Barbecue and alfresco dining in multifunctional courtyard

A multifunctional courtyard in North Bondi that has it all


A bright and welcoming multifunctional courtyard that will stand the test of time

With the renovation of her North Bondi apartment building completed, the owner of this bijou garden decided the time was right to similarly transform her personal outdoor areas. She wanted the design to extend her living space, provide a place she and her friends could enjoy, and add value to the apartment. Moreover, the finished design – a multifunctional courtyard – had to have a relaxed but private feel.

“As the kitchen and living areas open up to the courtyard-style garden, it was vital that it be an inviting and beautiful space to look out onto — and that it be functional, providing a place to sit, unwind, cook and dine. Specifically, the apartment owner requested a built-in barbecue with storage and an allocated dining space and lounge area,” explains Nicola Cameron, Principal Designer and Director of award-winning Pepo Botanic Design.

The wish list also included screening to protect the garden from neighbouring properties and the pedestrian footpath that overlooks the open courtyard space, and a planting scheme that would be subtropical/coastal in style. A place where she could grow herbs was desired as was an irrigation system and garden lighting.

“The area was a blank canvas with no planting and very little structure so we used the architecture of the apartment building and the colours of its newly-painted exterior as a reference point,” says Nicola. “The designed retaining planter boxes, for example, were painted the same colour as the building and the feature elements, including the barbecue splashback and pots, borrowed from the pastel palette.”

Given the small scale of the site, the inclusion of three distinct spaces — namely lounge, dining and cooking/barbecue zones — was a challenge, but it wasn’t the only one. Adds Nicola, “The northern aspect of this coastal site means that in the summer the courtyard is hot and windy. Although there was an opportunity to build an awning from the building this was not possible due to strata restrictions. Also, the client specifically requested we not include a large shade tree, restricting us to a limited selection of shade structures.”

By taking a holistic approach, Nicola, who worked closely with her design team, was able to achieve a great deal in a diminutive space, and by overseeing the entire project, she was able to ensure the finished garden stayed true to the original design intent. This involved everything from organising engineers to review existing and designed walls prior to construction documentation to managing the construction process.

Nicola also worked with Kastell Kitchens on the design of the outdoor kitchen and with Marble Matters in the selection of the Lara Cream limestone paving. The result is a bright and welcoming garden that won Gold in the Residential Landscape Design Less Than 50m² category and Silver in the Plantscape Design category in the 2019 AILDM National Landscape Design Awards.

For more information

Pepo Botanic Design

This project is an entrant in the Outdoor Design 2022 NSW Landscaper of the Year Awards, celebrating residential design innovation and construction excellence. All entrants were featured in Outdoor Design Issue 42, with winners to be announced in Outdoor Design Issue 43.