Embrace the pebbledash: Hollie Bowden's guide to giving your home an exterior makeover

Homes & Property | Interiors

Embrace the pebbledash: Hollie Bowden's guide to giving your home an exterior makeover

My attempts to cultivate kerb appeal have been a revelation — now I’ve joined the residents’ association to encourage the neighbours

Who remembers Sarah Beeny’s Streets Ahead?

It’s been almost two decades since we followed her attempt to coax a co-ordinated zhuzh-up effort from residents of drab roads across the UK.

Time for an anniversary reboot, in which I persuade my Haringey neighbours to join me in the noble pursuit of a prettier home. Call me, Channel 4.

When we bought our house, tackling the textured minty green finish, plastic windows and sad brick wall were a priority. I was tempted by a Derek Jarman-style scheme with a black façade and yellow window frames, then mocked up an abstract pattern before realising it was a shortcut to strained neighbour relations.

Derek Jarman’s Prospect Cottage exterior is the dream, but the neighbours might not approve
Gilbert McCarragher

My grandmother’s house in Cheltenham remained front of mind during deliberations. In her Eighties she painted it a David Hicks-style dark green, got a few bags of white stones from B&Q and bought this huge antique urn for the front garden.

The glow-up became the talk of the street, and soon the neighbours were out painting and replanting.

That’s the thing about exterior improvements — they’re contagious. I’d love to see a real movement for getting our streets up to scratch, and maybe even a subsidised scheme or community effort for people who don’t have the time or money.

I’ve joined our residents’ association and have started stalking local councillors.

In the end, we settled on a simple off-white render with a new green front door. But what a revelation. It’s completely changed how I feel about coming home.

Here are my five steps to a smarter home exterior

1. Embrace the pebbledash

I think there’s something charming about that old, brown pebbledash. Maybe you could go full Seventies with the front garden and do tropical plants and succulents.

If you can afford it, a faux plastering technique where the façade is first stripped back is a great, albeit labour-intensive, option. Blessed with old brick? Resist the render. Repointing is all you need.

2. Curate the entrance

We swapped our plastic front door for a beautiful old door and painted it a rich green, and you could think about a lantern to add interest. I like Jamb and Original BTC.

Try Jamb for attractive lanterns - this is the Barnsley design

If you’re retiling your path but don’t want the faff of finding reclaimed ones, Winckelmans does new Victorian-style tiles. The traditional chequerboard is foolproof.

3. Sort out the bins

Nothing will diminish your efforts like a set of bins on full display.

I found a second-hand bin store online, but B&Q sells perfectly serviceable options. If you’re willing to spend, you could get a carpenter to make one.

4. Upgrade your gate

We inherited a horrible old gate that, hilariously, someone stole. I think they did us a favour.

People are dying to get rid of attractive old gates for some reason. I found a lovely wrought iron Victorian one on eBay for £50.

5. Plant something fast-growing

For speed and scent, jasmine is hard to beat.

We rendered the front brick wall and created a planter for jasmine behind it, so the foliage will spill over. Our gardeners Butterrow covered the rest of the front garden in pebbles with a few simple grasses.