An Urban Escape


This inviting, multi-functional outdoor living space is as flexible as it is aesthetically pleasing

The outdoor space was small, the wish list long. Luckily, the designer, David Franklin of Franklin Landscape & Design, relishes a challenge. He’s someone who thrives under pressure, which is just as well when you consider this garden was created for the home that won the 2017 series of The Block.

David worked hand-in-hand with winning contestants Josh Barker and Elyse Knowles to deliver a modern, multi-functional outdoor living zone that proved such a perfect complement to the home that the property sold at auction for a record-breaking price.

“Josh and Elyse wanted a garden with ‘wow factor’ and one that tied into the design philosophy of the work they were doing in the home’s interior,” says David. “The overall feel of the interior was contemporary with subtle references to the heritage aspects of the Californian bungalow and finishing flourishes of tropical resort styling.

“One of the key elements of the brief was to include a swimming pool, which was a challenge given the small area and the need to include various other elements,” he explains. “Room needed to be found for a barbecue, an in-situ concrete bench seat, an outdoor table, lawn and cubby.”


From the concrete details to the lighting design, details play an essential part in Franklin’s design.


The main feature is the custom-designed boutique pool that is cleverly integrated into the space through the masterful manipulation of levels. Customisation is the key word here, with two custom-made, black powder-coated water spouts attached to the feature wall beside the pool — its name, The Elsternwick, formed in the pool’s cantilevered poured concrete edge.

Concrete makes another appearance in the barbecue benchtop, the bench seat that looks like it is a continuation of the bench/fireplace hearth inside the home, and the circular feature pot on the deck.

The skillful mixing of materials is one of the design’s standout features. There is timber, in the form of the radial timber battens that form part of the pool fence and screen the pool equipment and the deck, which was designed as an extension of the internal floor level, allowing for a seamless transition from indoor to outdoor entertaining.

The warmth of the wood is complemented by the sawn basalt steppers in the lawn and the step capping, and the walls of old red brick that reference the front of the renovated period home. Added texture is contributed by the plants.

David’s planting palette is well considered and integral to the success of the garden. In the garden beds you will spy Magnolia ‘St Mary’s’ underplanted with topiarised Buxus sempervirens, Clivia miniata and Ajuga reptans ‘Catlin’s Giant’. The feature pot on the deck boasts a Strelitzia nicolai and Dichondra ‘Silver Falls’, while the screen planting above the timber cladding is a mix of Gardenia augusta ‘Florida’, Hedera canariensis and more Dichondra ‘Silver Falls’.

The lighting is just as essential. “There are fairy lights in the large feature magnolia, up/down copper wall lights on the brick walls in both the pool area and around the barbecue, and underlighting to highlight the cantilevered pool at lawn level,” says David.


Featuring a modern and multi-functional outdoor living zone, David Franklin’s design delivers the ‘wow factor’.

An eye for detail is evident throughout, from the custom-made cushions that grace the concrete bench seat and the poolside lounging area to the naming of the pool. It gives this urban escape — where every centimetre of space has been put to excellent use and every opportunity maximised — a cohesive and polished look.

Project details

Landscape design and construction
Franklin Landscape & Design
Mobile 0401 383 827
Photography by Patrick Redmond


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