modern outdoor entertaining area

Sunken treasure


Sensational modern design & contemporary landscaping perfect for entertaining.

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For a garden that was showing its age and not relevant to the new owners of the property, Dean Herald of Rolling Stone Landscapes was called upon to review how best to update the space to cater for entertaining friends and family. The design work was not limited to the external areas but also included the internal space, along with doors and windows.

A contemporary design took shape with a firm focus on bringing people together with all of the living and entertaining zones forming an overall cohesive design.

“I explored the possibilities of creating dedicated external spaces for each entertainment activity,” says Dean. “With the existing pool level set, I saw the opportunity to use a change in levels to help communicate the different areas.”

With this in mind, a sunken lounge area was created with fixed hardwood bench seating and dressed with soft cushions that was surrounded and softened with Japanese box hedge.

Within the sunken space is a raised stone wall with a wood fireplace and handy timber storage display — perfect for those evenings with a bit of a chill in the air. The lounge area also contains a custom-made stainless steel icebox so drinks can be stored conveniently and at arm’s reach when needed.

Adjacent to and above this sunken lounge is a fully functional outdoor kitchen with all the necessary appliances for entertaining, such as a double glass-door refrigerator, a teppanyaki barbecue, a sink and generous bench space for the preparation of meals.

The area is covered with a flat roof structure equipped with heaters that make the space inviting and usable year-round. The dining area is positioned on a raised timber deck to provide definition from the large bluestone pavers that were installed throughout the other areas such as by the pool.

Dean designed and fabricated the table to best suit the location and included a bioethanol fire in the centre of the custom-made dining table, which creates a brilliant feature in the evening.

Existing planting has been blended with the new to great effect. New rendered and painted retaining walls were added to shape the garden and preserve the already established planting, such as a sizable mature date palm.

Japanese sago palms (Cycas revoluta) were added to the existing plant material, along with little gem magnolias (Magnolia grandiflora ‘Little gem’), slender weavers bamboo (Bambusa textilis ‘gracilis’), xanadu (Philodendron ‘Xanadu’) variegated mondo (Ophiopogon intermedians ‘Stripey White’) and star jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides).

Lighting effects complete the picture with downlights used in the kitchen zone and deck lights for the sunken lounge. The pool lighting and strategically placed garden lights make a beautiful scene for when the sun goes down. In fact, the owner’s thought their new outdoor area was such a knockout that new frameless glass doors were installed at the rear of the home so they could enjoy an unobstructed view of the outdoor living areas from the indoor space.


Landscape design Dean Herald of Rolling Stone Landscapes



Words Kate McKee Photography Danny Kildare

From Outdoor Rooms magazine Issue 21