Do you have a charmless brick home you want to change the look of? Is render your only option? Here’s some inspiration …
In this post, I answer a recent question from a member of the UA Community:
“We are considering buying a cream brick 1950s house in a Melbourne suburb that suits us. Let’s face it, it’s a charmless square box with no character and not what we envisaged for ourselves. However it is perfectly fine inside, has a lovely north-facing backyard, with floor to ceiling windows in the lounge. My question is: how do we make it look appealing? Is render the answer? What could we do?”
Watch the video for my simple and cost-effective tips.
You can also read the transcript below:
Hi, It’s Amelia here, The Undercover Architect. I recently got this great question from a member of the UA community. I’m just going to look past the camera and read it. So it says, “We are considering buying a cream brick 1950’s house in a Melbourne suburb that suits us. Let’s face it, it’s a charmless square box house with no character and not what we envisaged for ourselves. However it is perfectly fine inside, has a lovely north-facing backyard with floor to ceiling windows in the lounge. My question is, how do we make it look appealing, is render the answer? What could we do?”
I love this question, because this is all about how can you actually transform these older homes into something that is uniquely yours and is going to work for you and what you had envisaged for your dream home. And it’s possible. You know you can actually make quite significant aesthetic changes to these older style homes. And when they’ve got good bones, like being north-facing, and having really nicely proportioned rooms and a good indoor outdoor connection, a good you know sort of functional flow through the home, it’s really worth having a go at keeping the house and seeing what you could do to make it more contemporary and feel more like you and your home. Render is a really good answer for changing the way that a brick home looks. A lot of people say, you know bricks have come back in fashion, and bricks are all the new rage. But if you look at the bricks that “in fashion” now, they’re actually very different looking bricks to what 1950’s homes were built from.
That’s not saying that you couldn’t actually sometimes keep those brick homes in the 1950’s. If they’ve been really well built, if the brick is a nice colour, if it’s built in a very clean and crisp style, which they often are because their craftsmanship was much better back in those days, because it was expected to be exposed, then you can sometimes leave it. But I know personally with our own renovations and with renovations I’ve done with clients, doing rendering, or bagging, or even painting is an incredible way to completely change the way that a brick home will look. The other thing to then think of is what can you add to the existing house that will change its aesthetic appearance? And let that sort of style of the 1950’s cream box just sort of disappear and recede into the background.
Often these are things that you can add that really significant markers for the home. That then draw your eye, and draw people’s eye to them. And the cream box almost disappears. So what am I talking about? Think about the front garden and the landscape. What can you do for the front path, the way that you enter onto the site and arrive into the home? Can you change the paving of the front path, or the material, or the gravel on the front path? Can you change the landscaping itself, the plant types and the arrangement of the plant types, that then actually change the way that the house looks from the street and your experience of entering the home. Can you change the design and style and materials of the front fence so that again, that changes the way that the house looks from the street.
Can you change the way that the entry porch or or entry alcove feels and looks? Can you add a new roof or awning over the entry that’s much more contemporary in style, and will completely then transform the way that the house looks? Can you change the way the letterbox is? Can you create more of a feature style letterbox that’s much more contemporary? Even can you create an entry statement that’s out on the front fence line that’s almost like a portico entry with its own letterbox and street number, and contemporary lighting and those types of things. Start getting an idea about what do, what landscaping options are available to you? Because they’re going to be much more economical than changing the entire house itself. The other thing to look at is what you can do in terms of possibly adding things in and around the house.
So I mentioned the entry itself, and can you add an entry awning? Is there an opportunity also for you to add, say low entry walls, or something that defines the pathway up to the front door. And then that could be just a little low entry wall even like a little seat on it to sit and enjoy as you arrive at the house, that is part of that experience of arriving at the home to the front door. And that is what you will take notice of, and what people will take notice of, and what will put your stamp on the place, so that the home itself actually almost fades and disappears, and you don’t notice it as much. You can imagine if you took a cream brick house and you painted it a really subtle, soft grey, or something like that. You add quite a nice contemporary entry portico.
You completely change the landscaping. You added a new, contemporary front fence, and you repaved all of the front entry path, how different the home would already look. So there’s some ideas for you. And I hope that you find them helpful. Have a think about that, have a look around online and see what people have done to change the way that the front of their house looks. Another thing is adding screens. And I’ll pop actually an image of a red brick home that we renovated ourselves where we, was a 1960s brick home. We rendered the outside of it, we painted it a dark grey, and then we added some timber screens over the face of some bedroom windows, we added a new letterbox, we did the landscaping and some new features to the front entry. And it just completely transformed the way that that house looked and felt. And it was all very economical, and all very cosmetic. But it did wonders to make the house look like a new, contemporary home. Alright, I’ll see you later! Bye.
Here’s some examples of brick home renos where simple changes have transformed their exteriors.
BEFORE: This 1960s brick home had a tiled roof and exposed brickwork inside and out.
AFTER: Brick sills were chopped off, and the home rendered and painted. Timber screens were added to bedroom windows. New landscaping, a new balustrade to the front porch, and new lighting. Cosmetic renovations that make a dramatic change to the look of this home. See more on this project here.
Turramurra 1950s Brick Bungalow Renovation: New pathways and low landscape walls change the entry. This home has been renovated overall, but you can see that even if the home was still brick it would feel very different with this new landscape treatment to its front garden. [SOURCE]
This 1950s home had a transformational renovation inside and out. Here, at the front, a new covered porch and landscaping changes the way the home looks. Brickwork has been painted, and windows changed. [SOURCE]
Here, a slatted screen has been added over part of the entry, concealing the brickwork. Contemporary street numbers are added, and the door is painted black. [SOURCE]
Render (which could equally be bagging or paintwork), render to the garden walls, new (more sculptural) planting, removal of the balustrade, and a new screen … simple fixes to totally transform the look of this home. [SOURCE]
BEFORE: Mottled brickwork, ornate balustrades and screens, and narrow shutters, all gave this home a particular look and style. [SOURCE]
AFTER: A coat of paint, removal of the shutters, new front doors and light fittings, balustrade removed, and access to the entry porch via new set of stairs … what a difference! [SOURCE]
This is an American Ranch style home – but you can see how the addition of a new roof over the entry porch can transform the aesthetic of the home. That roof could be shaped, designed and detailed in lots of different ways to put your style stamp on your home. Paint and landscaping change the look too. [SOURCE]
Over to you …
Do you have a brick home that looks dated and not your style? Inspired by any of these quick and cosmetic fixes? I’d love to hear your comments – post below.
Other blogs you may find useful …
My favourite reno was the transformation of a 1967 brick Brisbane home. Here’s the 6 lessons it taught me.
Will you paint your brickwork? Here’s how to choose external colours for your home.
And whatever you do, don’t change colours on an external corner! Why not? Here’s why …