Inside Selling Houses Australia

Reno Wreck: Charlie's Transformations

Take a walk down memory lane and relive some of the gardening horrors from Selling Houses Australia!

Check out some of these memorable outdoor transformations from resident gardening expert Charlie Albone - 

House 1 – Mitcham

Brian and Jackie had intended to renovate their enormous house but their finances didn’t even stretch to giving it some street appeal. The exterior was so bad that buyers didn’t even want to venture inside. And some of the work Brian had done was downright dangerous – in fact Charlie was able to knock down the wall with a karate kick! The house was on a huge block of land but no one could find the entrance.

Charlie wanted to create a sense of arrival and direct people towards the door, so he built a simple arbour at the front of the house and over the garden path. This added some much needed character and literally led buyers to the door.

Tip – When you want to create various zones in a garden without building a permanent structure, use a simple frame or arbour to divide the areas. You can train plants over these to create different moods and a sense of travelling from one area to another.

Brian’s dodgy fence was next on Charlie’s hit list. It helped to block out the busy road so Charlie built a timber frame onto the existing stone pillars and painted them the same colour for a uniform look. He added a polystyrene based infill panel that not only looked good, but helped with the sound insulation. Then he planted around the perimeter of the fence and house to soften the boundaries between the walls and the ground.

Tip – Greenery has the psychological effect of calming the senses and dulling the impact of a busy road. Use a fast-growing bushy shrub like Lillipilli for maximum effect on a tight budget.

House 2 – Newcastle:

Julie had extended her house to accommodate her elderly parents, but it had spread right out into the garden, which was a concrete jungle full of sheds. There was a pool but that was about all – and it certainly wasn’t a family friendly space as there wasn’t a single blade of grass. The additional building at the side was also blocking all the light from the living space so Charlie’s first job was to pull it down.

Having removed the building, Charlie built a smart new patio – creating indoor/outdoor living with space for a small entertaining area and some much needed grass.

Tip – Before extending your home outwards, think about the effect on the interior; be careful not to block the natural light. An indoor/outdoor room with sliding glass doors can be a great addition to a home as it can be used all year round.

Although the pool was a welcome addition to the house, it took up the entire back yard, so the sheds had to go. The concrete also made the garden very hot so Charlie used a jack hammer to dig it up and then laid grass so there was somewhere for children to play.

Tip – When designing a pool, think of the space. Family homes need a place for children to play and somewhere shady to relax; it’s better to go for a smaller pool and a lawn and entertaining area.

House 3 – Kallangur:

Steve and Louise’s investment property could have been a lovely high-set home but it was in a very bad state and entirely lacking in street appeal. Getting buyers to the front door was a problem as the façade was downright ugly and lacking in architectural interest.

So Charlie’s first mission was to attract the buyers by adding a pergola for interest and protection from the elements. This also framed the front door so buyers immediately knew where to go.

Tip – If your house has a boring exterior, a porch or pergola can add interest as well as being a practical way to introduce people to the home.

Charlie then laid flooring to literally lead people up the garden path. He used large concrete pavers in a mocha colour, which blended in with the existing colours of the house and was a simple but striking solution.

Tip – When considering colour, take your lead from the nearby trees or foliage. That way your house will blend perfectly into its surroundings for a stylish and modern effect.

House 4 – Montmorency:

Alexis and Kylie’s cute character cottage had some lovely features but the house was a wreck. The exterior of the house was a disgusting mustard colour and the garden was completely overgrown. The front garden was on a steep slope and the driveway was treacherous.

Charlie’s first problem was how to transform the place on a miniscule budget, so he decided to reuse everything he could find. The garden was full of bluestone, so he built a few dry stone walls to retain the soil and create terraced areas. He built new stairs out of treated pine boxes then used the old driveway pavers as the treads.

Tip – If you want to get recycled materials on a budget, check out builders’ yards and recycling websites. You may have to dig up pavers and remove bricks yourself but you’ll save a fortune.

The mustard exterior of the house was hideous but it was a huge job to paint the entire front and it was important to get the colour just right. Charlie chose from a range of earthy tones to keep the country cottage feel but bring the house bang up to date.

Tip – If you’re painting a large area, like the exterior of a house, start with sample pots in varying shades of your chosen colour palette. Paint sections and let them dry to see what works best in varying light situations – that way you’ll avoid expensive mistakes.

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