Space can be a limiting factor when all the popular elements of an alfresco are required, but this seamlessly connected outdoor living area has it all
When space is a limiting factor, which is common in Melbourne’s inner city, and all the popular elements of alfresco living are required, the landscape designer is presented with a challenge: to simultaneously address the site restrictions and design a garden that meets the homeowners’ often long list of requirements.
This was precisely the challenge Justine Carlile of Justine Carlile Landscape Design faced when the owners of this property asked her to give them their dream outdoor entertaining space. While the design brief started with a relatively simple request for a stylish indoor–outdoor living space, the scope of the project rapidly expanded.
After extensive discussions, it became clear that the owners wanted a space that was heavily focused on entertaining, and that what they really craved was an alfresco oasis with an outdoor room that would be seamlessly integrated with a swimming pool and spa as well as a small patch of lawn and flourishing garden beds.
The main focus of the planting adjacent to the pool, which was tucked into a corner of the garden, is a row of Oldhamii bamboo. This not only screens the neighbouring house, it provides a refreshing tropical backdrop. The bamboo is complemented by low-level plantings of bird-of-paradise in front of the timber screen wall in the lawn area. This wall acts as a frame for the oversized steel clock, which is visible from all points of the landscape as well as the home’s interior living areas.
Also incorporated into the pool area is a raised timber platform, which is just the spot for a quiet coffee or aperitif. Next to the deck there is a garden bed with a cycad underplanted with liriope, both hardy plants well suited to a poolside location. Opposite, there is a spa, which is clad with elegant glass mosaic tiles and is only a couple of metres from the outdoor room.
The capacious outdoor room is very much an extension of the house. It includes an expansive food preparation and cooking area, a space for dining and a lounge area. Each of these luxurious outdoor living zones flows effortlessly into the other and out to the lawn and pool areas. The outdoor room features flamed granite paving with a chunky inlay of tallowwood in the lounge area. The outdoor kitchen boasts a floor-to-ceiling wall of honed bluestone and granite benches. To cater for different cuisines, it not only contains a full-size teppanyaki hotplate but also an elaborate smoker, both integrated into the benches.
For warmth and to set the scene for cosy chats, the lounge area features an impressive locally designed and manufactured wood-burning fireplace. There is also a ceiling-mounted electric heater over the dining table. To ensure that the rear of the house and the outdoor room is as bright as possible, there are skylights in the roof over the outdoor kitchen and electrically controlled aluminium louvres in the roof over the dining and lounge areas. These louvres can be re-angled at the press of a button, to let sunlight in or capture cooling breezes. They can also just as easily be completely shut when it rains to keep the wet weather at bay. In designing this outdoor oasis, Justine took a holistic approach that ensured the indoor and outdoor living spaces combined in a seamless manner and that the pool and spa could be viewed and enjoyed equally from both the outdoor room and the home’s interior kitchen and living areas. The upshot? A beautifully balanced, easy-flowing design that embodies alfresco living at its very best.
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Written by John Carlile
Photography by Patrick Redmond
Originally in Outdoor Rooms Issue 36