Latest Alfresco/Landscaping Posts

All
Awards
Market Insight
News

Seven Unique Features for Every Aussie Home

Home ownership was once the Great Australian Dream.

And for many, it still is. It just often looks a little different these days.

No matter what type of home you live in, big or small, there are some things you just can’t live without. 

So we’ve compiled seven must-have features for every Aussie home.

 

The ‘Barbie’

No backyard, or balcony, is complete without a classic Aussie barbecue. It’s a must-have for easy week-night dinners, summer weekend gatherings, and of course the traditional Boxing Day barbie.

Whether you’re feeding the family or entertaining guests, creating an outdoor entertaining area to host your barbecues can be a lot of fun.

These days, barbecue areas and outdoor kitchens can include everything from big screen TVs to hot tubs and even the kitchen sink! 

Decorative concrete can be used to add extra wow factor to your space, crafting anything from the floor to benchtops, pizza ovens, tables and more. 

 

Swimming Pool

Is it really an Aussie summer without a swimming pool

Many of us have fond memories of childhood summers spent in the water.

Whether it was in our own backyard, a neighbour’s or a visit to the town pool, there’s probably also many a memory of scorching hot concrete and scraped knees. 

Australian homeowners are now designing gorgeous pool surrounds with Geostone’s decorative concrete range, offering unique designs, styles and colours in a range of modern finishes.

These functional pool surrounds offer natural slip resistance to ensure a safe and practical solution, while being comfortable underfoot, and maintaining a welcoming and timeless design.

 

The ‘Pool Room’ 

In the words of Darryl Kerrigan, “this is going straight to the pool room”.

Whether or not you own a billiards table doesn’t really matter. Maybe you call it a den. Or a man cave. But every Castle should have a space for showcasing those treasured possessions.

For that little extra ‘vibe’, a polished concrete floor will help to set the scene. 

And given polished concrete is more affordable than you’d think, there’ll be no need to ‘tell him he’s dreaming’. 

Both durable and easy to clean, Geostone’s polished concrete flooring achieves a balance of style and practicality. 

And with a wide range of colours and styles on offer, you’re sure to find the perfect mix for your Pool Room.

Ahh, how’s the serenity?

 

Verandah 

Every Aussie home needs a verandah out the front.

Whether you use the space for entertaining guests, a welcoming entry, or simply enjoying a good book in your old rocking chair, verandahs have long been a mainstay of Australian home design. 

Similar to other outdoor areas like patios and balcony areas, verandahs can also enjoy the benefits of a concrete surface

Add in some pops of colour and foliage to the surrounding area, along with Geostone’s exposed aggregate or honed concrete, to provide that finishing touch to the overall look and feel of your Aussie verandah.

 

Hills Hoist 

The ultimate Aussie home wouldn’t be complete without a clothesline out the back.

An iconic Australian invention, the Hills Hoist has long been a feature of many a backyard.

Although perhaps not the most aesthetically pleasing feature of a home, the clothesline is practical. And there’s a certain sense of nostalgia associated with fresh white sheets blowing in the wind.

To ensure the clothesline remains practical, it’s important to make sure it isn’t neglected in an overgrown or muddy area of the yard. 

Creating a decorative concrete path and landing area with Geostone provides clear access from the house to the clothesline, while also creating defined zones in your landscaping.

 

The Shed 

Even if you’re not the handy type, space for extra storage can really come in handy, which is why outdoor sheds have always been a staple of the classic Aussie home. 

Whether you use it as a workshop, storage, or a place to keep your tools, you will want a hard and durable floor surface that is easy to clean and can withstand the test of time

You can choose from Geostone’s exposed aggregate, polished, honed or coloured concrete, with each offering a range of colours and finishes to meet your needs.

 

Entertainers kitchen 

Australians love food, and entertaining, so the kitchen has always been the heart (and belly) of the Aussie home. 

The once humble home kitchen has had a makeover in modern times, with many homeowners embracing chef grade appliances and high-end finishes to create the ultimate entertainers kitchen.

A spacious, effective and functional kitchen space can also be complemented by outdoor dining extensions such as an outdoor kitchen or alfresco entertaining area

Designing the perfect floor plan is integral to the success of your kitchen and if you’re renovating on a budget, you don’t have to compromise on style in favour of functionality or price with eostone decorative concrete.

. . . 

With so many options and variations for creating classic Aussie home designs, we hope you’re inspired by these must have features. 

For more information and inspiration about renovations, building and concrete installation, explore our article archive.

Geostone 101 – Creating beautiful outdoor areas with concrete 

Holcim’s range of Geostone decorative concrete offers an endless array of applications, with exclusive regional colour and stone selections unique to each local area. 

We have created this two-part mini-series to answer frequently asked questions about Geostone decorative concrete for both indoors and out. 

In Part 2, we explore popular outdoor applications for Geostone decorative concrete, from traditional paths and driveways, to entertainment areas and pool surrounds.

 

What is Geostone? 

Geostone is a decorative concrete range by Holcim with options in exposed aggregate, polished and honed concrete, and coloured concrete.

Geostone combines the integrity of concrete with the uniqueness of Australian stone to create the perfect solution for contemporary yet classic driveways, pathways and pool surrounds, as well as indoor and outdoor applications.

The range is designed to assist the homeowner, architect, designer and builder to create spaces that are both functional and beautiful. 

Geostone’s aggregates are sourced from the local area of each supply region, and blended with decorative concrete available in a wide range of colours.

 

How can Geostone be used Outdoors?

Driveways

They say first impressions last – which is why one of the most popular uses for Geostone decorative concrete is the driveway

Exposed aggregate is the material of choice for most driveway projects, allowing homeowners to select a colour and stone combination to suit the style and colour scheme of their home.

Geostone also gives you the option to restore or build a new driveway, with benefits for both methods depending on your circumstances.

While it is possible to lay Geostone over an existing surface, a well-prepared foundation will always provide the longest lasting results for your decorative concrete. 

When it comes to cost, it will largely depend on the size, shape and location of the project, with seasonal changes and weather conditions that might influence the best time to renovate your driveway.

If compiling a checklist for renovating your driveway, ensure it adds street appeal to the exterior of your home, and make sure its durable enough to stand the test of time.

 

Pathways

Geostone doesn’t have to end at the driveway. 

You can use Geostone decorative concrete to create a welcoming flow with pathways extending from the streetfront connecting to other areas of your home and garden. 

Geostone’s exposed aggregate and honed decorative concrete are perfect for creating safe walking surfaces.

Pathways can be stylish and practical at the same time, so think of them as a continuation of everything you love about the outdoor space. 

 

Entertainment Areas 

Designing the perfect outdoor entertainment area involves a combination of planning, zoning, connecting and decorating everything to create a unified look. 

And it all starts from the ground up.

Geostone decorative concrete allows you to create attractive concrete patios, which are safe, durable and can add value to your home. 

You can choose a colour, pattern or texture that complements the surrounding area for a completed look and stylish flow.

Outdoor areas are exposed to the elements, but weatherproofing your outdoor area can be easily achieved with Geostone’s exposed aggregate, coloured concrete, and honed concrete.

For entertaining guests, you might also consider creating an outdoor kitchen, providing a great opportunity for unique concrete applications that you may not have thought of, like a concrete benchtop or sink.

 

Pool Surrounds 

The seamlessness of a concrete pool deck is hard to beat, as it can be versatile, durable, and most importantly slip resistant.

Geostone’s decorative concrete is comfortable underfoot, and can be applied to pool areas as exposed aggregate for a textured finish, or honed concrete for a smooth and slick surface.

 

Gardens

Concrete is one landscaping material that has stood the test of time. And Geostone’s range of decorative concrete makes it beautiful.

From custom steps to retaining walls and garden beds, Geostone can be used to transform any outdoor area. If you’re limited on space, think vertically, with green garden walls that not only look great, but can serve a functional purpose through privacy screening or noise reduction.

Plants, flowers and edible gardens can really liven up your outdoor area, complemented with neutral coloured Geostone garden beds, pots and other decorations to tie the space together.

 

Understanding the Geostone Process

So you think you’d like Geostone for your project, but you’re not sure where to start?

We’ve put together this handy guide to help.

1. Choose your Geostone finish

Firstly, select from Geostone’s Exposed Aggregate, Polished Concrete, Honed Concrete or Coloured Concrete options, which are unique to each region.

2. View the range available in your area 

You can use the Regional Selector on our website to view the range of mixes and colours available in your local area, all from the comfort and convenience of your home.

3. Visit your nearest display centre 

To see samples in person or to speak to one of our colour consultants, visit your nearest Geostone display centre, where you can discover the Geostone range.

4. Find an approved installer and finisher in your region

Once you’ve chosen your preferred Geostone mix, you can use our website to find an approved installer and finisher in your local area. Installers will first work to prepare the project site, then lay, spread and compact the concrete, while finishers prepare the concrete to your chosen finish.

5. Request a quote 

To request a quote or learn more about Geostone, send your project details and postcode to our team. When you are ready to proceed with your project, the Geostone team will help to finalise your order and can assist with arranging trades for installation and finishing.

Read Geostone 101 Part 1 for information about the indoor applications of Geostone. 

Designing an Entertainer’s Dream

Designing an entertainer’s dream home can be a colourful and creative experience.

It’s a chance to design a space that reflects your personal style and celebrates your passion for entertaining friends and family – whether that’s with epic backyard barbecues, patio parties or fancy dining room dinners.

The possibilities extend far beyond renovating the kitchen or adding on an alfresco area. You could go big and bold, minimalist and understated, or somewhere in between.

To help you create the perfect space for your style, we’ve asked our experts for their top tips on designing an entertainer’s dream.     

 

Driveways and Paths

It might not be the first area that springs to mind when you think of entertaining, but the first impression of your home starts at the driveway and path to the front door. 

You can create a welcoming aesthetic with landscaping, gardening, curated greenery and florals, and driveway and pathway materials that complement your home’s colour scheme. Geostone’s Exposed Aggregate range is ideal for driveways and garden paths and is available in a range of colours and stone selections unique to each region and suited to a wide range of colour schemes while blending seamlessly with the natural surrounds.

 

Floors

Before deciding on your new two-door fridge or double oven combo, you’ll need to turn your eyes and thoughts to the floor.

Geostone’s Polished Concrete flooring is durable and ideal for spills, being easy to clean, resistant to stains, and requiring less maintenance over its lifetime compared to some other floor coverings. That means no restrictions on serving red wine or black coffee; your guests can enjoy their meals and drinks while you enjoy peace of mind.

Colour

Neutral and earthy tones are popular colour schemes for modern homes. But don’t be afraid of adding pops of colour to create a statement that wows your guests. Our Colour Consultants recommend finding a feature colour you love, then integrate it throughout your entertainment area in decor, appliances and surfaces such as bench tops and flooring.

 

Layout

The ideal entertainer’s home allows you to stay engaged with your guests while cooking for them. You might like to consider installing a concrete island bench top with forward facing cooktops. This will make the time you spend in the kitchen more of a social event, and won’t see you ducking back to the kitchen every few moments. 

It’s easy to keep the party going with an open plan kitchen and dining space, which allows for conversations to drift between multiple areas of the home and can create a better sense of unity.

 

Outdoor Kitchens

The great outdoors provides a perfect backdrop for entertaining guests, so why not have a kitchen outside too? When it comes to appliances, pizza ovens and barbecues are always a hit, making the showmanship of cooking all part of the entertainment. 

When installing appliances on a patio or deck, follow professional advice for placement and installation to allow for appropriate ventilation.

 

Alfresco Dining

Considering the comfort of your guests should take top priority when designing an outdoor dining space. If you have the room to move, you might like to create several seating areas such as a large dining table with a separate outdoor lounge. If you’re working with a smaller space, opt for a compact table and chair setting that’s suitable for both dining and relaxing, while accenting the area with plants and other greenery. 

Fire pits and sunken lounges away from the main dining space are also popular features for entertainment areas.

Landscaping

Those with polished concrete floors indoors can continue the home’s aesthetic outside with an elegant indoor-outdoor flow for continuity and cohesion. 

Geostone’s Exposed Aggregate, Coloured Concrete and Honed Concrete ranges are ideal for outdoor applications, designed specifically for outdoor use and built to last in most weather conditions.

 

Pool Surrounds

A swimming pool is a showcase feature of many Australian backyards and entertaining areas – so it shouldn’t be neglected. Stunning pool surrounds can be achieved with materials that compliment and enhance your home’s aesthetic. Geostone’s decorative concrete range is designed specifically to function in wet areas, so your pool area will remain slip-resistant and easy to clean, while maintaining great visual appeal for years to come.

Whether you entertain guests occasionally or often, consideration of the ways you plan to use the space will help you design a true entertainer’s dream.

For more information and inspiration about renovations, building and concrete installation, explore our article archive.

Knowing When Not to DIY

DIY renovations can save time and money, but the key to a successful project is knowing when to call in the professionals.

Sometimes knowing when not to DIY can be even better for the budget. Having professionals take care of the work means you can rest easy knowing you won’t have to go back and do it again.

In fact Domain reports that Monday is the busiest day for Australian tradespeople, fixing up botched DIY jobs from the weekend.

If you’re renovating on a budget, there are plenty of ways to cut costs without compromising on quality.

Opting for hardwearing, low-maintenance and durable materials such as polished concrete floors, exposed aggregate driveways and honed concrete pool surrounds are just some of the ways you can save money in the long term.

So which areas do you do yourself, and what do you leave to the experts? To help you decide, we’ve compiled some tips on knowing when not to DIY.

 

Landscaping and Outdoors

Exposed aggregate is a popular material choice for driveways, paths and walkways, and requires professional installation techniques to ensure the right finish, and a long-lasting, durable surface.

If you’re planning to install and maintain a concrete driveway for example, getting it right the first time by hiring a professional installer, can prevent costly repairs and maintenance down the track.

If you’re planning on  pouring concrete over an existing surface, it’s also a job best left to the experts. It is possible, in some cases to save time and money, but you will need to weigh up the risks with your installer to determine if it will pay off in the long run.

Approved Geostone installers prepare the area where your Geostone concrete is to be placed and then lay, spread, compact and finish the concrete, which includes exposing the stone in exposed aggregate projects, or honing and polishing for a smooth finish.

Professional concrete preparations also include erection of formwork and the placing of steel reinforcement and control joints to help ensure your concrete remains sturdy and strong.

 

Electricals

Lighting is one of the most popular ways to refresh the look of your home during renovations.

While most people are capable of installing new light bulbs and light shades, all electrical installation work must be carried out by a licensed electrician in Australia.

Whether you’re needing extra power points or a new appliance installed, be sure to check the regulations in your state and seek professional services from a licensed electrical contractor.

 

Plumbing

Regulations regarding plumbing also vary between states, but in general, any works interacting with the installation of drinking water systems and sewer lines require a licensed plumber.

 

Choosing Colours

From paint and concrete colours to furniture and decor, choosing a colour scheme for your home is one of the most exciting aspects of any renovation.

But colour selection can also be overwhelming. Determining which colours work best together to complement your home and surrounds can be a job best left to the professionals.

The Geostone decorative concrete range is exclusive to each region, using natural stone and materials sourced from the local area. So who better to ask than a professional who knows the local product.

Visit a Geostone Display Centre near you to choose the perfect Geostone coloured concrete and stone selection for your project.

 

Flooring

Concrete flooring is a durable and hard-wearing floor surface that can reduce maintenance costs over its lifespan, which is why concrete flooring is a more affordable option than you might think.

But correct installation is crucial to ensure a long-lasting and crack-resistant finish.

Approved Geostone installers and finishers are recommended to hone and polish concrete floor surfaces to a professional standard.

 

Pool Surrounds

Installing pool surrounds may be another area to call in the professionals.

Decorative concrete is an economically viable choice for seamless swimming pool surrounds, and comes in a wide range of colours and textured finishes.

Geostone’s exposed aggregate mixes highlight the raw texture of natural stone on a skid-resistant surface, while an honed and sealed finish oozes luxury and contemporary style.

 

Display Centres

You can view the Geostone range available in your area anytime from the comfort of your home online.

But if you would prefer to see, touch and explore the range in person, a visit to a Geostone Display Centre can help you make the best selections for your project.

The Geostone Team can also put you in touch with installers, finishers and other professionals in your local region.

If you’re planning to DIY to save money on your renovations, you might be hesitant to invest in an installer.

While some renovation tasks can be safely done yourself, seeking the skills of the right professionals can save you money and time in the long run.

For more information and inspiration for your decorative concrete project, visit the Geostone article archive.

Creating an Outdoor Kitchen

Creating an outdoor kitchen is a great way to make use of your backyard, deck or patio area.

Australia’s climate is ideal for outdoor entertaining, and outdoor kitchens have come a long way since the days of the old Aussie brick barbie in the backyard.

Enjoying regular meals outdoors can support a more active and healthy lifestyle, while also keeping your indoor kitchen sparkling clean.

Outdoor kitchens are ideal for entertaining guests or hosting children’s parties too, and can even increase the resale value of a property.

To guide you on your way to your personal al fresco journey, we’ve put together a checklist to consider when creating your outdoor kitchen.

 

Bench Space

While camping has its charms, it may be less fun entertaining friends using an esky lid as a prep table.

So one important feature of an outdoor kitchen is ensuring you have enough room to prepare and cook delicious meals.

Geostone’s polished concrete is a practical and attractive material to use for benchtops, being water-resistant, easy to clean and visually beautiful.

Geostone could also be used  for creating outdoor dining tables, with aggregate stone selections, colours, and shapes customised to your individual needs.

Using decorative concrete both inside and outside the home is a contemporary way of defining spaces and improving functionality.

 

Plumbing, Electricals and Lighting

Before installing a benchtop, determine the positioning of your sink and tapware.

You might want plumbing for a kitchen sink, an outdoor tap, and possibly even an outdoor dishwasher or hot tub.

Electricity supply is another consideration. Perhaps you’re planning to install a big screen to watch the footie on weekends. You might also need to fire up the party lights and even a karaoke machine. And let’s not forget the beer fridge.

 

Appliances

Dreaming of the appliances you want outdoors is a little different to designing your indoor kitchen.

Outdoor spaces may have the freedom and space to include a variety of appliances. Give this careful consideration and be e as practical as possible.

Barbeques and pizza ovens are a great way to make the most of your outdoor space, and are perfect for entertaining guests.

When installing large appliances that require ventilation, think carefully about their placement, ensuring adequate clearance from trees, walls, rooves, furniture and other appliances.

If you’re working with a smaller space, you could consider an outdoor oven, stove top and wok burner for your cooking needs.

Whatever you decide, installing any kind of cooking appliance will give you the flexibility to enjoy a meal outdoors any day or night of the week.

 

Flooring

Give careful consideration to the type of flooring you would like in your outdoor kitchen area.

Geostone polished or honed concrete is the perfect outdoor kitchen flooring solution, being easy to clean, durable, and suited to all weather conditions.

Concrete flooring is also easy to maintain, and more affordable than you might think.

Concrete floors are also allergen-friendly and scratch resistant, making them perfect for pets and family friendly.

 

Weatherproofing

The ideal outdoor kitchen is one that can be used in all weather conditions.

The materials you choose and the layout of your space will contribute to creating a weatherproof outdoor entertaining area.

Some flooring and decking options can be prone to rotting or splitting, while a decorative concrete floor makes for a long lasting and durable flooring option that’s even suitable for wet areas.

If you’re working with an uncovered space, be sure to ask your installer about outdoor sealer. By sealing your concrete, a protective layer can give the concrete additional slip-resistance and keep it looking new for longer.

When it comes to aesthetics, finely finished decorative concrete lets you bring the beauty and refinement of indoor flooring to your outdoor space. You can create an effortless flow between indoors and outdoors, combining durability, functionality and style.

So you can still enjoy the beauty of nature or views of your swimming pool, consider installing bistro blinds in your patio area, which offer protection from the elements without obstructing your view.

 

Furniture

Choosing the right furnishings for your outdoor kitchen, from bar stools to dining tables and even decorative plants is key to defining your space.

An open and welcoming patio is ideal for multi-purpose areas, so it’s best not to overcrowd the space with too much furniture.

If you’re working with a smaller space, a dining area can be created by arranging bar stools at the kitchen benchtop or island bench.

When it comes to choosing furniture, make key pieces stand out by keeping to a uniform visual style. Complement your decorative concrete benchtops and flooring with wooden furniture and metallic accents to create a coordinated contemporary aesthetic.

Whatever your vision, these tips can help you make a start on creating your dream outdoor kitchen.

For information on the Geostone range available in your area and more design inspiration, visit www.geostone.com.au   

How to Design Your Ideal Outdoor Area

Designing an outdoor area can be just as important as your home’s interior, but what’s the best way to go about defining spaces in your backyard?

When building a new home, landscaping is often left until last, and can sometimes be rushed or neglected if the budget blows out on the build.

But a well-designed backyard offers a year-round outdoor living and entertainment area that deserves your attention and appreciation during the planning stages.

From pathways to pergolas, it’s best to plan your entire outdoor area before you break ground.

Take the overall size of the space into consideration and identify any areas you will use for special features. This could include a swimming pool, vegetable garden or entertainment area.

The most successful landscape designs make use of zoning to provide designated areas, coming together in harmony to create an attractive and functional outdoor space.

The possibilities are endless, but we have put together some of our top tips to help with defining spaces in your backyard.

Zones

Dividing your backyard into zones is an effective way to create interest and spaciousness.

Small trees, hedges and greenery can be used to create borders, without interrupting the cohesion of your backyard or blocking your views.

Decorative concrete floating stairs, walls and dividers can provide functional structure, while creating a pleasing aesthetic for your divided zones.

Geostone’s decorative concrete range can be used as a landscaping material in any outdoor area, including driveways, entertainment areas and pool surrounds, and can even extend to polished concrete flooring for a seamless indoor-outdoor flow.

 

Levels

Individual zones can be created with the introduction of multiple levels across the backyard. With the use of stairs and retaining walls, you can elevate an area for an entertainment zone, or dig down for an intimate sunken lounge and fire pit.

Geostone’s polished and honed concrete, coloured concrete and exposed aggregate products are suitable for constructing any shape or space, requiring little maintenance while offering a weather resistant surface ideal for the great outdoors.

 

Paths

Pathways can be used to connect each of your zones, guiding visitors through your backyard while protecting lawns and gardens.

Decorating with trees and greenery can provide a colourful accent to your pathways, creating a natural tone for the whole backyard. Make use of trellises or walls to bring the greenery upward, framing the pathway to provide a level of structure and order.

Decorative concrete is a popular construction material for pathways. Geostone Exposed Aggregate combines coloured concrete with natural stones sourced from your local region to provide an attractive, functional and slip resistant ground surface.

 

Decks

Outdoor rooms and enclosed decks allow for year-round entertaining, and can be used to showcase views of the best features of your backyard.

For an enclosed area that remains connected to your home, beautifying the deck or creating a sunroom is an effective way of defining a welcoming indoor-outdoor space.

Exposed aggregate and honed concrete are suitable solutions for creating an outdoor deck of any size, including wrap-around decks surrounding your entire home.

Consider placing an outdoor chaise lounge on the deck for a more relaxed feel. If you’re working with a narrow space, try some longer outdoor seating, or an all-weather daybed along the external wall.


Patios

Patios lead from the outside of your home into the greater yard area, offering flexible functionality and a platform for additional features.

Creating weatherproof outdoor areas is an important consideration when designing a patio you can use all year round.

Keeping the patio open and welcoming is key for a multi-purpose area, so it’s best not to overcrowd the space with too much furniture.

Instead, make key pieces stand out by keeping to a uniform visual style.

Compliment concrete and stone with wooden furniture or metal accents to create a coordinated aesthetic, and try including some greenery with pot plants or a vertical garden.

 

Entertainment Area

The inclusion of an outdoor kitchen can increase property value, providing year-round entertainment for families and guests alike.

Outdoor ovens and barbecues are an excellent way to cater to large crowds, offering a relaxed alternative to cooking indoors on a warm summer evening.

Geostone’s polished concrete range can be precisely moulded and shaped to an exquisite finish for both indoor and outdoor benchtops and dining tables.

While placement and elevation are necessary decisions for all outdoor areas, the specifics of the design are equally important.

Depending on the size of the area you are working with, a large dining table and chairs can give your space a sense of grandeur, and create an inviting ambience for guests.

 

Pools

The backyard swimming pool is synonymous with the Great Australian Dream.

When installing or refurbishing a swimming pool, style, safety and functionality are key factors to consider.

Geostone decorative concrete provides the look of luxury for pool surrounds and water features, with a range of exposed aggregate, honed and polished finishes to choose from.

As well as the aesthetic appeal, decorative concrete offers a slip resistant surface ideal for wet areas, and seamless flow to other zones of your outdoor space.

Backyard spaces are most successful when planned with a clear vision in mind for the use of the space and your lifestyle, and designed with respect for the style of your home and surrounding area.

With so many options to consider, you can see why defining spaces in your backyard can be just as exciting as designing the inside of your home.

For more information, tips and tricks, take a look at our other Geostone articles.

8 Ways to Maximise Space at Your Place

As Australian houses continue getting smaller, homeowners are looking for new and creative ways to maximise space.

While property prices remain high and the cost of living increases, the average home size has shrunk to a 22-year low.

Skilled homeowners are now working with architects, designers and builders to make the most of what little space they have. The trend has also been inspired by the minimalist movement increasing the appeal of spaciousness and open-plan design.

If you’re feeling cramped and crowded, this article explores eight ways to maximise space at your place.

 

  1. Embrace Open-Plan Living

An open-plan layout effortlessly creates space and the feeling of spaciousness in your home.

The most common open-plan layout combines the kitchen, living and dining areas into a single zone. This can be achieved at the initial design stage, or by removing non load-bearing walls in a renovation.

Open plan living can extend to other areas of the home too, such as resort-inspired bedrooms with open ensuites and sunken spas, or external kitchens to increase indoor-outdoor flow.

 

  1. Build Up with a Loft

Rooms with high ceilings allow for building vertically – and adding a loft is an effective space-saving solution for expanding floor space, without the cost of extending the entire house.

You could choose to add another bedroom, or create a dedicated office space floating above the living area.

The integration of a loft pairs perfectly with the industrial look, maximising the space you have, while creating aesthetic architectural appeal.

 

  1. Replace Doors with Sliding Walls

While the look of open-plan living might be popular, wide open spaces are not always practical.

Family homes and shared households often require a greater level of privacy than lofts and apartments, creating the need for a different construction technique.

Sliding walls or ceiling to floor doors provide the privacy of permanent walls, with the flexibility to open them up, creating space, natural light and air-flow throughout the home.

Further decorative features can be added through the selection of materials, which can range from timber and glass through to textured room dividers.

 

  1. Get Crafty with Shelving & Storage

Even the smallest of homes can feel airy and bright with the right storage solutions.

When everything has its place, there is a sense of order and cleanliness, which makes a home more inviting and comfortable to live in.

But even the largest of homes can feel cramped if they become cluttered and wardrobes and drawers start spilling over.

If your biggest space challenge is finding room to put belongings, you might first want to start with decluttering your home.

Using floor to ceiling shelving is a great way to show off those prized possessions and book collections, while a hidden storage solution, such as under-staircase cabinetry, provides the perfect space for storing bulky items.

 

  1. Smooth Lines with Minimalist Flooring

The eye is naturally drawn to the smooth and straight lines of minimalist style.

The shiny and sleek finish of polished concrete floors creates a lengthening and unifying effect which has made it a popular option for flooring in modern and minimalist-style homes.

Polished concrete reflects light, creating a more airy and lively ambience in the home.

And it is suitable for every room of the house, including wet areas, meaning the polished concrete floor can be extended throughout the property to tie the look together.

 

  1. Let the Light Shine In

You can almost feel the walls close in around you inside dark homes with limited natural light.

Large windows and external glass doors allow sunlight into the home, while providing views and improved air flow to create the feeling of more space.

Ensuring adequate natural light can also provide the practical benefits of preventing mould and mildew, and is crucial to the thermal mass effects of polished concrete floors.

Polished concrete floors help to keep homes comfortable all year round with the storage and release of heat, or thermal energy. This process is most efficient when the concrete receives maximum sunlight exposure during the cooler months, not obstructed by curtains or rugs.

 

  1. Living & Dining Outside

A traditional house extension usually involves knocking out walls and increasing the square footage. But your outdoor space provides room for growth, without heavy construction.

Creating an outdoor room is an increasingly popular way to make the most of your outdoor area, while encouraging occupants and visitors to spend time outside, too.

Outdoor kitchens are a great way to extend the living and dining area of your home, creating an open-plan design that seamlessly extends from the indoors.

Combining polished concrete floors with decorative concrete foundations for patios and outdoor areas is the perfect way to increase indoor-outdoor flow and maximise the space available in your home.

 

  1. Create Outdoor Areas with Landscaping

Looking out over an open backyard can make your property feel smaller and less visually appealing.

A popular landscaping approach is to create multiple outdoor areas or zones with the use of landscaping techniques to create split levels, structure and guided form.

Decorative concrete can be used to create functional landscape elements from driveways and retaining walls to polished concrete benchtops. Concrete garden beds and pathways can help tame your garden, while concrete pool decks create a seamless contemporary finish and transform your backyard pool into a statement piece.

For more design inspiration using decorative concrete in your home and backyard, explore the other articles in the Geostone Blog.

Decorative Concrete vs. Pavers

Concrete and pavers are two of the most commonly used materials for landscaping outdoor areas.

Determining the most suitable solution for your project will depend on many factors, so it’s important to consider all of the options before rushing in.

Aside from colours and cost, you will also want to consider the texture of the material, durability, local climate and weather conditions, and how you intend to use the space.

You might also like to think about how these needs could change in five to ten years, durability of the material and resale appeal should you choose to sell your home.

Our experts have compiled some of the latest facts and figures of decorative concrete to help with your selection.

Versatility

Decorative concrete lends itself to a range of colours, textures, finishes and forms. While pavers are generally limited to square and rectangular shapes, decorative concrete is poured in liquid form, meaning it can be more easily moulded into rounded, curved and organic shapes.

Geostone decorative concrete is available in Exposed Aggregate, Coloured Concrete, and Honed and Polished Concrete, providing a range of finishes, colours and natural stone selections to choose from.

Best of all, the range is always unique to your local region, so you’re sure to find a material suited to your home and the natural surrounds of your area.

Surface Diversity

Pavers are most often found in pathways and patios, whereas the versatility of decorative concrete provides an endless array of applications.

Exposed Aggregate, Coloured Concrete and Polished and Honed finishes can be mixed and matched to create everything from outdoor kitchens and benchtops to retaining walls, pool surrounds, driveways, paths and patios. While inside, polished concrete is a popular flooring solution.

Installation

All landscaping requires a degree of preparation. For example, installing pavers often requires excavation, grading, sub-base compaction, laying geotextile fabric, base preparation and compaction. And that is all before the physical process of laying each of the pavers. If pavers need to be cut to size, this will also slow down the installation process.

When using decorative concrete, entire slabs can be poured and levelled in a matter of hours.

Your approved Geostone installer will then finish the concrete to your chosen texture, whether that’s exposing the aggregate, honing, polishing or applying an outdoor concrete sealant. Additionally, there is also the potential for pouring concrete over an existing surface, which could save you time and money in the landscaping process.

Climate Adaptability

Using pavers not suited to your local climate and weather conditions could result in cracks and broken and lifted pavers. All landscaping materials need to allow for movement and shifting over time, but those that are prone to lifting and breaking are more likely to need replacing. Concrete has thermal mass capabilities, which allows it to absorb and release extreme temperatures without cracking. And with the right preparation and drainage, decorative concrete is able to stand up to most conditions Mother Nature throws at it.

Resale Value

Outdoor landscaping is the one project that is often left to last. Kitchen and bathroom renovations regularly blow the budget. While for new builds, landscaping is not always  included in the builder’s fee, so if not the homeowners take a wait and see approach.

Yet a property valuer will often determine the price range of your home before they walk in the door, which highlights the importance of prioritising the outside appearance and functionality of the property.

Research suggests neutral colours, natural materials like stone, and low maintenance requirements are all attractive incentives for buyers, and could increase the resale value of your home.

Surface Finish

The joins between pavers are susceptible to invasion by weeds as well as mould and moss growth, which can create hazards. Concrete can be laid in larger sections between control joints, providing more functional space and reducing troublesome weeds.

The larger surface area also makes decorative concrete easy to clean, and helps to avoid those unsightly stains that can quickly age an outdoor area.  

Cost

The cost of pavers varies greatly depending on the size, material and brand of the paver, as well as your project area. The price of Geostone’s decorative concrete varies according to your region, product and colour selection, so we invite you to submit your project details for a free quote. Be sure to include your preferred Geostone product, project area, and postcode.

These are just some of the factors to consider when choosing between pavers and concrete for your next landscaping project.

If you’re looking for more inspiration for decorative concrete inside or outside your home, you might like to explore the Geostone concrete range available in your area. And visit our Blog for more articles and ideas.

How to Renovate Your Home for Profit

Renovating for profit has become big business in the Australian property market.

What was once reserved for property developers, professional tradespeople and the lucky few gifted with an eye for detail, has become a  money maker for those fortunate to be in the market.

First home buyers and ‘mum and dad investors’ discovered the thrill of ‘flipping houses’ through television programs like The Block, which made renovating for profit seem simple.

The rising trend resulted in a massive increase in home renovations across Australia, rising by 147% from 2010 to 2014.

The House Industry Association (HIA) reported home renovations totalled $33.6 billion in Australia in 2017, and that figure is predicted to grow to above $35.5 billion by 2021.

Some people are certainly living the dream, like Australia’s own ‘Renovation Queen’ Cherie Barber.

Dubbed Australia’s Number 1 renovation educator, Cherie has 27 years of profitable renovation experience, and 112 projects under her belt.

Although Cherie is known for turning record-breaking profits in just a matter of days, she has confessed to a love-hate relationship with television renovation programs.

In a 2017 interview, she told the Eastern Reporter that today’s homeowners make the mistake of doing too much DIY, recommending 90 per cent of the work should be outsourced to licensed tradespeople for the best results.

But many experts warn fast renovations don’t always equal fast profits.

Respected property investment writer Michael Yardney says renovation flips often flop for many reasons.

He says buying low and selling high after a quick, cheap renovation is a ‘speculative strategy’, which often doesn’t work due to transaction and holding costs, tax, unrealistic expectations, and a fickle property market.

Instead, he recommends a long-term investment strategy to buy, renovate and hold.

“I enjoy taking a dwelling that’s been a bit neglected and breathing new life into it, making it into a home my tenants will love and want to care for and more importantly, it’s a great way of manufacturing equity for my property investment portfolio,” Michael Yardney writes on his website PropertyUpdate.com.au.

Michael says this slow-growth approach allows homeowners to make thousands of dollars in equity and fast-track capital growth, while increasing rental yields, and gaining tax benefits through depreciation.

So what are the secrets of the successful house flippers renovating for profit?

And how can their tips be applied to your own renovations?

Maybe you’re renovating or building a home to live in, but hope to sell for a profit some time in the future?

We’ve compiled the top three suggestions from respected industry experts on just some considerations when renovating for profit.

The information provided is of a general nature only and does not take into account your individual circumstances. You should consider seeking independent trades, financial, legal, taxation and other relevant professional advice specific to your needs.

 

Longer lasting equals lower cost

There can be a strong temptation to choose the cheapest option, particularly when renovating a home purely for profit.

But smart buyers, or their conveyancing teams, will easily spot the difference between a quality build, and a cheap fix-up job.

If you’re planning to live in the home, or rent it out as an investment property, choosing materials that will withstand the test of time should be a priority.

While this approach might cost more initially, it’s likely to save money in the long-run by avoiding costly call-out fees, repairs or premature replacement.

 

Avoid temporary touch ups

A lot of renovators admit to ‘settling’ with a temporary renovation option, despite grand plans for something very different down the track.

The old saying of ‘do it right the first time’ can certainly be applied here.

While you have to take into consideration your own budget and financial situation, choosing a temporary touch-up that requires ongoing maintenance could end up costing a lot more than making a solid long term investment from the beginning.

Even luxurious finishes like polished concrete floors can be more affordable than you realise.

 

Don’t neglect the outside

The majority of any home renovation budget is often spent on the kitchen and bathroom.

Sometimes, over-spending in these areas means little to no money remains for outside renovations, so it goes unfinished for years, or the property goes on the market with no landscaping at all.

If that’s you, then you could be selling yourself short.

Did you know property valuers can determine the price range of your home before they walk through the door.

And potential home buyers will usually make a decision about whether or not to pursue a property within the first 10 seconds based on kerbside appeal alone.

Buyers also look favourably on finished renovations, and statistics show a finished driveway can earn up to 75% ROI.

For more information and inspiration for your home renovations in relation to your Geostone concrete needs, visit the Geostone blog or contact us today.

 

Your Concrete Playground

Creating a Family-Friendly Backyard Kids Will Love

If the kitchen is the heart of the home, then the backyard could be considered the soul.

It’s the scene of celebrations, family gatherings and quiet contemplation. And for families, the backyard serves as the children’s own private playground.

Backyards should be both functional and inviting, and a safe and fun outdoor space is on the wishlist of every family-friendly home.

Geostone’s decorative concrete can be used in a variety of ways to define your outdoor space, and create a playground that is safe and suitable for the whole family.

Whether you’re looking to build a patio, create pathways or even construct a concrete playground, decorative concrete combines durability and functionality with beautiful colours and designs to suit every home.

 

Durable

One of the most important things to consider when designing a backyard is the durability of the materials you use. Landscaping is always a big task, so you’ll want your work to last.

Geostone decorative concrete is hard-wearing, low-maintenance, and weatherproof, making it the perfect solution for any area of your backyard.

The Geostone Exposed Aggregate, Coloured Concrete, and Honed Concrete options are all suitable for use outdoors, giving you plenty of options to choose from.

 

Functional

Decorative concrete is a popular material for driveways, garages, pathways, patios and pool surrounds, while polished concrete makes for a perfect indoor flooring solution.

Concrete also has a long list of outdoor uses you might not have thought of, such as steps, retaining walls, garden beds, sand pits, children’s play areas, and even furniture including dining tables and benches.

With so many potential applications for decorative concrete, what you choose to create in your concrete playground is only limited by your imagination.

 

Family-Friendly

Families want a backyard that can withstand the daily demands of children and pets, while accommodating the needs of the rest of the family.

Geostone’s decorative concrete is stain-resistant and when correctly prepared slip-resistant, making it a popular choice for families – even in wet areas.

Slip-resistant surfaces mean less accidents resulting in injuries, which is a prime concern for every family. While scrapes and bruises are always a part of growing up, Geostone’s honed and polished concrete offers a sleek, smoother surface, while even the exposed aggregate range feels comfortable underfoot.

The result is a truly family-friendly landscaping and flooring solution that both children and pets will love.

 

Defining your Space

While it’s important to accommodate children and pets, the grown-ups need an outdoor space they can enjoy too. That might incorporate a garage or workshop, a spa or swimming pool, or an adults-only sunken seating area with a fire pit.

Defining each area can make for a relaxed space to entertain guests, while still being able to keep an eye on little ones.

Consider how decorative concrete can be used to define your outdoor space, and help you achieve the perfect balance of fun, and functionality, for every member of the family.

 

Product Pairing

Natural building materials such as timber and stone create a dramatic contrast with decorative coloured concrete and exposed aggregate. When choosing the colour of your decorative concrete, think about the other materials you might use with or alongside it. Although you might not be thinking of selling in the near future, it pays to think about the kerbside appeal of your property now. Studies show a landscape upgrade can dramatically increase resale value, and fresh, neutral colours often maximise returns.

 

Choosing the Right Surface

As well as its practicality, decorative concrete is an aesthetically pleasing product that can be tailored to suit the colour scheme and style of any home. You can choose from a variety of coloured, exposed aggregate, or polished and honed concrete to make your outdoor space not only functional, but beautiful.

Coloured

Plain grey concrete is no longer your only option. The Geostone Coloured Concrete range offers a range of colours to choose from, which creates a rainbow of opportunities for crafting fun children’s play areas from concrete.

Choosing the best coloured concrete for your home might mean complementing or contrasting the existing colour scheme of your home, blending in with the natural surrounds, or finding a colour that really stands out.

 

Exposed

Exposed aggregate is a popular choice for a range of outdoor applications. Like all Geostone products, exposed concrete is durable and slip resistant. It features natural Australian stone aggregates exclusive to your local area, giving it a unique and personal touch.

The available colours and stone combinations vary depending on the region, so we recommend searching for your area on our Regional Selector to see the options available to you.

 

Polished and Honed

Polished or honed concrete is becoming increasingly popular for patios and pool surrounds, as well as dining tables and benchtops in outdoor kitchens.

The high-sheen sleek surface provides the ultimate in style, while offering the same durability, low maintenance and slip resistance of all Geostone products.