Don’t write off the 80s 90s house

Injecting older homes with a whole lot of style

Mass plantings of natives and exotics create more street appeal and soften the look of this home. Image: Wayne Zantuck Design & Landscape Construction

They were the decades that brought us Madonna, the rubik’s cube, hyper colour t-shirts, He-man and the Masters of the Universe, mobile phones the size of house bricks, frozen yoghurt and acid wash denim.

The 80s and 90s also brought us a style of home many think will be too difficult to modernise. Generally built of brick veneer, this was the era of colonial or faux period styling, often with dark interiors, lower ceilings and exposed beams.

But don’t be put off. With some relatively simple upgrades these properties can really shine, not to mention offer excellent value for money.

What’s great about them?

Concrete slabs

No re-stumping worries or costs.


These homes have it in abundance. Think built-in and walk-in wardrobes, double garages, pantries, hall cupboards and living room units.


The trend towards open plan living was really taking shape so they often have great flow and large spaces (surely no child of the 80s could forget the rumpus room?). You’re also likely to find at least three if not four bedrooms.

Low maintenance

Unlike weatherboard, bricks require almost no maintenance. Unless you want to change the colour they’ll look great while you do nothing, forever.

Ask an expert

We asked three experts for their top tips to lift a classic brick veneer. First up, Landscaper, Wayne Zantuck from Wayne Zantuck Design and Landscape Construction.

“Front garden design in this era relied heavily on feature ornamental trees, often either side of a central path to the front door, with boundary hedges and lots of lawn,” says Wayne.

He suggests moving away from the rigid lines and symmetrical design, softening the lines with some organic curves and using ground covers that assist with passive cooling, preferably low evergreens. He also favours using a more simplified planting schedule, which can create street appeal at the same time as being functional.

“These days we’re more water and climate conscious – gardens need to be bullet proof!” he says.

“We’re replacing lawns with larger garden beds and mass plantings of what we call ‘set and forget plants. Usually a combination of natives and exotics, like grasses that don’t need to be pruned, plants like rosemary or euphorbia that are self doming and ornamental grape vines that grow quickly and are super hardy.”

Wayne also installs ‘living screens’, vertical walls of greenery that are often as simple as two posts strung together with open mesh, wire or other material for plants to be trained through. It’s a quick, low cost solution that delivers both a lush backdrop and more of that all important passive cooling.

Living screens add lush colour and help cool the property. Image: Wayne Zantuck Design & Landscape Construction

Here in Castlemaine Wayne likes to add sculptural elements made from materials with a link to our history.

“We often use steel, stone and red brick in our gardens,” he says. “It’s a great way to tie a dated house to the area.”

Steel and stone features help tie this property to the area. Image: Wayne Zantuck Design & Landscape Construction

Next time, a local builder and interior decorator share their ideas.


Home Office Decor Adds Value

Click the image to check our collection of ideas for home office, studio decoration.

Click the image to check our collection of ideas for home office, studio decoration.

Home offices provide a private spot to get some work done or handle tasks such as bill paying, but they don’t have to be office-like in terms of design. When working on sprucing up your home for the market, consider doing something a bit different with your home office design.

Rather than sticking to a home office filled with neutral tones and sleek furnishings, go for a more vintage look. A cottage-style home office provides a quaint and cozy place to work. Here are some tips on how you can achieve this look:

  • Add an area rug. If your home office has a wood or tile floor, place an area rug with a vintage pattern on it. This adds splashes of color to the room and makes the floor more comfortable.
  • Use a floor lamp. Create more desk space by using a floor lamp rather than a desk lamp. Look for a decorative floor lamp that gives off a warm glow.
  • Hang an oval mirror. You can make your home office look roomier by hanging a mirror on the wall. Choose an oval mirror with a vintage look to go with the overall cottage style.
  • Buy a used desk. Look for an older desk that you can fix up a bit, rather than buying a brand new one. If the desk is in good condition, you might just have to strip it and repaint it.
  • Choose wallpaper. Instead of having plain painted walls, look for wallpaper with a nature theme, such as woodlands or flowers. This should fit in well with your vintage home office design.

Office design ideas from Houzz
Google Images provide inspiration

Making Rooms More Spacious

Small Space SolutionsYou don’t have to renovate your home or add on rooms to make it bigger. Instead, there are plenty of ways to make small areas seem larger than they really are. This will come in handy when you’re ready to sell your home and want to impress buyers.

Here are some ideas for opening up small areas in a home along with some tips for creating and  illusion of space.

  • Hang mirrors. Having mirrors on opposite walls makes rooms appear more spacious. It’s also a good way to reflect more light into the room to make it brighter, which can also make it seem larger.
  • Paint. Painting the walls can make a room look more open when you stick to cool tones or white. Another paint tip is to have the crown molding painted the same color as the ceiling to make the room seem wider.
  • Put in bay windows. Having bay windows installed provides a room with a little more space and a lot more natural light. The added square footage and sunlight will give it a roomier feel.
  • Choose furniture wisely. Keep furniture in smaller rooms simple, so it won’t take up valuable space. Look for taller pieces when buying dressers, entertainment centers or shelving units. These can make your ceiling appear higher, which makes the room itself look larger.
  • Go with streamlined cabinets. Kitchen cabinets with simple lines make rooms look less cluttered than ones with ornate designs. You can make a kitchen look even larger by putting in stainless steel appliances, which provide reflective surfaces.

Opening up small areas in a home doesn’t require a big budget or tons of time. With these ideas, you can easily give your home a more spacious look.

What Seniors Look For In A Home

house-for-saleMore seniors are choosing to buy a new home rather than live in an apartment or retirement community. When looking at homes for sale, seniors should focus on finding one that has had modifications made for aging in place. This makes the home safer and more convenient to live in.

Common home modifications for seniors include: (Note this is an American site but has good points to consider)

  • Grab bars and railings. Having these in shower stalls, next to toilets, and in hallways helps lower the risk of falls.
  • Walk-in tubs. Replacing a standard tub with a walk-in one makes bathrooms safer for seniors. Walk-in tubs allow people to step right into the tub instead of having to step over a lip. Some are even wheelchair-accessible.
  • Wider doorways and halls. Having wider doorways and halls allows seniors with walkers or wheelchairs to move through the house more easily without struggling to get through narrower spaces.
  • Pull out shelves. These shelves roll or slide out of cabinets and other spaces, making it easier for seniors to use them for storage. Having pull out shelves means they don’t have to try to reach into deeper areas.
  • Fixtures that are easy to use. Home modifications for seniors sometimes include light switches that are larger than normal and levers instead of knobs on faucets. These modifications make these fixtures more convenient for seniors to use.
  • Non-skid strips. These strips can go on bathroom and kitchen floors and on stair edges to reduce the risk of falling. They’re easy to install and are often found in slippery areas.
  • Security systems. In addition to alerting residents to a possible break-in, these systems also provide remote monitoring services and can serve as personal emergency response systems for seniors.

Houzz For Interior Design

Houzz features everything from the garden studio to luxurious home design.

Houzz features everything from the garden studio to luxurious home design.

By nearly any measure, Houzz is growing at an incredible rate. The four-year-old online home remodeling and design community has grown to more than 15 million monthly unique users – 90 percent of which are homeowners – and has more than 10 million downloads of its iOS app. On the other side, the platform can boast more than 250,000 designers and contractors across 60 professional categories from architects to carpenters to interior decorators.

But it’s not the sheer number of people using Houzz, be it as a daily obsession or an integral part of their business, that’s so impressive. It’s the level of content that this audience outputs and the rate at which it’s accelerating. Today, Houzz announced that it has surpassed 2 million HD design and remodeling images available on its platform. It took the company more than three years to see the first 1 million images uploaded, and yet it doubled that amount in just the eight months since the beginning of the year.

This growth is significant because it speaks to Houzz’s success in digitizing and organizing the design knowledge that has previously been locked away in the minds of industry professionals, or teased superficially in the pages of glossy magazines. Houzz’s users have flocked to this rapidly growing inspiration library, saving the above images to ideabooks 289 million times, up from just 155 million as of January 2013. All images on Houzz are uploaded by its professionals, who show off their real-world projects, while providing instruction and answering questions from members of the community.

Among the more fun and unusual spaces are 4,479 man caves, 52 indoor climbing walls, 4 indoor slides, 2 mouse houses, and 1 James Bond tree house, according to the company.

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