents and we have called for prices from four reputable builders suited to this type of project in a tender process. In this case the difference between the range of the tenders was significant, nearly $250,000. This just shows the true value in the tender process that is available when you engage the services of an architect who operates independently of a builder. The architect fees themselves have been well and truly covered in the savings through the tender process.

Does your family need space to grow? Contact Dion Seminara Architecture on 07 3899 9450 to find out how your current family home can provide you with the space you need in the future.

Brisbane family home renovation

Room to live in this family home renovation


Sloping blocks: From obstacles to opportunities

Sloping Block House Designs Brisbane

A raised home on a sloping block

Imagine a home that sits among the trees like a modern day Swiss Family Robinson.  Or a panoramic coastal vista that can be captured from every room in your home.

A sloping block of land offers you the exciting opportunity to create an impressive and unique home.  Of course there are some extra costs associated with a sloping block including detailed land surveys and costs to access the block and get materials onsite.

But there are significant gains to be made as well.  The initial cost of a sloping block is likely to be substantially less than a level block in the same area.  There are also savings to be made in capturing the breeze for natural ventilation and abundant light in reducing your energy bills.  In years to come if you choose to sell your home you will also experience greater resale on a one of a kind home.

Leaving costs aside, there is one thing a sloping block can offer that a flat block just can’t compete with.  The view.  A sloping block generally offers an elevated hillside position that affords a greater outlook of the surrounding area and beyond.

There are two main approaches for sloping block house designs


The first method of cutting and filling is a common solution for sloping block house designs. The site is excavated and the fill used to build up areas to create flat surfaces to build a slab upon.  An advantage of this approach is that the home sits on the ground, allowing you to walk out straight from the house to the yard.


The other alternative to the cut and fill approach is to raise the house from ground.  Poles are inserted into the ground to support a level frame on which the house is built. This second approach is less disruptive to the environment and allows for a natural water course which avoids potential drainage issues that can arise with the cut and fill method.

The key to the success of this type of project is to embrace the uniqueness of the site and to treat it as an advantage.  Rather than treating a sloping block like it is a flat piece of land, your Architect will work with the site and its contours to create a home that rests lightly upon the land.

By turning obstacles into opportunities your Architect can create a home that reveals itself as you travel through it.  The different levels provide the chance to create distinct living zones, physically separating the various purposes of the home and limiting the noise from each type of activity.

Architect Dion Seminara has over 20 years experience in creating original designs in both residential and commercial architecture.  He can create an innovative design solution that takes full advantage of your sloping block.  Why not contact him on 07 3899 9450 to realise the potential of your unique block of land.


Why Hire an Architect?

The real benefit of hiring an Architect on your next project.

Hire an architect Dion Seminara

Why you should hire an architect like Dion Seminara

In Queensland both an Architect and a ‘Building designer’ can create a design for your residential building project.

What is the difference?

An Architect must complete a university degree followed by two years of supervised practical experience.  After this they then have to sit both a written and verbal Architectural Practice Examination.  Only after completion of this can they call themselves an Architect, and even then they must complete compulsory professional development to maintain their qualification.  They are also subject to the Royal Australian Institute of Architects Code of Conduct which includes obligations to the public, the client, profession and colleagues.

The value of this process is recognised and protected by legislation in Queensland.  The Architects Act 2002 (Qld) makes it against the law to call yourself and Architect unless you are registered by the Board of Architects.

‘Building designers’, who were once called ‘draftspersons’ have significantly less formal training, requiring only a TAFE qualification and two years practical experience.

What does this mean for you?

All those extra years of training gives an Architect the skills to look at the bigger picture and consider solutions that may deliver you a result far better than you ever imagined.  A result that is perfectly tailored to your living needs, location and personal style rather than a ‘cookie cutter’ design that doesn’t work for your family’s needs.

How can an architect save you money?

  1. Architects work independently of builders.   The benefit for you in this is:
    • They can call for competitive tenders which can save you a significant amount of money
    • If you don’t like the cost proposed by a builder using a ‘Building designer’ you have to walk away from your designs which the builder owns copyright in
    • ‘Building designer’s may tailor their designs to maximise profit to the builder, not to maximise liveability to you
  2. Implementing smart, sustainable and efficient designs that can add up to big savings – both in the short and long term.
  3. You will be left with a more valuable asset. In a crowded real estate market your Architect designed home will stand out from a crowd of project homes, providing you with a unique selling point.

But at the end of the day, the most important outcome is a well-designed solution for you and your family’s needs, today and in the future.  The value of having a design that is truly customised to the way you live.  Some might say this is priceless.

Click here to contact Dion Seminara.


Top 6 savings tips for your sustainable home

sustainable homeOk so we often hear about sustainable building practices and lots of people quite rightly want to work with sustainable architects in Brisbane. And if you read a lot of my articles you will understand that I understand a lot about sustainable building principles and in particular how sustainable building designs can save you money in Brisbane’s sub-tropical climate.

Now sustainable practices are great for the environment and they can also be great for your hip pocket. But it’s not only renovations or new home designs that benefit from our expert understanding of sustainable practices. You can also make significant savings through some simple household additions that don’t cost the world.

So here are 6 ideas of things that you can add to your home to enhance its sustainability and therefore save money: Read the rest of this entry »