Turning a 1970s brick box into something special

Turning a 1970s brick box into something special

Often solidly built and spacious, many homes built in the 1970s just need TLC and some modernisation to bring them up to current aesthetic standards. A quick scan across most suburban neighbourhoods will confirm there are thousands of 1970s ‘brick boxes’ dotted around suburbs all over Australia. Smart planning and design can see them transformed into modern, liveable homes with plenty of pizzazz.

Brisbane architect and Family Home Experts founder, Rebekah Hurworth, has some tips for turning one in to something special.

brick house renovation

Think outside the box

The addition of some external design features can make a homely square or rectangle more appealing.

“Consider adding a veranda, a pretty carport with some nice details or even a lovely fence and gatehouse,” Hurworth says. “These features all sit in front and can add character and visual depth.”

Bye bye bricks

De rigueur in its day, the 1970s exposed brick look is polarising and these days it has more haters than lovers. The colour and texture of your bricks can also place your home in a particular style and era.

Rendering is a great way to erase the ’70s date stamp and bring your home forward several decades, Hurworth adds.

“It provides a dramatic visual effect and opens up a lot more options because you can pick any colour scheme you like.”

Open up

Open plan living spaces spilling out to an outdoor entertaining area or deck is the standard layout for an Australian home in the twenty-first century. Not so back in the disco era when a series of separate rooms, including a little-used formal lounge and dining room with no connection to the outside, was often the order of the day.

Knocking out a few walls can make a big difference to the spaciousness and flow of a 1970s home, Hurworth says.

“Pokey rooms can become more generous, while putting in some large folding doors and a back deck can give the home a focus and add wow factor.”

Fittings and floors

Dated tiles and old-style linoleum can be difficult to revitalise, particularly if they’re in the 1970s signature shades of orange, brown and avocado. Consider replacing them with modern alternatives – polished concrete or a floating timber floor – Hurworth suggests.

Similarly, fittings and design features that haven’t stood the test of time – pina colada from the living room bar, anyone? – should be removed ruthlessly.

Work with what you have

Not everything from the ABBA era is bad. Tweaking some of your period features and keeping the rest can be a good way to go, if you don’t have the energy or budget to embark on a wholesale renovation exercise.

“Look for places where you can make the old new again, rather than ripping it out,” Hurworth says.

“For example, a raked pine ceiling has a terrible ’70s vibe, but paint it white and suddenly it’s very up-to-the-minute Hamptons.

“Or you can play up the ’70s theme with some cool retro furniture and accessories – think seagrass seats, a shag pile rug or some macramé wall hangings – as long as you have enough modern elements to balance them.”

DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this article is correct at the time of publishing and is subject to change. It is intended to be of a general nature only. It has been prepared without taking into account any person’s objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on this information, Smartline recommends that you consider whether it is appropriate for your circumstances. Smartline recommends that you seek independent legal, financial, and taxation advice before acting on any information in this article.