Outdoor Rooms Design & Living

8th Edition

Words: Kate McKee - Photos: Patrick Redmond

Versatility and verve


The garden design aim for this outdoor area was for the owners to be able to entertain their friends while being able to look over the stunning backyard. Lynelle, a full time mum, and Matt, a real estate agent, have a young family, so it was important for the area to be suitable for kids to run around and grow up in, as well as an easy entertaining space for the couple’s family and friends.

"We were primarily after a resort feel to our outdoor space; 'says Lynelle."It also had to below-maintenance; with two small children, time is precious. The design also had to be practical for a growing family with increasing social commitments."

Melbourne Landscape Designers, Exquisite Gardens Australia was trusted with the design and construction and worked closely with the home owners to achieve a unique landscape for the Cowes, Victoria, property. John Woollard's relationship with the clients extends much further back than the design and construction of their dream outdoor space: John was part of Lynelle and Matt's wedding party.

"Matt and John have been good mates for over 10 years now; confirms Lynelle."We have been continually impressed with the landscapes created by Exquisite Gardens and have been very proud of their success in winning numerous design awards for their work."

The family uses the outside area mainly as a relaxing haven for themselves or for entertaining family and friends. "Nathan, our three-year-old, loves to play out on the large deck, whether he is on his bike or scooter or pretending to catch fish out of the large pots," says Lynelle. "It is such a wonderful big space for him to play in."

During summer; the pool is a big draw card for family and friends "During the warmer months, Matt and I use the space primarily for entertaining. This is such a simple process with the outdoor kitchen. Having the fridge and sink right there with the barbecue is fantastic"

The fully equipped kitchen makes outdoor cooking enjoyable all year round, from poolside barbecues to steaming-hot winter soups and stews near the open fireplace. The simple and accessible kitchen layout and selection of bar stools mean entertaining a crowd a relaxed affair with everything just a stone's throw from the sunken lounge area and pool. The designated chef can enjoy socialising and being a part of the action while cooking, thanks to the open kitchen and high seating options.

"We use the outdoor space frequently and for a wide variety of entertaining purposes," says Lynelle. "From kids' parties to formal catered events, the space molds in to all our requirements."

Some of Lynelle and Matt's friends have even chosen to hold their wedding at the residence, a testament to the outside area's design and versatility. The impressive space lends itself to any type or casual or special occasion. The open layout is perfect for big functions or large crowds, yet the large. Uncluttered space is still inviting and self-­ contained as well as offering privacy from the neighbours.

One of the key features of the outdoor area is without a doubt its adaptability. The design lends itself to entertaining large crowds as much as it does to snuggling up and relaxing next to the fire with a good book when there's a chill in the air The space also works well in every season-an important element There's nothing worse than having a beautiful outdoor area that can only be enjoyed at certain times of the year The open fire place and cushioned sunken lounge are perfect for the cooler months. While the pool is of course perfect for the warmer months when a dip is a must. Lynelle and Matt say the sunken lounge is a big hit all year round but winter is when the area really comes into its own "When the fire is blazing you can recline and gaze into it for hours. It is just so relaxing,” says Lynelle. The expert layout of the fireplace also means smoke is drawn up through the chimney so that sitting by the fire is a comfy and pleasurable experience and not a smoky one.

It's interesting to note that the outdoor fireplace was initially planned to be a water feature but it was decided that the fireplace would be much more suited to the Victorian climate.

The eye-catching large stone feature wall that houses the fireplace provides the area with privacy and a point of difference. "The sunken lounge creates a feeling of being in a separate room and breaks up the deck space very effectively," notes Lynelle.

Wharf-style decking and random stone paving were used for the flooring surrounding the sunken lounge area as well as inside it. The rich, brown tones of the wood decking work well with the nude tones of the stone feature wall and flooring. Simple black and white soft furnishings for the lounging areas near the fireplace and around the pool and a sense of comfort while not detracting from the natural contrasting hues of the space Accessories such as the white large pots in the garden add another layer of style to the areas aesthetics, again not complicating or cluttering the space.

Extensive rendered brick walls were constructed for the garden planters and retaining walls adding simple lines and a tidy and well maintained appearance to the perimeter. Another significant feature of this outdoor living zone is the garden and pool lighting, which when turned on at night is nothing short of spectacular. The well-placed lighting allows the space to be utilised to its full potential when the sun goes down a swell as during the day.

The small trees and palms are illuminated at night by a selection of up-lights while down-lights cast a bright glow on the kitchen area and bar. The border shrubbery and trees are kept lush and green by a fully automated PVC irrigation system. This easy-to use system means the garden area can be kept looking its best without much maintenance, a priority for the homeowners. There is also extensive sub-surface drainage to all the gardens and behind all retaining walls.

"I think Exquisite Gardens utilised the space perfectly and created a wonderful relaxed feel with excellent attention to the finer details"; concludes Lynelle. "They have achieved the resort style we were after and we couldn't be happier".

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