“Renovate, Don’t Detonate: Tips for Apartment Aesthetics”

22 May 2020
By Goran

Australia (especially New South Wales) is going through an unprecedented period of apartment complex development. This is great for those looking to buy their first apartment, or downsize, but for those who own a unit within an older apartment building, there may be concerns over the value of their apartment when compared to more modern and aesthetically pleasing buildings in the area. In this article, we will explain how to renovate your old apartment building without sacrificing its aesthetic value.

The Demand for Apartment Living

Traditionally, many Australians have preferred open living; a house, a backyard and a feeling of space. However, as affordability has decreased, the demand for apartments has grown, especially in large cities and their neighbouring areas. In Sydney alone, it is forecasted that by 2030, around 80 per cent of its residents will be living in apartments.

In fact, according to the Minister of Planning, The Hon. Rob Stokes MP, “In the decade up to 2011, the proportion of Sydney households living in a house fell from 68% to 60%, while share living in apartments rose to almost 30% in that same period.” This is an indication that the popularity of flats remains steady albeit the rise of many residential options.

The Modern Building Facade Design

If you own an old apartment building, you will immediately notice that the new complexes being built these days come with a contemporary and modern feel. Thanks to strengthened policies and improved regulations, apartments are now well designed, have better amenities, and are built with resident well-being in mind.
The new apartments in New South Wales follow the nine design principles dictated in the State Environmental Planning Policy No 65 or SEPP 66.

  • Principle 1: Context and Neighbourhood Character – Design professionals should identify desirable elements of an area’s existing or future character including the adjacent sites, streetscape, and neighbourhood.
  • Principle 2: Built Form and Scale – This is mainly about achieving an appropriate build for a site and the building’s purpose in terms of alignments, proportions, building type, articulation, and manipulation of building elements.
  • Principle 3: Density – The focus here is on achieving a high level of amenity for residents consistent with the area’s existing or projected population.
  • Principle 4: Sustainability – Technologies that create positive environmental, social, and economic outcomes fall into this principle; which includes but is not limited to recycling and reuse of materials and waste, use of sustainable materials, a passive thermal design for HVAC, as well as deep soil zones for groundwater recharge and vegetation.
  • Principle 5: Landscape – A good landscape should allow for usability, privacy, and opportunities for social interaction, equitable access and preserving green networks, among others.
  • Principle 6: Amenity – This deals with appropriate room dimensions and shapes, access to sunlight, natural ventilation, outlook, visual and acoustic privacy, storage, indoor and outdoor space, efficient layouts and service areas and ease of access for all age groups and degrees of mobility.
  • Principle 7: Safety – The requirements for secure access points and well-lit and visible areas, that are easily maintained and appropriate to the location and purpose, are emphasised here.
  • Principle 8: Housing Diversity and Social Interaction – There should be a mix of apartment sizes, providing housing choices for different demographics, living needs and household budgets.
  • Principle 9: Aesthetics – The visual appearance as well as internal layout and structure, must respond to the existing or future local context.

So how do you amp up your game and stand out in residential apartment development, even though your building facade is outdated and showing signs of wear? How do you increase the value and improve aesthetics? There’s no need for you to demolish your building; all you need are our top five tips.

  1. Consider a façade upgrade. Older buildings often show signs of structural damage. Cracks, water stains, rust and leaks are all signs the building needs some TLC. Fixing these is essential prior to any aesthetic work, but once it is done, you can look to upgrade the façade to improve the look of the building. You may want to consider rendering, changing the windows or balustrades or even cladding the building.
    In recent years, cladding for buildings has become almost the default design element of architects and those involved in new construction or refurbishment of existing buildings. It can take something plain and turn into something much more contemporary and aesthetically pleasing.


  1. Improve the flooring. If your units were installed with carpets, which were a luxurious trend in the 1960s, it is about time to have them replaced. They might have become a home for mildew and microorganisms and potentially harbour a musty smell also. Try easy-to-clean, yet stylish, flooring options like tiles and vinyl.


  1. Replace antiquated hardware. With wear and tear, faucets, door and cabinet knobs, showerheads, switch plates and the like, often get filthy and end up collecting deposits that are hard to remove. Unscrew the old hardware, buy some new replacements and make sure that they contribute to the refreshed look and theme that you’re aiming for in your residential spaces.


  1. Introduce fresh air into the building by adding plants and planters. Open areas can be transformed from areas which are an eyesore into places people choose to visit. Work with an architect to redesign dead spaces. Consider building some planter boxes (make sure you waterproof them first), and bringing in trees people can sit under, or maybe build a BBQ area where people can socialise and relax.


  1. Update your balconies. Maybe the balustrade needs replacement? Maybe the concrete floor has chipped off or some parts of the soffit are needing attention. Get all the dilapidated corners fixed, have them repainted, and boom, you’ll see how a simple tweak can improve your apartment building’s look and ambience.


Concrete Damage - Concrete Spalling - Remedial Building Services


If you are looking for experts who can help you renovate your apartment building to increase its value and prolong its lifespan, let’s chat and talk about your building facade restoration needs.