What colour should our house be?

One of the luxuries of having a long design process was having plenty of time to think about what the house should be made of and what colours those materials should be. We are building in a suburb that was developed in the early sixties and most of the original houses are brick construction in creams, reds, browns and greys, so while our house will be modern in design, we wanted the materials to blend into the landscape. From pretty early in the design process, I knew I wanted to use recycled bricks and it seemed like a good way to bring back some character and be sympathetic to the surrounding houses. While I love the old ‘Canberra reds’, I wanted to do something a bit different with a more subdued colour palette so I found a couple of suppliers in Sydney and we hopped in the car one weekend to scope them out.

One of the things I’ve learned about renovating and building is that you have to be flexible, or at least recognise the times that you can and can’t compromise. I had a pretty fixed idea of what I wanted the bricks to look like and whipped out my inspiration image at each place we went to see if they could replicate the look. They laid out the bricks in varying combinations, hosed them off so we could see what they would look like pressure and acid washed, showed us the different mortar techniques and even explained how to apply limewash.

The bricks we chose are sandstocks (convict bricks) and blue blacks from terraces and houses built around the 1930’s and 40’s, in the Surry Hills area.

brick yardwashed bricks

I walked away not entirely confident that what we ordered was going to look like my image, but I was so mesmerised by the beauty and character of the bricks that I decided whatever we got would be good! We also decided to do a double height brick feature wall inside beside the staircase so that we can enjoy them for more than a couple of minutes every day when we’re pulling in and out of the driveway.

Fastforward a few weeks, and our bricks were delivered on site ready for the footings! After tearing off the plastic from a few pallets, it was pretty obvious that our greys and blue black combo had a decidedly larger quantity of reds than we were expecting. By that stage I was getting a bit worried that my monochrome palette might resemble a checkerboard, so we decided to go with it, and think it has turned out to be a happy mistake!

brick delivery

Now we just need to decide to leave them ‘as is’ with the white powdery looking lime mortar residue on the face, or pressure wash at the end to bring out the richness of the colour. What do you think looks best?

recycled bricks - lime mortar residue
‘as is’ with lime mortar residue
recycled bricks - washed
washed (this was done with the hose but a pressure wash would bring out a richer colour)

Supplier: Cheap as Bricks, Granville, Sydney


2 thoughts on “What colour should our house be?

    1. Thanks Gina! Upstairs will be vertically clad. We have deliberated over four different types of cladding for upstairs; charcoal aluminium, shou sugi ban (charred cedar), antique copper and recycled spotted gum. We decided the charcoal/charred colours would be too much of a contrast with the brick so we are leaning towards the spotted gum now, which is attractive because we intend to carry the material through inside. What do you think?


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