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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. 

6 Easy Steps to Preparing your Pool for Summer

With the warmer months fast approaching, it will soon be the perfect time to start preparing your pool for summer. 

Draining the pool, pressure cleaning and tidying up outside are part and parcel of annual maintenance routines. But what if larger upgrades are needed?

Where do you start? And what needs to change?

 To help you get the most of your backyard swimming pool while the summer sun is shining, we have some easy-to-follow guidelines for preparing your pool.

 

  1. Plan the space

If you really want to make the most of your swimming pool and outdoor entertaining area, first you need to give some thought as to how it will be used.

While the pool itself may be the centrepiece of your great outdoors, the surrounding features will also impact on the functionality of the space.

If you plan on entertaining guests, for example, you may want to consider ways to maximise views, embrace indoor-outdoor living, and provide a welcoming area for cooking and dining. 

Outdoor kitchens are a popular feature, with many homeowners desiring a space to cook and entertain without the need to go indoors. If you’re working with a smaller space, consider garden beds or greenery to bring an element of life and colour to the area. 

Ideally, your pool area and outdoor space will also have adequate shade to protect you from the sun, as well as shelter from wind and rain during an unpredictable Aussie summer. 

Additionally, you may want to consider safety precautions for children, providing a safe environment where they can run and play while parents enjoy the space as well. Geostone’s decorative concrete is stain and slip-resistant, making it the perfect surface for busy wet areas and pool surrounds. 

 

  1. Clean up and clear out

It’s highly likely the cold, wet months of winter have wreaked havoc on your outdoor area, or at the very least, left the swimming pool looking a little unloved. 

Before the hot weather hits, set aside a couple of days for a backyard working bee. Bribe some helpers with a free barbecue lunch (and cold refreshments, perhaps) and attend to the general maintenance, like treating the water or emptying the pool, clearing out weeds and overgrown plants, and cleaning surfaces like walkways and pool surrounds.

This process might uncover areas needing more extensive repairs and maintenance, so it’s best to do it sooner rather than later.

 

  1. Manage mould and mildew

Mould and mildew have a tendency to grow on damp surfaces – especially pool surrounds and outdoor areas that haven’t seen the sun in a while.

Mould can present a health hazard so it’s best to consult the professionals about appropriate removal and treatment if you come across it. 

You might also choose to call in the experts to balance your swimming pool’s water pH levels and clean the filtration system. 

If you have Geostone decorative concrete pathways or pool surrounds, your approved installer will be happy to provide personalised advice on the best methods of cleaning, maintenance and avoiding mould growth. 

 

  1. Is it time to upgrade your pool surrounds?

If your swimming pool and outdoor area are in need of some serious TLC, it might be time to consider installing new swimming pool surrounds.

Lifted and broken tiles, cracked concrete and uneven surfaces could create a safety hazard that good old fashioned elbow grease can’t shift.

Geostone’s decorative concrete range is available in both exposed aggregate and honed finishes, providing a wide range of options for customising your outdoor entertainment zone and pool area to suit your style.

It’s also advised to contact the appropriate authority in your local area to regularly assess the suitability and safety of pool fencing.

 

  1. Have fun with furniture

If you’re faced with broken banana lounges, dirty umbrellas and broken plastic chairs, it might be time to think about freshening up your outdoor furniture.

Replace any tired old poolside and outdoor dining furniture with vibrant, functional pieces that encourage people to socialise, move about and deliver indoor comfort in an outdoor setting.

From tables and chairs to sunbeds and firepits, there are countless ways to add beauty and functionality to your poolside play area.

For furniture that lasts the test of time, you might like to consider creating with concrete. Geostone decorative concrete can be used to custom design concrete sinks and benchtops for outdoor kitchens, tables and chairs, garden planters, stairs, and more.

 

  1. Be sunsmart – and plan for all seasons

The only thing that beats a backyard swimming pool in summer, is an outdoor area that’s functional all year round.

Shaded areas to protect against the sun are great for the warmer months, but weatherproofing your outdoor space to combat rain, wind and cold temperatures is just as important.

You can also use Mother Nature to your advantage. Consider the position of the sunrise and sunset, be aware of any strong breezeways or cross winds, and take advantage of natural shade from trees.

Preparing your pool for summer can be a rewarding experience, and a little forward planning could set you up for year-round enjoyment of your outdoor area.

Discover more information and inspiration from 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.

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.

Renovating on a Budget

If you have grand plans for your home makeover, renovating on a budget can sound challenging.

Everyone wants a functional, comfortable and inviting home they feel proud to call their own.

And most of us want space for entertaining guests, and hosting gatherings for friends and family.

But how can you achieve your dream home without blowing the budget?

It’s likely you’re renovating to not only improve the home you live in now, but also to add value to your property when it comes time to sell.

So it’s important to think about which changes will give you the best returns in the long run.

We’ve gathered some tips from the experts on the most successful ways to tackle renovating on a budget.

 

Setting a Budget

Although it might sound simple, deciding on a budget isn’t as easy as just picking a number. To accurately determine how much money you will need to spend to achieve your plans, it can be helpful to create a wish list for each area of the home you plan to renovate. Then, for each room or outdoor area, list all of the supplies and services you will need. Also look for and note down any opportunities to reuse and recycle materials you already have to reduce your costs.

By setting a budget for each of the items you need, you can cost out each area, and add those together to arrive at your budget. Setting a budget with this level of detail, you may find the total amount is higher than you first expected. While this might seem off-putting, it’s better to have a realistic budget set before you start renovating to avoid running out of funds mid-way through construction.

A good rule of thumb is to keep 20% of your available budget as a safety net for any unexpected or extra costs.

 

Choosing Your Suppliers

You might have been told that obtaining at least three quotes for every job is always the best way to go, and for many people this is true. However, creating vision boards and Pinterest boards is becoming a popular way to plan home renovations and restyling. Some home renovators know exactly what they want the moment they see it – so if that’s you it can be best to act swiftly and purchase those goods to avoid disappointment, particularly if supply is limited or time is running out. It can also be helpful to source suppliers local to your area to further reduce the costs of your home renovation.

 

Indoor Renovations

Changing the look and feel of your home is an exciting undertaking. And home renovations have become a favourite pastime for Australians inspired by the abundance of home makeover programs on TV and our national obsession with styled interiors. Or as news.com.au words it, “Australia is in the midst of a home renovation epidemic”.

Some of the most common indoor renovations we see today are upgrades of bathrooms and kitchens, as well as new flooring throughout the home.

While it can be tempting to use an array of different materials and colours in every room, using a restrained palette can help to create cohesiveness and flow. Looking for opportunities to use the same materials in multiple areas of the home can also help to reduce costs.

Polished concrete is a versatile flooring option suitable for these key areas of the home, for both its aesthetic appeal and functionality. Not only beautiful to look at and easy to maintain, concrete floors offer the benefit of thermal mass which can naturally help to decrease heating costs. And they’re suitable for wet areas too.

 

Outdoor Renovations

The outdoor ‘reno’ is all part and parcel of the great Australian dream. Our home is our ‘castle’, so we all strive to create a space that is uniquely ours. Some of us tinker away at the landscaping and exterior remodelling of our homes for years.

The most popular outdoor renovations are re-cladding or painting, alfresco dining areas, driveways, and swimming pools.

Exposed Aggregate, Coloured Concrete and Honed Concrete are all popular options for laying down the foundations of these outdoor landscaping projects.

Concrete can also be extended from inside the home to create indoor-outdoor living areas. This provides another opportunity to minimise the number of products needed for your renovation, helping to reduce costs and services overall.

Make a list of your ‘must haves’ and measure out your project areas before contacting suppliers to ask for quotes. You don’t have to know every detail of the renovation process, but understanding your project space and having a clear vision of your renovation outcomes will give you the confidence you need to get the best deals and make the right decisions the first time, every time.

 

Cheap is Not Always Best

Although your budget is limited, it’s important to think about the long term investment and vision for your home. Often you will find cheaper is not always the best option, nor the longest lasting.

Choosing durable materials that will last the distance can save you time and money in the long run, whereas cheaper materials and supplies may need to be repaired or replaced sooner and more often.

It’s always important to ask suppliers about product warranties and query your service providers about guarantees. Also be sure to ask about the best maintenance methods to ensure you keep your new renovations in the best possible condition and have them looking new for longer.

While renovating on a budget may have its challenges, it’s also an enjoyable and rewarding experience and an exciting opportunity to put your unique style on your very own home.

 

For more inspiration on home renovations, interiors, landscaping and concrete flooring, head to the Geostone website.

The Must-Have Feature for Every Australian Backyard and Garden

Making the most of your home means spending time outdoors too, so you want your backyard and garden to reflect your lifestyle.

There is one must-have feature that can help you create an outdoor space that is not only beautiful, but also functional, long-lasting and could even add value to your home.

The answer? Decorative concrete.

There are so many diverse ways to use concrete in any outdoor space, from the smallest courtyards and patios, to sprawling gardens and entertainer’s paradise backyards.

Let’s take a look at just some of the possibilities.

 

Assorted Custom Finishes

Homeowners are no longer restricted to a plain grey concrete slab. Concrete is now available in a wide variety of appealing finishes including exposed aggregate, coloured concrete and polished and honed concrete. Geostone’s decorative concrete range also features natural Australian stone, providing the natural materials and earthy tones that are so on trend in outdoor styling.

 

Garden Beds

Building and maintaining garden beds requires a lot of planning and hard work, so you want them to last. An article by Urban Agriculture co-founder Brian Barth discusses the many benefits of building garden beds with concrete, and he says no other material is as durable or suitable for the job as poured concrete. Concrete also absorbs the warmth of the sun, holding it in the soil overnight to aid plant growth. And the flexible nature of concrete allows you to create curved shapes and more artistic-styled vegetable gardens.

 

Patios and Alfresco Areas

The backyard barbecue is a much-loved Australian institution, making outdoor entertaining areas the key feature of backyards and gardens everywhere. Decorative concrete options such as coloured concrete and exposed aggregate concrete featuring natural stone help to create an attractive and inviting atmosphere for patios and alfresco areas. Various decorative concrete types can also be combined to create outdoor rooms and clearly defined spaces, from grand entertainment areas to the smallest patio designs.

 

Swimming Pools and Pool Surrounds

Decorative concrete is a popular choice for building swimming pools, swimming pool renovations and creating cool pool surrounds. Coloured concrete can be used to add a striking decorative border or pattern, while exposed and honed concrete offer slip-resistant properties. Other benefits include greater weed resistance, reduced mosquito breeding, and greater comfort underfoot.

 

Driveways, Footpaths and Pathways

There is something comforting about pulling into your own driveway at the end of a busy day. Using decorative concrete for driveways gives the entrance to your home a sense of individuality, and a differentiating look and texture to the rest of the street. Driveways and pathways can also be used to frame lawns and gardens.

 

Retaining Walls, Feature Walls, and Steps

Decorative concrete isn’t limited to ground coverage surfaces. It can also be used to build three-dimensional and functional structures, such as retaining walls and garden steps. Home improvement website Networx identifies the many benefits of decorative concrete retaining walls, including greater strength, durability, resistance, flexibility, ease of installation, low maintenance and affordability.

 

Garden Sheds, Garage and Shed Floors

Every serious outdoor area needs a shed, and every home needs a garage. Sheds and garages are best finished with a hardy and durable flooring surface that is both easy to clean and will last the test of time. Coloured concrete is becoming an increasingly popular option for sheds and garage floors, while honed and polished concrete can add another level of luxury to the garage space, ideal for showcasing a much-loved vehicle.

 

Decorative Features

There really are endless opportunities for using concrete in your outdoor space. As well as all of the above traditional purposes, concrete can be used to mould decorative and functional features for the outdoors including concrete fire pits, concrete seat walls, water features, or even an outdoor smoking room. With the wide range of decorative concrete colours, textures and finishes available from Geostone, you are only limited by your imagination.

 

For more information and inspiration on how to improve your backyard and garden with concrete, visit Geostone on Facebook or read more about decorative concrete.

The Seamlessness of a Concrete Pool Deck

Pool decks made from decorative concrete are growing in popularity for a number of reasons. For a start, exposed or honed concrete has skid resistant qualities in wet areas making it a naturally safer choice for pool surrounds, as well as driveways and walkways, and even laundries and bathrooms. Concrete pool decks are also UV-resistant, weeds are less likely to grow through them, and they’re relatively easy to maintain.

All this functionality should not overshadow the aesthetic appeal of decorative concrete around the pool, in particular its “seamless” qualities. In these modern times, where flow from one area of the home to another is often considered to be a highly desirable feature, decorative concrete stands out for being able to link one location to another. A concrete pool deck can, through colour and texture, perfectly reflect its surroundings including the house, other outdoor entertainment areas and garden.

This is achieved through the sheer versatility of decorative concrete. Exposed, honed and coloured concrete options can all be used in a pool deck to varying degrees. On their own, or in combination, they can create a mirror image of the environs outside of the pool area. For example, a pattern or strip of coloured concrete within a honed pool deck can match the colour palette of a nearby garden. A concrete pool deck can also lead onto any walkway that links the pool area to another outdoor entertainment space, or the home itself. With all the ways a concrete pool deck can make a connection between different outdoor areas or buildings, it is no surprise that the surface is now a common choice when pool areas are being built.

While other pool deck materials may provide a limited amount of exterior flow, few, if any, can match the versatility of decorative concrete. When colour, texture and finish combine in a concrete pool deck, it accentuates the feel of exterior flow. This degree of seamlessness might not be possible when using other surfaces. For example, timber decking may be available in a range of colours, but the texture and finish might not be as versatile: this is a major consideration if exterior flow is a desired look in an outdoor area. With decorative concrete, texture, finish and colour are used to striking effect in many applications.

Great looking driveways add much street appeal and value to a home so it is no surprise to see decorative concrete used quite often on new driveways, as well as accompanying walkways. Polished internal floors and honed concrete of the same colour in adjoining outdoor spaces allows for flow from one area to another. Why shouldn’t it be the same for pool decks? The use of decorative concrete certainly allows you to create an exterior where one area naturally flows or connects to another; such is the seamlessness of a concrete pool deck.

 

Four Reasons Why Decorative Concrete Is Family Friendly

Decorative concrete is an increasingly popular surface, and it’s not hard to figure out why. It is extremely versatile, offering a wide variety of looks – exposed aggregate, coloured, multi-coloured, dyed, stained, honed, polished, stamped, trowel finished…you get the idea! But decorative concrete is also gaining popularity beyond its eye-catching qualities. For example, it can be considered a very family friendly surface. Here are four reasons why:

 

Decorative concrete is hypoallergenic – in other words, it is less likely to cause an allergic reaction. This makes a polished concrete floor potentially a better choice if you’re trying to create a healthier, low-allergen home where your family can breathe easily (obviously seek your own independent advice). You’d probably be surprised, and terrified, if you could see what could live in the average carpet – millions of dust mites and other tiny creatures that can trigger cold and hay fever-type reactions, and possibly even symptoms that resemble asthma. Vacuuming the carpet does little to alleviate the problem, so it can be an ongoing, if unseen, headache. This is less of an issue when decorative concrete is used as an easy-to-clean and hypoallergenic floor surface.

 

Decorative concrete is slip resistant – decorative concrete around the pool, on the driveway, or on the floor in internal areas like bathrooms and laundries, is not just there for its good looks. Decorative concrete, such as honed concrete or exposed aggregate, has skid-resistant qualities that can reduce the chance of falls in slippery places. Accidents are likely to happen in every family home, but reducing the risk of spills and tumbles on wet floors and pool decks will help to make that home a safer place.

 

Decorative concrete is stable – furniture situated on unstable or uneven surfaces can present a number of potential dangers. Assuming that it is correctly placed, the stability of concrete, and the ability to create an even surface when using it, can alleviate the risk of people toppling backwards in a chair, or items sliding off a table, or other mishaps. This is probably why concrete patios and floors are now a selling point, particularly in family homes. Not only do they look good, but they also add stability and safety.

 

Decorative concrete is a time saver – “quality time” is probably the most precious resource a family has. Because decorative concrete is a relatively low maintenance surface that is easy to clean, less time might be needed to look after it. Concrete’s renowned durability also means it should last longer, so money is saved on frequent repairs and replacements – and in this day and age, money is definitely another precious resource for any family.

 

Many other materials are nice to look at, and some are comparable to concrete in terms of practicality and safety. However in the decision making process it is wise to consider decorative concrete along with other materials. Throw in decorative concrete’s visual appeal, and you have a material that can be family friendly in a very good looking way.