Time to retreat
Owners Rod and Jenny turned to landscape designer Ben Mahony from Mahony Landscapes to transform their once cramped pool area into a generous entertainment zone with a coastal Italian feel. "It's now a space where kids can play or swim, while adults use it for a casual meal," explains Ben. Cushions and towels from The Design Hunter add comfort, and a large umbrella (try the Shelta Terrazzo 'Samarkand' for similar) offers shade.
The family lived in the US for several years and picked up the table, chairs and sun loungers from Resoration Hardware. "We brought our favourite pieces back with us," says Rod. "They work really well, but it's the garden itself that is the star." An antique urn from Parterre links to the greenery and a White Home linen tablecloth adds a hint of romance. The pool's lush surrounds are provided by trees that add height to the garden and help to break up the formality of the geometric hedges and hard surfaces. Birches and standard maples are used as focal points that will add shade in future summers, while the borrowed vistas of neighbouring gardens add to the sense of privacy and enclosure.
Family garden design
For most parents, combining their tastes and interests with those of their sports-mad teenagers will be a recipe for compromise, but in Rod and Jenny's revamped Sydney garden, the results are superb. A series of open-plan living areas expand from the house, with both lounging zones for the grown-ups and makeshift cricket pitches for the kids. "The couple wanted an indoor-outdoor flow from the kitchen out to the pool area, and then a second sweep of garden linking the pool to a barbecue terrace," says Ben Mahony, the designer behind the transformation. "My goal was to integrate it all as generously as possible, so people could move around without squeezing through small gaps."
Complicating factors included the twisting nature of the block, minimal access and an existing large pool. The first step was removing much of the old garden, leaving only a few specimen trees in place. Repositioning the pool was also considered, but "We came up with a way to keep it in place, which saved a lot of money," says Ben. The frameless glass fence was moved closer to the boundary of the property, creating a zone that contains the pool, a paved area and a stretch of lawn. "It's much more functional now, both for the kids to play in and for us to live in."
The overall look is undeniably luxurious, but liveable, too. A stone barbecue surround and travertine pavers lend a classic Italian aesthetic, and the deep blue pool speaks of summer holidays. The final touch was evergreen plantlife, with seasonal blooms providing fragrance and colour. "It's a garden that looks good year-round," says Ben. "But you can still see the seasons changing within it."
"Jenny and Rod love to entertain," says Ben. "From this terrace it's easy to transport food to the pool or lower lawn." A Tucker 'S-class' barbecue means that even large parties are easily catered for, while matched pots of clipped buxus give the utilitarian area a sophisticated touch.