Building an MCM Garden Wall | And What Happened When it Rained at our House

In a backwards way I will respond to the second part of this post’s title first.

This is what happened at our house yesterday.


This wall was probably built about 60 years ago so I’m not sure why it decided to fail and collapse.  All I can think of is that it did rain yesterday and maybe 60 years of Melbourne weather finally became too much for our wall.

Fortunately no family members (or cars) were in the vicinity of the collapse, so we can look at this occurrence in a more practical sense.

We have been throwing around ideas for our driveway for a little while now.  Recent events (ie. a new MCM fan added to the family) have highlighted that a wonderfully rustic set of timber sleeper steps are not always practical for family transport (ie. a pram).

The driveway entrance and wonderfully rustic (but somewhat impractical) steps

Our gravel driveway has also seen better days and we are considering our options for that as well…. But before I get distracted with the many variations we have come up with (we are both designers, so there have been a few), I’ll get back to our wall.

The right side of our driveway has offered itself as a good location for a ramp.  This will allow easier pedestrian access to the terrace above our garage and to the front door, and while no longer preventing visits from elderly relatives, it will make our life a lot easier.

This brings me to the first part of this post’s title:

What options are there for building an MCM wall?

Should we go natural stone?

Bluestone is a great look in Melbourne.

Or there are plenty of other natural stone options.

Rockwork provides a more rustic look and can work well as an embankment.

Volcanic rocks were a very popular material and work really well as a dry stone wall.

Natural stone walls can also be made of granite (as below) or even river rocks, as shown in our old wall at the start of this post.

Concrete walls can be poured on site and can work well in an MCM garden.  As with any garden wall, however, it is important that the materials match the home and this sort of wall is probably suited more to a ‘Palm Springs’ style of MCM garden.

Pre-cast masonry is another great option with a variety of materials and finishes, such as the textured blocks below.

Finally, the trusty house brick fits perfectly in an MCM setting.

Brick walls painted to match the home provide a great connection between all of the built form of the house and garden.

MCM homes and walls should never be rendered.

There it is, I’ve said it.  I’ve been told that after WWII the use of bricks became more common (with restrictions on material use lifted) and the beauty of using this material was in the shadow lines created by the individual pieces.  So why cover it with a slab of monotonous colour?

Our river rock wall collapse has probably jump started the project, as we were planning to replace it with an extension of the existing painted brick wall.  That will continue the brickwork of the garage up the side of the driveway and also link to our front wall.

The existing brick wall to the front boundary
The existing brick wall to the front boundary

Or if that doesn’t work out we could always go a bit crazy. (Like they did here)

What do you think?