Woolooware, Sydney NSW
We were tasked with designing a space to accommodate large spontaneous gatherings after a long day or days out on the sea. This family home needed to transform at a moments notice and welcome the crew to unwind, rejoice, brag or learn for the next race. This home was the gathering spot, and this was clear.
Hover over the image to see the before and after photos
The Back Story
This newly renovated single story home was designed in an open-planned yet controlled manner. The home is used as a central gathering spot for the crews of yachts that undergo racing over the seasons. So, my client needed a home and garden that could accommodate large spontaneous entertaining gatherings with minimal effort.
The renovation stopped at the back wall of the house. It was closed off from the rest of the garden and visually shouted ‘there is nothing worthwhile past me’. The garden was semi functional but did not in any way allow you to comfortably drift from inside to out. Its design was far from parity to the home and as such the garden was to be lifted, shaken and re-designed.
Besides the limited access to the rear of the house we had to design a way to make two fundamentally apposing elements being ‘A home’ and ‘A place for large party gatherings’ work harmoniously.
Additionally we had the swimming pool to contend with. It actually sat 180mm above the finished floor level of the house. This made for a visual stumbling block and threw the balance out. We needed to make it feel in parity with the homes ground level and appear more integrated and deliberate.
One aspect that was critical was the designing ‘out’ the rear wall to the home and introducing structurally designed folding glass doors. This in itself immediately opened the two rooms into one room able to start a party quickly and easily.
The other element that was being given too much visual supremacy was the step from the home up to the pool. Yes, the pool was set some 180mm higher than the homes floor. We needed to grasp the elements that annoyed and quietly design around them so to actually turn a negative into a positive so to allow the newly extended home, existing swimming pool to provide a stunning, family-friendly space for entertaining large gatherings, namely post-race soirees for the local yacht club.
Outdoor entertainment was a high priority, which meant outdoor cooking was a must and so we designed a cooking station that would allow party-goers to sit at the outdoor kitchen, share a cold drink with the chef and be a part of the overall cooking experience yet allow people to meander through the rooms be them roofed or not.
Yes, the outdoor kitchen boasts a bespoke barbecue integrated into a bench made of highly polished formed concrete providing space for food preparation along with a built-in drinks cooler.
To resolve the level change between the contesting paved area and pool level we created a planter that when filled with strappy Liriope muscari ‘Samantha’, turns what could have been an awkward transition into an eye-catching feature – people don’t step on plants.
From what goes underfoot to what sits overhead, we needed to provide additional shelter from the setting westerly sun, so this was overcome by installed a structurally designed cantilevered vergola roofing system. To finish the garden off we leant heavily on the type of plant stock. Plants are so important and when used cleverly help immensely with the finishing of the design. One could say the frame to a picture.
From the client
We hired Chris to do a major re-landscaping job and design of an outdoor living area at our house in Woolooware.
Chris came to our home, he listened to our rather vague plans, he made suggestions and he proposed ideas. Our only requests were that it look natural be low maintenance and that the garden cover the fence.
Without further guidance, Chris produced a “wow” look for our outside living and entertaining area and garden. Creating on paper and later in the soil what we were dreaming about is a process that requires insight, passion, creativity and knowledge. This process also demands a level of trust, transparency and effective communication. Over the life of the project, Chris not only designed and created our dream garden and outdoor space, but effectively communicated his vision through site visits, email and phone, regularly reviewing the property plans and design work. Through the process, Chris maintained very clear expectations of time lines and costs, which we found to be extremely helpful and assisted us in avoiding any financial surprises.
It takes time and determination to provide the best. Chris’s work creates these “wow” moments – even long after the garden and BBQ installation and we could not be more pleased with the result; it is exactly what we wanted. After dealing with Chris, we will never consider using anyone else for our landscape/maintenance needs.
He is simply the best.
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Our clients brief was simple, if there is such a thing with this land terrain. “I want my daughter to be able to get married and have her reception within the garden” Talk about a challenge!