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...first impressions LAST!

I've mentioned before that a house, just like people, have a story to tell. She has a personality and a story unique to her - my job as a designer is to interpret that story. You may be able to put your home in to a particular chategory of architectural style such as federation, post war, industrial or even the all so popular 'Hampton Style' etc. but in fact, just as us individuals cannot wholely fall in to 'a' particular stereotype, most often neither can your home. The home's history is only part of the story, the other half is the family that lives there - your story.

So ... what does your facade say about you?

We take the time to put on our make up and do our hair - Why? To make our selves presentable and give a good first impression. I feel it also goes a long way to build self confidence. Why does this not always apply to our homes? To your guests the first impression they get of your home is the front of your house. Why then do we not give it that little bit of love to make it shine?

Although specifics for each house would invariably be different, we do have common threads that are basic to any design. Some points to consider when designing your entrance for example would be to

1. Have a clear path to your front door. I have had clients that call me out to do renovations to their homes, and the first bit of advice I give them for free it to cut a clear path to their front door, so people approaching the home don't need to walk through the landscaping to get to it.

2. Define your entry. Its a amazing the number of homes I have been to where I am uncertain where the front door is or how to actually get to it!

3. Have a healthy balance of soft and hard landscaping. Front gardens can either be a pleasure or a pain. Decide what your is to you and design it accordingly.

4. Ensure your facade is not a flat singular surface but has depth to it. Just like a face needs the nose and cheek bones that give it definition and character, it is equally important for the facade of a home.

I've walked passed many a house on the street and thought nothing of it or, have on occation, written it off as someone's poor design. One such house was nicknamed 'the spaceship'. I'd get so upset everytime I saw that house as I could not believe people can be allowed to build such a thing! Little did I know it was owned by a very good friend of mine... Awkward! Anyway it was an investement property that was rented out and she took me through it between tenants - I think I nearly cried when I saw the house. IT WAS SPECTACULAR!!! It was a real stunner with 4 meter high ceilings, deep crown mouldings and beautiful clasical windows. Someone has just come along and slapped on some cheep and nasty cladding on the outside with absolutely no consideration to the inate beauty of that home. Why? Why? Why???

I genuinly believe its not the amount of money you throw at a project that makes it amazing but the care and love put in to it that makes the real difference. This means different things to diffrent people. Often I think of the lady that lived in my house before us and how she would probably be mortified at how we re-did our front yard. She had an obviouse love for plants and gardening whereas I'm well known for killing anything thats green. We chose the low maintenance front yard but I do think it is beautiful and a true reflection of how we as a family live.

More important points to keep in mind when rethinking you facade and front gardens -

1. Landscaping. It doesn't need to be anything elaborate but it should be sharp and snappy. Figure out what purpose you would like ti to serve and how much time and effort you can afford to dedicate to its upkeep and your half way to your solution already.

2. Street scape. A home can be sexy or it can be bla ... I'd choose sexy anyway.

3. Fencing. Don't make the fencing an afterthought. Its very much a part of your design and should be painted with the same brush as the house. It reads together as one so make sure one complements the other.

4. Letterbox. Fiddly little things aren't they? Still, it does contribute to the picture as a whole so give it a bit of thought. Its not a statement on its own, but a piece of the puzzle.

5. Colours. A Dulux fan deck has over 4,000 colours. I'm not saying you need to use them all but, you can afford to think outside the box sometimes. I've mentioned previously that I have a bathroom thats entirely green. I wouldn't however paint the exterior of my house green. I think its safer to save any bold statements for smaller spaces and hold back a bit when it comes to the exterior of your home. Pick one neutral colour for the body of the house, and up to 3 tones of a highlight colour fro accent features such as trims and facias. Although the front of my home is mainly white, the rear extension is entirely black. I think its a decision as to when and where you decide to be bold in your choices.

I do hope some of these thoughts help you on your journey. If ever in doubt though, get professional help before wasting your money on a bad decision. Good luck!

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