“When you take in a home’s frontage, it’s always in the context of nature and neighbouring houses,” says interior designer Martine Cooper. “You don’t need to blend in with everyone else, but you don’t want to stick out for the wrong reasons either. There’s nothing worse than a street lined with weatherboard houses and a spaceship-inspired monolith smack bang in the middle.”
Each couple presented an impressive result. We asked the experts for the most important elements to consider when creating a memorable first impression.
A killer entrance requires a fabulous front door. “It gives us a hint of what’s to come inside,” says Cooper, adding that choices now go beyond a timber stained or painted door. “Commercial and hospitality projects are inspiring our choices, with different colours, profiles and panelling all trending.”
Glass was popular this week, with Kirsty and Jesse and Ronnie and Georgia installing unfrosted versions. While the judges approved of the material choice, they agreed that unfrosted glass cost the home privacy.
“Frosted glass can look tacky so I can understand why they chose clear,” Cooper says. “[But ] the only time clear glass works is when there’s full privacy from the street front provided by tall fences, landscaping or a tucked-away location. Otherwise reeded glass or smaller partitions of glass can provide privacy.”
“You can add instant value to your property with the right front fence,” says designer Sarah Elshaug. “It enhances street appeal, should be in keeping with your home’s architectural style, and be a colour that is cohesive with the neighbourhood.”
Privacy is crucial, so the fence height should be informed by the height of the bedroom windows overlooking the street and passing foot traffic. The material choice is important too.
“Consider how materials will work in the context of any design constraints,” Elshaug suggests. “Look for varieties that will weather well, are structurally solid or more open, can be painted or left raw, or [come] in a mix of materials including brick, metal or timber.”
Ronnie and Georgia’s edible garden complete with a colony of bees, (a first for The Block) impressed the judges, who loved the idea of harvesting honey and sharing it with neighbours.
“Not only does an edible garden reduce food miles, reduce packaging waste and increase the vegetation carbon sink, it also creates an aesthetically pleasing garden,” says Liz Hall of Studio Apercu. “Also, enjoying fresh produce straight from garden to plate is tasty and inexpensive.”
Like any garden, good planning is crucial, and while maintaining it takes time and effort, Hall says it’s worth the benefits. “There are physical and mental health benefits, as well as the variety and interest edible plants can bring to a garden,” she says. “Create one anywhere, from an outer-suburb backyard to a small, inner-city balcony. Just ensure your plants are suited to the location.”
Bricks featured in many guises, from Mitch and Mark’s pavers to Tanya and Vito’s mid-century hit-and-miss brick fence. “It’s a versatile material for front steps, ground pavers, garden edging and decorative garden features,” Hall says. “Bricks bring colour, texture and contrast, and aged bricks add warmth and personality and curbside appeal.”
While Josh and Luke were enthused over their choice of white-painted mist brick, the judges weren’t. “When determining your facade, it needs to suit the home’s overall architectural design, landscaping and the area,” Hall says. “Don’t be too trend-driven. If crucial elements aren’t right, it’s difficult to get a buyer through the front door.”
Hall says the biggest mistake people make when using brick is thinking, “It’s just the garden, we’ll do it ourselves.”
“Unless you have experience laying bricks, and [if] you want your brickwork to last, engage a professional,” she says.
Ronnie and Georgia’s full Colorbond-clad frontage caused gasps of delight from the judges who proclaimed it “modern and elegant”.
“Colorbond can look very architectural, but it’s best mixed with organic exterior materials like brick, timber and stone,” says Cooper. “I love the way many Melbourne homes connect old and new home exteriors with a blend of weatherboard and standing seam [Colorbond]. On its own it can feel a little industrial.”
When choosing a material palette, look for harmonising mediums that work with the streetscape. “Consider what the cladding will protect your home from, then bring all your exterior materials together on a tray to ensure they work together from a colour and textural perspective,” she suggests.