Does your home have street appeal?Tips and Advice
Does your home have Street Appeal?
Street Appeal – your home’s either got it, or it hasn’t.
But what is ‘Street Appeal’ and if your home doesn’t have it, how does it get it?
Well read on and I will teach you everything you need to know about making your home more visually appealing to passersby.
Street Appeal explained
Street Appeal as the name implies relates to how attractive your home looks from the street. Some homes ooze street appeal, they are so visually attractive that you find yourself marvelling at their beauty every time you walk or drive down their street.
These are homes that dominate their street; homes by which other houses in the street are judged by. And it’s that extra street appeal that adds real value to such homes. It’s not an exaggeration to say that a high level of street appeal is worth many, many thousands of dollars when it comes time to sell your home.
But achieving true ‘street appeal’ is a real skill and not all Brisbane architects know how to achieve the right look to make a home stand out from the crowd.
Beyond the boundaries
Street appeal actually starts from outside the boundary of your property. The footpath can be the very first ingredient of street appeal. Large, established trees alongside the footpath can be used to enhance and ‘frame’ your home, drawing attention to the details that you want people to focus on, whilst hiding any areas that you feel might detract from the overall visual appeal of your property.
Of course, planting of trees outside of your property will depend on council regulations, but in many areas approval can be gained providing you use trees that are suitable for the area, and that those trees are not going to eventually become problematic for parking, footpath access or overhead power lines.
Fencing do’s and don’ts
Fences are an often overlooked aspect of street appeal, yet they are so important to the overall visual effect. And not all Brisbane architects understand the importance of choosing the right fencing for a particular home.
Your fence obviously has a functional role; it provides a barrier that can be used to keep children and animals in, as well as providing an obstacle to people that you would prefer didn’t enter your property.
But it also has some aesthetic value, in that it can help distinguish one home from another. If you look at a street where all the houses have similar front fences, you soon realise that it’s virtually impossible to make one home stand out from any other. However a fence of the right style, colour and size can make a tremendous impression. The key is to ensure that your fence is high enough to be functional, without blocking the view of your home. Your house needs to remain the dominant feature, and this can’t be achieved if you build an enormous fence that blocks people’s view of your home.
Fences can be even further enhanced by the addition of a gatehouse and appropriate landscaping.
A gatehouse can be a commanding feature in its own right and immediately communicates class to anyone walking past. It focuses the attention on the entry point to your home and gives it a sense of completeness. Some architects in Brisbane may argue that not all homes suit a gatehouse, but there are in fact very few that don’t. You don’t in fact even need a fence or a gate. Simply having a structure that frames the start of your footpath can add real visual interest and appeal to your home.
Planting suitable trees, shrubs, bushes and/or flowers can also add to the appeal of your fence. Climbing vines were once very popular over gatehouses, even more so if it’s one that flowers at certain times of the year. These types of plants still have a place today and not only with older style homes.
Certain types of homes suit a hedge rather than a fence although obviously these can take time to grow and it can be a couple of years before they are looking their best. Low maintenance plants are typically best, as trimming the hedges can become a tiresome task unless you’re particularly into gardening. Obviously with the shortage of water that Brisbane sometimes experiences it’s best to go with a hedging plant that’s not too thirsty.
Hedging plants can act as a suitable deterrent to unwelcome intruders, particularly if they are the spiky variety like the Bougainvillea plant. However, keep in mind that the same spikes that put off intruders will fall into your yard and can easily go through the bottom of your shoe. I have lost count of the number of people I know that have eventually ripped their Bougainvillea’s out because they were sick of getting spiked.
Gates are a great distraction
If there is one truth in the science of street appeal it is that garages simply aren’t sexy. No matter what type of roller doors you place on them, you are best to down play them visually if you want your home to have real appeal.
Placing a gate across your driveway not only takes the eye away from the garage, but it also reduces the visual impact of the driveway itself. Electronic gates are obviously the way to go, as you don’t want to be getting out to open and close the gate each time you come and go, and particularly not if the weather is bad.
By continuing the fencing through to a driveway gate, you can maximise your street appeal and ensure that your home really stands out.
Aspect and orientation
If you have a desirable aspect out the front of your house then it’s wise to take advantage of it. One of the most effective ways of doing this is to integrate the internal areas of your home with the external spaces, thus creating a great indoor-outdoor flow. Of course, if you don’t have a great outlook out your front door, then separating the two areas is preferable, so you don’t lose the appeal of your internal spaces.
The orientation of your home also needs to be considered. If the orientation of your home is poor then the use of sunshades and screen is recommended to enhance your internal comfort levels without the need for excessive heating or cooling. Sunshades and screen that keep the glare off your windows can also add a real visual interest to your home. Gone are the days of daggy multi-coloured striped awnings, today there are a stunning array of options that can add real street appeal to your home.
Depth and perspective
Obviously, if your home is to have real street appeal you can’t afford to have solid blank walls facing out to the footpath. Homes that do this end up looking more like commercial premises than family homes.
It’s important to give the front of your home some ‘depth’ and ‘perspective’ and one of the easiest ways to do this is to use light and shade to create balance and visual interest. If you have a verandah and a good aspect, then it’s important to ensure that your verandah opens out to the street.
A home that is uniquely ‘you’
You can’t claim to have street appeal if your home looks like every other home on your street. Aside from the points that we have already mentioned, one of the easiest ways to make your home stand out is through the use of colours.
The colour of your roof, exterior walls, fences, gates and stairs can all be used to make your home stand out. But it’s vital that the colour stands out for all the right reasons. If you notice people stopping at the front of your home and laughing and pointing, then chances are you’ve got it wrong. But get the colour scheme right and you will almost certainly have people stopping and staring for all the right reasons.
Of course, there may be some limitations on the type of colours you can and can’t use, particularly in some estates. If you’re uncertain of the limitations in your street, it pays to contact us so that we can advise you on what you can and can’t do.
Think first, act second
Achieving true street appeal is something of an art form; get it right and your home will not only look great but it will grow in value; get it wrong, and your home will not only look unappealing, it might also drop in value.
So for those of you who are not artistically minded, I would recommend that you contact my office and have me assist you, at the very least with your design. The amount that you invest in getting the right design and advice up front will very quickly be offset by the value that street appeal can add to your property.
DION SEMINARA, DION SEMINARA ARCHITECTURE
Hi, I am Dion Seminara, practicing architect and licensed general builder for 20 years as well as an environmental sustainable design (ESD) expert. I graduated from Queensland University of Technology (QUT) with honours, QLD in 1989. Registered as an architect in 1991 and registered as a builder in 1992, I am also a fellow member of the Australian Institute of Architects (AIA). Having received 12 ArCHdes Residential Architecture Awards, LJ Hooker Flood Free Home Design Award and the 2016 AIA Regional Commendation for Public Architecture, my expertise with both residential renovation (to all types of houses, especially Queenslanders, 50s/60s/80s), new contemporary homes and luxury residences has earned me a reputation as one of Brisbane's architectural specialists in lifestyle design architecture, interior design and landscape design.