1970s typical layout

Open plan living areas were typical. Bedrooms were usually grouped at one end of the house and living areas at the other.

The houses of the 1970s were generally bigger than some earlier homes, typically around 110-130 m2. However, a number built for lower income owners were smaller, at around 85-100 m2 for a three bedroom house. The average floor area of all new homes was 107 m2 at its lowest point in 1975.

Houses were generally rectangular or L-shaped. The plan layout typically had living spaces in an open plan configuration at one end of the house, and bedrooms and a bathroom at the other.

Split level usually consisted of three levels, with the garage on the lowest level, bedrooms on the intermediate level and living areas on the upper level. There was a half-height (approximately 1.5 m or 4-6 stairs) separation between adjacent levels.

Many houses were generally well orientated to provide sun into living spaces. However, this was not always the case for 'spec' houses built from standardised plans or for houses built from plan books.


In the interests of economy, the typical rectangular plans were reduced in area by omitting the front entry and combining the back door with the laundry.

Where a defined front entry door was provided, it generally opened into a hallway/corridor, typically 900-1000 mm wide, that provided an access route to living and bedroom spaces. However, entry directly into a living space became more common during the 1970s.

In many split-level houses, and some two-storey houses, the front door opened into the stairwell, which gave direct door access to stairs to lower and upper levels.

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Living areas

The living space made up approximately half of the floor area of the house, and included living room, dining room and kitchen in a more or less open plan layout, with storage units, a partial wall or an L-shaped configuration to define the separate areas. In larger houses, this period of house development saw the incorporation of the family room.

An open fireplace was still commonly provided as the focal point of the room, although free standing steel wood burners and gas heaters were also gaining popularity.

Fireplace surrounds for open fires could be clad full-height with stone or brick. A similar finish was sometimes continued on the exterior. Built-in shelves and cupboards were also sometimes used as features as well as providing storage and room divisions.

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Kitchens had built-in, plastic laminate (Formica) or stainless steel bench tops, with cupboards and drawers for storage below. Wall-mounted cupboards above benches were standard, along with space for an electric stove and a fridge. The layout was either L- shaped, U-shaped or galley style (long and narrow) to incorporate the contemporary design philosophy of a work triangle between the sink, stove and refrigerator. More tiles were used in kitchens from this period.

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Houses typically had three bedrooms: one larger bedroom and two smaller ones. There was a double built-in wardrobe in the main bedroom and single ones in each other bedroom.

Bedrooms and the bathroom, as with house styles of other periods, were accessed off a corridor.

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There was generally one bathroom, containing a built-in bath and a vanity unit. Showers, either over the bath in smaller houses, or within a separate space in larger houses, became a standard fixture. In larger houses, a small en-suite bathroom was often located off the main bedroom.

The toilet was also often in a separate room. This period also saw the introduction of the second toilet, often located closer to the living spaces.

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The laundry had a stainless steel tub (sometimes a double tub) and space for a washing machine but not usually a dryer. A hot water cylinder (which was now more likely to be mains pressure) was located in the laundry or in a hallway cupboard where it doubled as an airing cupboard.

In smaller houses, the bathroom and laundry were generally located close to the kitchen to keep plumbing costs low, with the back door opening into the laundry.