Outdoor Rooms Issue 7
A simple and stylish timber-clad cabana and plunge pool within a tropical garden setting provide these busy home owners with their very own backyard oasis
When looking to create their own private outdoor sanctuary for their Northern Beaches home, Jason and Sarah decided they wanted a landscape designer who could manage the entire project from conception to completion. The couple enlisted the help of John Storch and the team at Total Concept Landscape Architects & Swimming Pool Designers to turn their outdoor vision into a reality, and integrate a pool, tropical gardens and an outdoor room into their existing residence.
“We are both busy professionals so we wanted someone who could look after everything for us, from the initial consultation, designs and specifications to the management of the project during construction,” says Jason. “We wanted help with paving selection, landscape lighting, plants, pool equipment, as well as choosing materials, cabana fixtures and fittings to ensure that our money was best spent to enhance our lifestyle and maximise the return on our biggest investment — our home.”
The outdoor room and garden are best described as casual beach style, with a tropical aesthetic for the garden; both fit in perfectly with the beachside suburb where the owners reside.
The outdoor room, pool and garden areas of this property are a stunning example of John Storch’s design philosophy, which is to simply keep it simple. “Simple design lines, simple shapes and simple colour palettes,” he says. “The ‘simple’ concept always works better when compared to complex intricate designs. They are also more pleasing to the eye and don’t visually date over the years,” says John.
The overall design integrates the beach cabana, plunge pool, lawn and tropical gardens, blending all features together seamlessly. The cabana has been designed with simple clean lines and a large full-width opening of concertinaed doors to incorporate the cabana with the plunge pool.
The room has a waterproof membrane to all walls, floor and the ceiling so that little wet feet or summer water fights will not damage the surfaces of the area, allowing it to remain in peak condition for years to come. The space also incorporates a bar and kitchenette with built-in cabinetry, as well as a generous all-weather lounge setting — all of which make the room a perfect option for casual entertaining.
“We work long hours and like to unwind at home in our own ‘resort’ and entertain in small numbers,” says John.
The outdoor space is designed to work well with each of the four seasons, however summer is, of course, a favourite due to the pool and cabana combination. Autumn, spring and winter are all enjoyable thanks to the heating John designed for the pool and cabana. “Even in winter it’s great to sit within the cabana and read to our young children or relax during their afternoon naps for a bit of adult time out,” says Sarah.
The cabana also provides a perfect shaded entertaining space adjacent to the swimming pool, where the owners can relax with their friends while ensuring complete supervision of their children near the swimming pool. “We have a young family and we feel safe entertaining in our pool cabana while the children are playing in the pool or adjacent garden and lawn areas,” says Sarah.
As Jason and Sarah’s children grow, the outdoor cabana can be used for a number of different purposes throughout the years. “As the young children grow up, owners often use the cabana for different situations, such as a rumpus room with stereo system for the children to entertain their own friends,” comments John, who has been designing outdoor areas for more than 25 years. “When the kids become teenagers or beyond, the cabana can be used as a bedroom or as a guest room.”
At night, the outdoor room is well lit with both lamps and halogen lighting in the ceiling for functional purposes; together with energy-efficient LED lighting throughout the garden areas, this creates a wonderful mood in an environment that’s awash with light and dancing shadows over the swimming pool. These lighting features transform an idyllic day-time paradise into a wonderful entertaining area when Jason and Sarah entertain guests by the glowing lights of the pool.
The plunge pool is hard to resist in any season, with its vibrant blue-coloured water that reflects the sky by day and the cabana lights at night. The brilliant blue of the water also contrasts elegantly with the blond travertine cabana flooring, travertine poolside paving and large, sprawling lawns.
The pool steps and underwater bench double as informal seats within the plunge pool, and with heated spa jets incorporated in the backrest, the pool provides a perfect rejuvenating place for a chat or to just close your eyes and forget about the stresses of the day. The underwater bench also acts as a safe haven for children within the pool, providing young ones with a sense of security and a place to splash and play.
The northerly aspect of the property provides sun all day long as well as shelter from strong southerly storms. This allows for an amazing tropical garden filled with giant strelitzia, kentia palms, red and bronze cordylines, frangipanis, variegated cannas, native violets and philodendrons to flourish. The beautiful garden, as with the pool, can also be relished at night with the aid of 240-volt spotlighting, which is used within the gardens to illuminate the area’s large angophoras.
In Jason and Sarah’s opinion, the key feature of the space is the simplicity of the design and how it fits effortlessly with their casual at-home lifestyle.
A Total Concept’s 10 +1 golden rules for designing outdoor rooms
Investigate all underground services; know where they are. Research all authorities’ requirements and see if you need approvals. Look through magazines, keep copies of things you want to incorporate in the design.
If it’s all too hard, employ a landscape architect to help. Spend the money — it’s worth getting it right the first time.
The style must be compatible but not necessarily the same as the house. If possible, use the same materials and pick up the same colours in the landscape as the house. Bands of similar plants will look better than a mix of many plants.
Simple, clean lines for the main design items always work better than complex, intricate shapes and are more pleasing to the eye.
Keep things related to human scale to make the environment more comfortable to be in. Size is important. A 10-metre Buddha may look inspiring in a large temple ground but may not have the same effect in a courtyard garden.
How will that priceless Mexican vase cascading water into a pool look in two years time?
Always incorporate at least one feature in a garden as a focal point. A well-positioned pond, pool, plant, vase or mirror could lift a garden from pleasant to electrifying.
Mulch and irrigation systems are worth the cost.
Always wait for what you want. The most expensive finishes are not always the best but if they are your choice and you can’t afford them now, wait rather than settle for second best. In the long term, you will have no regrets.
Appeal to the senses. Fragrant flowers for smelling, coloured leaves to look at, textured walls to feel, running water to be heard, fruit to be tasted.
Have fun with the design. Remember you are the one that will use it. If you want the Aztec sun wall hanging, fluorescent pink furnishings, plastic plants and fibreglass giraffe slide, go for it!