Behind-the-scenes with Joe Snell on the Modern Looks!


What exactly is the ‘Modern Look’? We recently showcased our vision for this category at the Modern Looks launch event, with leading architect and designer Joe Snell, who also shared his insights into modern home design and new-look trends.

Covering six new styles of modern – Box Modern, Mid-Century Modern, Minimalist, Designer Mixed Materials, Modern Coastal, and Scandi Barn – here are the key insights Joe shared from the event.


“Nobody knows how to articulate what they want in a build,” Joe Snell noted at the recent Modern Looks launch event. He’s not far off the mark either! Based on Joe’s experience, he knows Aussies want to design the perfect home for their unique lives, but he believes we may be focusing on the wrong things.

“The general consumer is very knowledgeable about their house in terms of feelings,” he said. “They know they could change the design, but they’re too focused on their feelings. They can’t articulate the architecture of the style, but they canspeak to the light or the view or how it makes them feel.”

It’s Joe’s mission to elevate the average homeowner’s design knowledge by starting from the ground up. “Australians are being taught about colour and cushions, but not the fundamentals.”

Joe’s mission is to help the everyday person to demand more from their home, so they can achieve the lifestyle they deserve.

For example, when discussing the six modern looks at the launch event, Joe said: “The rawness of the materials becomes the aesthetic of the build.”

This is the type of language Joe encourages everyday Australians to arm themselves with – because through first visualising what you want and then verbalising it, you can embrace a modern design that is completely unique to your taste and your lifestyle.


In Joe’s book Your Best Home, he describes how the most important elements of your home make up the 5×5 steps. There are five design steps – space, light, air, sound and view – and there are five main rooms of your home – the entry, living room, kitchen, bedroom and bathroom. By optimising the design through the 5×5 steps, you can create the best home and the best life for yourself. And size doesn’t matter.

“If you get your five key spaces right, you get the house right,” Joe told the audience. “It doesn’t matter if it’s a studio apartment or an 18-bedroom mansion.”


So, what were the most valuable takeaways from the Modern Looks launch? Joe encourages all of us to take a holistic approach to designing our homes – that means:

  • Educating yourself: It’s simple enough to look at a book of home designs and pick one you think you’d like, but what if you had the home-design literacy to be able to describe your own unique vision? Joe said he wants Australians to not settle for just good enough, but to instead “demand more”.
  • Building the right size:Joe believes you can achieve a modern look without falling for the consumerism trap: “Don’t do big for big’s sake.”
  • Using what’s around you: The home is about more than just brick and mortar – it’s about the surrounds and the people passing through your doors. Joe wants homeowners to embrace their life and style in their designs. “Connect to the environment of your build,” he said. Whether you’re going for a minimalist look, modern coastal charm, designer mixed materials or any of the six ‘modern looks’ discussed at the event, it’s all about arming yourself with the right knowledge and developing a holistic plan for your design. Get our Modern Look book here!
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