I've noticed again and again that setting the fence back from the sidewalk can work wonders. The concept is to place a three to four-foot tall wooden fence in from the sidewalk at least a couple feet, so there is a planting area in front of the fence which can increase privacy, soften the sidewalk, and create a sort of public garden along the fence and in the parkway. This has the effect of increasing the impact of a shorter fence, as required by code, and integrating the fence into the landscape in a pleasing way. Here are a couple examples:
This simple fence with horizontal slats has a fresh, somewhat modernist feel that still goes well with a very traditional house.
I'd love to see some of the groundcovers continue into the parkway here.
The large boulders surrounded by ecstatic drifts of Helichrysum anchor the front yard and this whimsical fence, creating a rustic vignette.
Both these fences are charming, simple, and relatively inexpensive to build. The second shows a brilliant use of inexpensive materials. And in each case, by planting in front of them, rather than placing them immediately against the sidewalk, the designer has created something special. The street and sidewalk are embraced by this design, yet the delineation of the front yard from the street is just as strong as it would be if the fence were placed along the property line, as so many are, but it so much more pleasing.