Growing up in the heart of suburban Sydney, I’ve always been pretty well used to asphalt roads and concrete outdoor pavers. So you can imagine my surprise when, upon making my first trip to Europe, I discovered many of Europe’s older cities are still paved with cobblestones. Places like Istanbul, Prague and Bratislava are still heavily cobbled and their cobbled streets provide thoroughfares for vehicular traffic. While these streets proved to be a bumpy ride for the buses and bicycles that I made my way around Europe on, it lent these cities an undeniable sense of history and majesty. Cobbled streets may not be ideal for modern roads, but it got me thinking about other uses for cobblestone. Specifically, I was looking forward to heading back to my home in Australiaand finding a way to introduce outdoor pavers with cobblestones to my front yard.

Adding curb appeal with cobblestone pavers

Lately, I’ve been considering ways to add value to my home, and I came across the concept of "curb appeal". Curb appeal refers to the impression that people get as they approach or pass by your house (walking along the curb — make sense now?). No matter how many improvements you make to the interior or back of your home, if the place doesn’t look attractive to somebody standing on the curb, your home’s value is going to take a significant hit.

Since those European cities were undoubtedly extremely appealing, I thought: Why not lend a bit of that Euro majesty to my own humble home? And so, I decided to experiment with cobblestone pavers.

I had sandstone pavers around the rest of my home, particularly in the backyard, but I wanted to try something different for the front yard. I replaced my driveway with cobblestones and the difference was immediately noticeable.

The many benefits of cobblestone

The benefits of cobblestones were plentiful. First of all, they allowed me to experiment with fun and exciting designs, with a range of shapes, sizes and colours to choose from. Secondly they’re extremely durable — it’s no coincidence that those European streets, built centuries ago, are still in extremely good nick today, and I knew my new driveway was going to be very low maintenance.

Finally, and most importantly, the driveway looked absolutely stunning, adding an undeniable "old-world" appeal to my home that made it stand out from the rest of the stock-standard houses on the street. Friends and family who visited immediately commented on my great new driveway, and occasionally passers-by even stopped to talk to me about my cobbles. The value of my home went up. Best idea ever!

Fun facts about cobblestone

  • The name ‘cobblestone’ finds its history in the old English word "cob", which referred to a large, round lump. Around the 15th century, the word ‘cobble’ showed up to refer to small stones found in stream beds. These stones formed the first cobblestone streets. 
  • Cobblestones were replaced as the primary means of road-laying in the 19th century, but many cities in Europe, South America and North America still make use of cobbles. One advantage cobbled streets have is that it’s easy to hear traffic coming, acting as a warning to pedestrians. 

The Paris-Roubaix cycling race takes place on long stretches of cobble, providing a notoriously difficult surface for riding. The race winner is even given a cobblestone as part of the prize.