1950s house in urgent need of street appeal

Carolina B
December 4, 2018
last modified: December 6, 2018

Hello there,

I am out of my wits' end, and I need some help after researching for over 6 months...

Beginning January 2018, I moved to a red brick house that was fitting our budget and is close to a good school for my kids. Although I did not like the look of the house (has zero street appeal), I thought that it would not be so hard to touch up. Just google something on Pinterest or Houzz and I would get some ideas (it used to work previously). But big mistake! After more than 6 months, I am still without any ideas on how to improve it! :(

First, I think I need some kind of definition as to where the entrance is. At the moment nobody knows how to enter the house. :|

Second, I would like to add some colour in the form of flowers. Maybe also put some grass at the front?

Third, I am thinking to put a white picket fence at the front and on the sides, to enclose the backyard, wrought iron gates. Or just maybe some steel gates on the side and that is.

But here is my problem, how can I improve the entrance of the house and make it visible and inviting? Should I knock down the porch? How can I create street appeal?

I just find that the shape of the house, the asymmetry of the house is just weird - it feels like something is wrong. Well something is definitely wrong if people are unsure how to enter the house.

Could someone give me some advice as to what I could do? Some ideas, PLEASE!!!!!

Comments (29)

  • bigreader
    I think the house is very sweet. It’s the yard and all the driveway that lets in down. And you could repaint the shed to match the dark house trim.

    Can you create a path from the front to the front that won’t be blocked by a car?

    Your nature strip seems to be incorporated into your yard so I wouldn’t do a fence. Google Peter Fudge for some landscaping ideas that may suit.
  • PRO
    Paul Di Stefano Design

    It just needs better balance...that is there is too much red action going on and no structure to the garden. A more formalised, structured and lush green landscaping will dramatically improve the frontage...and you need to define the pedestrian entry, separated from the driveway side, with the landscaping and position of the front gate.....that's the general comment, for details best seek assistance with a pro landscape designer and make sure you have clarity on your budget

  • PRO
    Dr Retro House Calls

    Yes, I agree with bigreader. It is more of a landscaping issue than a building issue. The brick paving is all about the cars, and not enough visual clues for visitors on foot. Don't knock down the porch as it currently gives the only visual clue for the direction that visitors need to head in. I would probably reduce the brick paving by about 50% so it looks less like a massive driveway which will give you some opportunities for planting beds. The current planting looks like it is past its use by date and doesn't really work well with the style of your home. Definitely time to call in a professional with flair and understanding of your period home.

    Transformation of a 1950's ranch · More Info

    Best of luck

    Dr Retro

    of dr Retro House Calls

  • KK1000
    Definitely a lot going on there. I can’t see direct footpath to front door, that is the first think I would add, relocate your Frangipani tree so the entrance is visible. Remove small pots and clutter and definitely get some professional help. I would not build a white fence , plant some hedge instead like Murraya or Photinia red robin, or Westringia bushes planted close so they form a low hedge . They all need pruning couple times a year to keep them at certain size.
  • PRO
    Luke Fry Pty Ltd

    Hi Carolina,

    There is nothing wrong with a classic red brick clinker, great purchase! Some good ideas have already been suggested, but the issue definitely lies with your landscaping. The car in the front yard has got to go and, yes, a defined pedestrian approach to the entry would make a huge difference. I'd suggest doing some research into finding a good landscape architect to help.


  • JE C

    I think your house can look great with the right landscaping and agree with most of the previous comments above. Depending on how the rest of your street looks, I would consider a dark fence of the type that will almost "disappear" when a lowish neat hedge is planted behind it ( see first 2 pics below). Also a pedestrian gate and path to front door. I think it can be a lovely home.

  • PRO
    MB Design & Drafting

    Landscaping. Landscape designers are quite cheap!! A great design easily $1000-2000 for plans that anyone can work from. You can spend more but ours is fantastic. Avoid hard spaces such as paving and concrete as much as possible because these are usually the most expensive. Soft landscaping is great value for money, plants are cheap! The key is the design and the plant schedule.

    House looks great, coat of paint to timber work and do the maintenance jobs only.

  • siriuskey

    Good advice above, you can just use Black swimming pool fencing and plant a hedge behind it, As JE C suggested a separate pedestrian entrance, and either continue the fench beside the driveway and add a gate at the end next to the house for easy access to and from the car. Or jusr fence and hedge across the front of the yard and have a large automatic sliding gate that goes across the driveway and pulls back behind the fence, this could be made with the same material as the fence, very rough examples of what a fence might add to your house

  • julie herbert
    Excellent ideas siriuskey and JE C
  • julie herbert
    Hi Carolina,
    Love the above ideas re fence and adding a gate, by relocating your letter box to the front gate that will guide people to your entrance, a black fence would look fab with your house, lots of lush planting , hedges, magnolias, ornamental pears along side fence and I think you will have a gorgeous house and garden
  • JE C
    Oooh I love that first photo Julie, this is going to look great :)
  • Maursie
    Do you use the chairs and table? I just love sitting out the front of our home engaging with passers by if not I would take it away. The landscape ideas are spot on the frangipani can be moved for sure a builder said to us years ago embrace the style you have saved us a fortune. I reckon your home is great defiantly paint the shed darker.
  • siriuskey

    I should have mentioned i my prior comment that I would transplant the Pony Tail plant to somewhere else in the garden and keep the Frangipani (which can be trimmed) for summer shade and the beautiful perfume it gives

  • oklouise

    i love your house but have to disagree about some of the car comments as, depending on your street, off street parking with a reversing bay can be such a bonus for your self and visitors...my suggestions would be to keep most of the paving and create a distinct pedestrian entry courtyard (recessed front gate (allows the front gate to be tall to match the courtyard fence, tall light post, letterbox and street number) separate to the car spaces with an internal courtyard fence and replace the existing porch with a simple flat roofed verandah extending almost to the side fence (check local council regs) with a side gate (move the bins to the driveway side) add some height with tall narrow evergreen shrubs (pittosporums or camelias?) and all white trim and front fence (white pickets with square posts no fancy finials) with matching gates, black? front door, side fences and courtyard walls and fresh green and white evergreen plantings (agapanthus native vilotes etc ) in contained garden beds but remove the narrow garden beds near the house and replace with salvaged pavers and add big pots with the old succulents in strategic locations and pressure clean all the bricks, pavers and concrete driveway and consider an electric driveway gate...something like this but not to scale

  • JE C
    You raise a good point OKL, which is whether all that current parking space is needed. If not then I would personally get rid of the bay, and have a lovely garden, but it depends on priorities.
  • Maryanne Franco

    We had a similar problem and we painted the roof a dark Charcoal colour and changed the the windows and guttering to a Colourbond colour called Windspray..

  • Jessica Davies

    Depending on your budget, recladding is amazing. We have a 1950s redbrick house. It was reclad a few years ago using resene rockcoating. Ill attach photos for your comparrison.

  • pottsy99

    Agree with most of the above points , EXCEPT most of the fence comments .

    I'd trim all the bushs , paint the existing fences charcoal/black , but where I differ is that I would try and get the same bricks as your house , and the white cement/grout , and do a low 500-600mm high front fence , square pillars every 2 metres 800mm tall , with a sloping square cap on top ( painted the same green in a year or so when its weathered a bit ) the same colour as the gutters .

    And try to colour match the garage , as mentioned -- mostly the brick red , with the green around the door jamb , and the door itself in cream . If you think that will be too hard to keep clean , then do the jamb in white , the door green , but personally , I'd try for more cream .

  • PRO
    Daniel Lindahl Architecture

    Carolina, The something wrong that you sense but can't quite put your finger on is the porch roof. You need a roof there, but the front of it is covered by planting so you come in from the gable side where there is furniture obstructing your path, so no clear entry signals. Others have already mentioned there is way too much brick red and paved surfaces. I disagree about a fence to the street, but if you can successfully transplant the frangipani and grass tree further to the left, in a lawn area, you can have a clearly defined path of pavers heading straight for the entry.

    If the budget permits, I would rebuild the entry roof as a flat roof up just under the gutter line, with a more substantial corner column (the spindly water pipe post looks all wrong) and with no brick base to it, just a simple, welcoming entry, with hints of a more private cool garden to the left as visitors arrive.

  • olldroo

    A quick and easy solution would be to take up some bricks if you can from the frangipanni garden to the front boundary and add garden to define the entry walkway from the car parking. Then add a nice archway with a flowering climber growing over it and even incorporate your street number to announce the entrance. You could move your letterbox there also but unfortunately postman's bikes can do damage to any landscaping you have there.

    Don't even think of painting your brick, it is the whole character of the house. I just read on Houzz too that red bricks are coming back in.

  • littlethommo2 .

    I think the symmetry of your house is very easy to work with, front door in the middle and matching window either side. But there is a lot of paving that seems to lead to nowhere on the left side of your house and bypasses the front door so I can see why guests get lost, maybe you could remove some of the paving on the left so it just goes to the front door and no further. And move the tree and its little garden so you can see the front door and use some of the pavers here to fill it in. It doesnt matter if guests need to walk to your front door from the driveway so long as the pathway to the door is well defined, you could use low hedging like japanese box or escallonia as these are excellent for lining paths and edging small gardens as like a mini-wall they define boundaries and add structure.

    I love the brick colour and your big matching windows are a lovely feature so I would highlight these, window awnings and window boxes are excellent for adding some street appeal and character to the front of your home. I recently had a window box custom made to about 1.8m length, add some trailing geraniums and variegated ivy and watch the transformation. Great too if you dont want garden beds hard up against the house walls.

  • N83
    As others have said, it's all about balance. Firstly, replace the seemingly pointless area of paving to the left of the door with turf while keeping the sandstone garden edging. If you need the parking bay in front of the house reduce it down to in line with the corner of the house and make the garden in front of the house deeper by removing more pavers. If you don't need the parking bay get rid of it all together and turf that area. To make the front door easier to find remove everything in that garden to the right of the Frangipani (which needs some selective pruning) and then run a path from the footpath (or steppers) to the porch. I would also place a feature plant in a pot to the left of the front door to draw the eye and paint the door a lighter colour so it stands out. Lastly, a feature tree in the garden to the left near the Wooly Bush to add some height to that side of the garden.
  • daf Marie
    Clean up small granny pot plants scattered, remove all undergrowth of native plants, keeping just a few major trees.
    A nice neat clipped hedge, with path to door.
    Change blinds in Windows to something cream, maybe shutters? (They r too dark).
    PS. it's a really cute place! IT could be Devine.
  • Carolina B

    First of all, I would like to THANK everyone for your input. I really appreciate that ALL OF YOU have been so kind for posting something and have given me a lot of ideas.

    My husband and I have been discussing all your comments and we need to discuss it further. There are many things that we did not consider and this has been an eye opener.

    I think we will stick with the red bricks on our house to try and keep the charm, as perhaps this is its biggest asset. And I can see, thanks to all your comments, that a well planned garden can do and will do wonders to this place and it might transform the ugly duckling into a nice swan?! :)

    But what has been the best part of all your posts is that you have given me some HOPE!

  • olldroo

    Carolina, just had a further thought, you could define the entrance just past where the car is parked and using plants for a screen, create a very usable courtyard. A shade sail until plants grow would give you privacy from your neighbours and you have a great outdoor entertaining area there. I had that type of courtyard in my old house and it got a lot of use, was a great place to sit and chat over coffee or drinks, we even had meals there, the joeys had their birthday parties there when they were little and there was somewhere for adults to sit and chat too, it was an extra playroom in nice weather and it was just as useful for entertaining their friends when they were in their teens.

  • JE C

    Hi, You were contemplating changing the porch. Personally I wouldn't as this is original and consistent with this age and style of house. I think by using landscaping to define the entry better you will be able to make it a more obvious entry.

  • sujo20

    Hi Carolina, I start by changing the dated green trim to a modern dark grey.

  • Jo Pat

    I would think about doing an open drive through pergola on the driveway side joined to the house with some deciduous vines(wisteria,hardenbergia,ornamental grape) It would soften the whole look from the street.

  • olldroo

    Wisteria have very invasive roots - not a good idea in that space.