A Pair of Seamlessly Integrated Outdoor Rooms Enhance Alfresco Living


John Storch, a landscape architect and principal of A Total Concept, was commissioned to design the swimming pool, cabana, outdoor entertaining room and gardens for this Lower North Shore Sydney property, which is home to a young family of four.

“The cabana was set adjacent to the pool to the rear of the property. This was to visually maximise the lawn and garden, and to allow views from the cabana backward towards the home and outdoor entertaining room,” says John. “In turn, this allowed us to take advantage of the level changes across the property to develop an elevated lawn area adjacent to the residence, thereby creating transitional zones between the home and rear spaces, and adding interest to the design.

“The existing verandah area was too small for comfortable entertaining so our client decided to ‘bite the bullet’ and have the area rebuilt and extended. We also added generous steps around the space to visually integrate the area leading out to the surrounding lawns and paved area designed for a basketball hoop.”


The poolside cabana services the swimmers of the family and allows parents to closely supervise their children. It is also designed so that as the children get older, it can double as a rumpus and sleepover room that is far enough away from the home that loud music and electronic games can’t be heard but is still close enough for parents to keep a watchful eye on teenagers.

The cabana is flanked by mirrored wing walls. On one side, the wall hides a utility area; on the other, the pool filter and storage area. Wisteria sinensis is draped around the feature mirrors that reflect the vibrant blue of the pool and the rich green of the gardens — this has the effect of integrating and seating the height of the cabana into the garden.


The traditional style and colours of the poolside cabana tie back to the design of the home. The cabana’s skillion roof has skylights and a high ceiling, great for light and airflow. “The outdoor entertaining room adjacent to the residence complements the new work and a large kitchen has been incorporated to one side, allowing for extended family entertaining,” says John.

“The built-in cabinetry, incorporating a Caesarstone benchtop, under-mounted sink, stainless steel fridge, dishwasher and barbecue, is complemented with large skylights and adjustable louvred windows that allow light in and create privacy to the adjoining property.”


The understated glass tile used in the pool contrasts beautifully with the blond limestone paving of the paved areas and the timber floor of the outdoor entertaining room matches the home’s timber flooring.

The lush surrounding gardens include formal hedges of Syzygium ‘Cascade’, Buxus sempervirens and Agapanthus orientalis ‘Blue’ together with Cerastium tomentosum, Gardenia ‘Florida’ and Clivea miniata. Then there are specimen plantings of Magnolia ‘Little Gem’ and potted Fortunella hindsi along with the formal tree planting of Magnolia ‘Exmouth’ — this provides a heady mix of pretty perfumed flowers at various times of the year.


The end result is a pair of beautifully integrated outdoor rooms that add enormously to the quality of life enjoyed by the happy homeowners and their children. The visual simplicity of the design and subtle use of quality materials unifies the project and sets the components well into the surrounding landscaped gardens to create what John calls “two rooms for one”.

A Total Concept is a well-established award-winning design and management practice specialising in the integration of beautiful and functional swimming pools, gardens and cabanas. Projects range from the smallest inner-city courtyards and simplest family homes to elaborate residential properties, large country estates and both boutique and resort-style developments anywhere in Australia.


A Total Concept provides services extending from consultations, designs and specifications, council approvals and builder recommendations to the total management of a project and contract administration.

The company bridges the gap by providing a total service that creates a fusion of home and garden for clients. The experienced team brings together all aspects of your home by explaining the alternatives available, then designing your property to include materials and paint colours, planting, lighting, tile and paving selections through to cabana fixtures and fittings, kitchens and bathrooms.

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