Summer-Ready Outdoor Entertaining Space for Your Next Family Outing


An elegant fusion of home and integrated outdoor space on Sydney’s leafy lower north shore

A young family of four commissioned John Storch, principal of A Total Concept Landscape Architects, to design their swimming pool, cabana, outdoor entertaining room and gardens for their lower north shore Sydney property. The result is a beautifully integrated external space including swimming pool and outdoor rooms that adds enormously to the quality of life for the owners and their children.

All chosen colours have been designed to blend with existing materials and the dappled and shaded formal greens of the gardens and lawns. The vibrant glass tile used in the large geometric-shaped pool contrast beautifully with the blond limestone paving of the external
paved areas and the timber floor of the outdoor entertaining room. This flooring flows seamlessly from the matching timber flooring of the home through generous door openings.

The large pool bench acts as a safe haven for young guests and doubles as an informal seat in the pool, providing the perfect place for teenagers to chat. The pool depths have been designed to be deeper than usual to ensure any unsupervised diving by the two teenage boys is safe.

Located to the rear of the pool area is the cabana. Its position visually maximises the lawn and garden and offers views across the pool towards the house and outdoor
entertaining room. “This has allowed us to create two shaded entertaining spots, one for adults and one for teenagers and their friends,” says John. An elevated lawn area adjacent to the residence creates a level transitional zone between the home and rear spaces, adding interest to the design.

The cabana has been designed to double as a rumpus and sleepover room for children. It’s far enough away so that loud music and electronic games are not heard in the main home, but still close enough for parents to keep a watchful eye.

The traditional style and colours of the cabana tie back to the design of the house to ensure the overall project is in keeping with the residence. The roof of the poolside cabana has been designed as a lean-to, allowing for skylights and a very high ceiling. It’s great for light, airflow and to visually increase the size of the cabana.

An existing verandah area previously designed and built by others was too small for entertaining purposes. “Our client decided to bite the bullet and rebuild and extend both the entertaining area and the roofed covering over it to more substantial dimensions, with generous steps surrounding the space that visually integrate the area leading out to the surrounding lawns and paved spot designed for a basketball hoop,” says John.

The outdoor entertaining room adjacent to the residence has been designed to complement the new work, and a large kitchen has been incorporated to one side, allowing for extended family entertaining during festive seasons. The intricate built-in cabinetry incorporating Caesarstone benchtop, under-mounted sink, stainless-steel fridge, dishwasher and barbecue was designed for successful entertaining. Large skylights and adjustable louvred windows allow light into the outdoor entertaining room and create privacy for the adjoining property.

At night, lights in the pool and lighting in both the cabana and outdoor entertaining room create mood effects, with washes of light and dancing shadows across the water of the pool. This includes concealed strip lighting and LED downlighting in the ceiling, together with step lights and energy-efficient LED lighting throughout the paving, lawn and garden areas.

All electrical components associated with the pool such as lighting, pool heating and garden lights are linked to the  electrical switching system of the cabana and residence with a two-way pool control system.

The surrounding gardens include formal hedges of Syzygium ‘Cascade’ (Cascade Lilly Pilly), Buxus sempervirens (English box) and Agapanthus orientalis ‘Blue’ (blue agapanthus) together with Cerastium tomentosum (snow-in-summer), Gardenia ‘Florida’ (Florists Gardenia) and Clivea miniata (Clivea). Specimen plantings
of Magnolia ‘Little Gem’ (Rusty Magnolia) and potted Fortunella hindsi (Hong Kong kumquat), together with formal tree planting of Magnolia ‘Exmouth’ (Magnolia), provide a mix of heady perfumed flowers at various times of the year to add interest to the project.

A Total Concept is an established multi-award-winning design practice covering the integration of internal and external areas for projects ranging from simple family homes and elaborate residential properties to boutique
and resort-style developments. The company provides a total service that creates a fusion of home and garden areas for clients.

“We specialise in the integration of beautiful and functional swimming pools, gardens, cabanas and the home itself for projects ranging from the smallest inner city courtyard to family residences and large country estates,” explains John. “We can help with any design project anywhere in Australia, from contemporary through to traditional.”

Services extend from consultations, designs and specifications, council approvals and builder recommendations to the total management of the project and contract administration, for home alterations and additions, pools, cabanas and gardens.

The company brings together all aspects of the project, helping to explain the alternatives available, then holistically designing your property and specifying the choice of materials and colours, planting, lighting, internal fixtures and fittings, flooring and paving.

For more information

A Total Concept