Full view of outdoor living space

An Outdoor Space With Multiple Living Options


Day or night, these intelligently designed outdoor spaces provide the homeowners with multiple living options

In the hands of the right designer, a steeply sloping backyard isn’t a problem — it’s an opportunity to create something unique and bespoke. Here, Nick McCarthy, head designer and director of Urban Escape Landscaping & Pools, has taken a once unloved and unused precipitous rear garden and transformed it into a multi-level, multi-functional outdoor escape.

“The goal was to provide multiple spaces for entertaining, introduce a swimming pool and create a level rear lawn. The main entertaining area had to be covered and equipped for alfresco cooking and relaxing, there needed to be a deck attached to the house for day-to-day use, and an inviting pool zone that could be used for family fun or entertaining guests,” explains Nick.

Outdoor living space

Comfort and convenience

These were the bywords when designing and equipping the pavilion-style, solid-roofed main entertaining area. There is an outdoor kitchen with a barbecue, bar fridge and plenty of bench space, a ceiling fan for cooling down, a patio heater for warming up and stylish outdoor seating.

“The multiple levels of the new garden design hide the significant slope while simultaneously providing a selection of inviting, usable outdoor areas, each linked with steps. Each space is distinct but the flow is seamless,” says Nick. The upper deck next to the house, an inviting space used for dining and everyday living, steps down to an expanse of paving that delivers you to the slightly elevated pavilion. From the paved area, one set of steps leads you down to the pool; another takes you to the lush green lawn the kids use as a play zone.

For the house-level deck and timber pool surrounds, Urban Escape used spotted gum. For the paving and pool coping, Nick employed travertine. The use of these contrasting but complementary natural materials brings visual warmth to the outdoor spaces. To ensure uninterrupted views around the pool, which was also built by Urban Escape, there is glass fencing.

The Green Thumb

When selecting the plants for this project, Nick drew on his horticultural expertise to create a plant palette perfectly tailored to match the growing conditions, the amount of time the home owners had to devote to maintenance, and the outdoor design. Highlights of the planting scheme include a cluster of giant bird of paradise to one side of the pool along with a feature frangipani, colourful cordylines, clipped coastal rosemary and drifts of native grasses.

Urban Escape began as a structural landscape company with a clear but simple vision of creating quality and stylish gardens to suit its clients’ needs. Owner Nick holds a science degree in horticulture and landscape design, and shortly after starting a landscaping business he was inspired to become a licensed pool builder.

“There was a tendency to put pools where the client said, without thinking it through, or even to just put it where it was easiest for the builder, rather than best for the outcome,” explains Nick. “That is essentially why I got into building pools — so I could be sure our pool was put in the best location to work. Sometimes an architect just draws a rectangle and that is it. A swimming pool is a big item and needs to be integrated and thought through so it works with the landscape.”

Urban Escape

The Boutique company has now been an integral part of Sydney’s landscaping and pool industry for more than 25 years. Urban Escape offers a holistic approach to outdoor design, from consultation and design to council submissions, maintenance, landscaping construction as well as pool/spa construction, resulting in a seamless and stress-free process for clients.

The company prides itself on its personalised service, limiting its clientele to those in the Sydney metro area, creating and renovating between 10 and 15 pools per year and going through a lengthy consultation process to achieve a comprehensive brief prior to design work. Urban Escape has been recognised for its quality workmanship and has received many awards, both local and national, for its pools and gardens.


For more information

Urban Escape