Hume Doors & Timber’s new style guide is aimed at making business better.

Decision fatigue is a real phenomenon in which people start to feel confused and unwell after having to – you guessed it – make a lot of decisions. Doctors call it a state of mental overload, and most of us have experienced it at least once.

For people building a new home or renovating an existing one, it can be a daily occurrence. Trying to decide on something as basic as a tap can mean looking at hundreds of different models available in a range of configurations, colours and combinations with other products. You find one that looks perfect, then realise it won’t fit the space or the rest of your kitchen. Back to square one.

Hume Doors & Timber have been providing doors to consumers and builders for 70 years and the team there has seen a lot of clients struggle with decision fatigue, particularly in recent years as the range has grown. Hume’s elegant new solution is an easy-to-use style guide that matches each door to specific types of homes.

Every door Hume produces has been categorised into one or more styles. “We spent a lot of time looking at the major house styles our project builders have on their books,” says Ian Sengstock, marketing manager for Hume Doors & Timber. “They broke down fairly neatly into broader categories, which we were able to edit into five timeless styles that encompassed practically every home and door.”

The five style brackets are: Modern, with its clean mid-century lines that work for multiple decades with little colour tweaks; Scandi, where minimalist urban luxe meets cosy bright light; Hamptons, with its monied casual coastal vibe; Industrial, for everything from warehouse renos to polished concrete chic; and Classic, which suits heritage home renos, inner city terraces and even some new country builds.

Each style has its own colour icon. The new Hume catalogue has those icons at the top of each door listing, so customers can see at a glance whether or not the door is designed for their style of home. Some doors, such as the geometrically elegant Accent interior door, will work with most home styles, while others, like the Haven entrance door, have a specific vibe (Hamptons in this case).

“It was a fun project,” Sengstock says. “I was quite heavily involved in selecting the genres, but there’s been significant input from team members across the company. From the start of research to this first implementation was probably about six months. Now our focus is on helping our customers learn how to use the style guide and implementing it into more parts of our business. Next up is our point-of-sale materials!”

The right choice, fast

“We’re hoping to make everyone’s life a bit easier,” says Sengstock. “The builder, the client and us. When you build a home, you’ve traditionally spent a huge amount of time looking through countless catalogues and trying to imagine what each item would look like in the finished home. Just in terms of our products, we have a lot of doors.

“Now, you can say, ‘My house is Hamptons style, so I just need to look for the blue H icon.’ There are still options, but you’ve narrowed down your work significantly.”

It’s already cut back the number of “I’m confused, can you help?” calls the Hume sales team receives, and their major clients are also seeing an improvement in the speed and certainty of client decisions.

“We’ve had very positive feedback from our builders,” Sengstock says. “Especially when they first got their hands on the guide and really started to use it. They could immediately see how much it simplified the process for their clients.

“Previously, it was a case of wading through multiple catalogues or spending hours in a showroom. Now, the builder gives them a single catalogue and they know to go to the specific icon and choose from that selection of doors.

“There are still some decisions to make,” he adds. “Most doors have several design options and there are glass and door face choices – but it gives the customer who’s building the home an idea of what they want before they get in there. We’ve noticed a significant downturn in changed orders and returns, because the initial order is more considered and fits in better with the final design.”

The vast majority of designs can also be made in custom sizes and there are multiple BAL-rated designs for homes in areas that require BAL compliance.

The company also has an extensive sustainability program that includes using timber certified as sustainable by credible bodies (such as FSC, PEFC and AFS) and low-VOC adhesives recommended by the Green Building Council in its manufacturing process. Packaging is kept to a minimum and both recylcable and recycled where possible, deliveries are planned to minimise transport and the plant uses rainwater captured on site.

“Most people live with their doors for many years,” says Sengstock. “We want them to be sure they’ve made the right choices. That includes being happy with the environmental credentials and the performance of the door: it’s not just about looks.”

Future thinking

Sengstock isn’t worried about the style guide dating quickly. “Fashions shift, but in homes, that’s paint colours and throw cushions,” he says. “The types of homes we build in Australia have been consistent for a long time.”

Style is one of the few things that has been predictable of late. As an Australian manufacturer, Hume Doors & Timber has fared better than most businesses over the pandemic when it comes to supply.

“We’ve been very fortunate,” Sengstock says. “The company has always been run with stock control at a level that’s quite high; we very rarely run close to the break line. So when things went pear-shaped, we had a fair amount of product up our sleeve, which was great. Like everyone else, we’ve definitely had some challenges, but none of the horror stories you hear elsewhere.”

However, like so many businesses, there are staffing problems. “That’s one challenge I think all Australian businesses have at the moment,” says Sengstock. “We’ve automated our processes to a degree, but there’s only so much you can do there. We’d still need people to program the machines, to move the product, to sell it and keep up with all the admin, even if we became more like a car manufacturer and had more robots than personnel on the floor.”

Which is frustrating, because orders are already up and Hume could be producing more if it had access to additional labour. “For all that there are fewer detached housing starts at the moment, we’re unlikely to see any downturn till probably late this calendar year because of the amount of work flowing through,” Sengstock says.

“Even then, it’s not easy to predict. The last time the bubble burst in home building, it hammered the framing sector, but we more or less missed the slide. The demand for fitting out new homes and renos flowed on after the boom and then restarted pretty quickly. We’re more insulated from downturns than many other parts of the chain.”

There’s much more certainty around the style guide. It will expand and connect across Hume’s marketing over the next year or so, with each iteration being simpler to use. “We’ve started with an interactive PDF, says Sengstock. “So if you click on the range in the contents page, it will take you straight to the product that you want. And then you can always click the logo to go back to the contents page.

“Future iterations will be tied into the website redevelopment we’ll be doing later this year, with the ability to narrow down your options with a few simple clicks.”

There’s also the prospect of Hume working with coatings suppliers to highlight a range of appropriate paint and stain colours for each style, making life even easier for homeowners. “We’ve got quite a bit of content on these styles,” Sengstock says, “and most of them have a specific colour palette that dictates that type of style, which you could use to guide your paint, furnishings and accessories choices.

“For example, with the Hamptons look, there are many different styles within that style. You can go Classical Hamptons or Beach Style Hamptons, even Rustic. Each is defined by a particular colour palette and where you use it. All that sort of content and showing our builder and homeowner customers how to use it could be something we roll out in Stage Two of the guide: it’s all there, waiting for us!”

For more and to download the Style Guide, visit

Image: Hamptons’ coastal charm is exemplified by Hume’s Haven entrance door.