Ur­ban re­treat An out­door area that has ev­ery­thing this fam­ily needs

THE DE­SIGN OF THIS IM­PRES­SIVE AL­FRESCO AREA DE­LIV­ERS EV­ERY­THING AN OUT­DOOR-LOV­ING FAM­ILY OF SIX COULD WISH FOR

Home Beautiful - - CONTENTS - WORDS KYLIE JACKES PHO­TOG­RA­PHY SHA­NIA SHEGEDYN STYLING ALANA LANGAN

FIVE YEARS AGO, when Mel­bourne cou­ple Sarah and Steve bought their Ed­war­dian home in a leafy sub­urb 10 kilo­me­tres east of the city, one of the big at­trac­tions was the vast 2500 square me­tre block. “It had a huge back­yard with a ten­nis court and hotch­potch of sheds and a granny flat, so we saw the po­ten­tial to trans­form it into a really func­tional out­door space,” says Steve, who works in fi­nance. “Rather than try­ing to repli­cate the pe­riod fea­tures of the orig­i­nal home, we wanted an en­tirely dif­fer­ent look at the back, which made the most of nat­u­ral light and had a con­nec­tion with the out­doors.”

The cou­ple en­listed the ex­per­tise of de­signer Matt Herbert from Herbert & Howes to turn their ideas into re­al­ity. He de­vised a strik­ing con­tem­po­rary ex­ten­sion, en­com­pass­ing a spa­cious out­door liv­ing and en­ter­tain­ing area fin­ished in a tex­tu­ral sand ce­ment ren­der. Sarah’s dad, Rex Hirst of Let’s Talk Kitchens, was re­spon­si­ble for fit­ting-out the open-air kitchen, dis­creetly housed in a min­i­mal­ist box, and a new land­scap­ing scheme was also key to trans­form­ing the space for Sarah and Steve's four sport-lov­ing kids Estella, Mat­tea, Archer and Ru­pert.

“It’s amaz­ing what can hap­pen when all par­ties come to­gether with one view and all work to­gether to achieve it” ~ Ian Barker, Ian Barker Gar­dens

The out­door plan in­cluded a large 12.5m pool and a level lawn area so there was plenty of space for the kids to kick around a foot­ball and play cricket. The land­scap­ing brief given to Ian Barker of Ian Barker Gar­dens was to cre­ate a nat­u­ral, low-main­te­nance and co­he­sive plant­ing scheme that com­ple­mented the orig­i­nal pe­riod fa­cade and worked equally well with the con­tem­po­rary ex­ten­sion. As a re­sult, an ar­ray of grasses and peren­ni­als were used to de­fine the gar­den edges and pro­vide colour and tex­ture, with great care taken dur­ing the build to pro­tect the es­tab­lished shade trees, which of­fer abun­dant green­ery.

One tree that needed to be moved to make room for the pool was a 40-year-old crepe myr­tle. Keen to pre­serve it, the cou­ple put their trust in Ian and his team, who ex­ca­vated the tree, wrapped the root struc­ture in hes­sian and stored it off-site for a year dur­ing the build, be­fore it was re­lo­cated to a prime po­si­tion sit­ting along­side the new fire­place (see page 183). “Trans­plant­ing the crepe myr­tle was a real high­light of the project,” en­thuses Ian, who ad­vised Steve and Sarah the process had a 70 per cent suc­cess rate. “I’m so glad they took the chance, be­cause to me the tree, with its gnarled trunk and beau­ti­ful pink sum­mer flow­ers, really makes the space.”

To co­or­di­nate the vast scope of works, which in­cluded de­mol­ish­ing and re­mov­ing sev­eral ex­ist­ing struc­tures and lev­el­ling sec­tions of the block, the project was staged over 18 months. Steve says the wait was well worth it. “By tak­ing our time, we got ex­actly what we wanted – func­tional spa­ces we can use all the time,” he says. “It’s got ev­ery­thing we need and once we’re out­side – we stay out there.”

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