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outdoor room with a view

From Habitat magazine - issue 01

It was a fairly typical backyard – slightly sloping lawn, foliage around the edges, a few failing fruit trees and neighbours on all sides. The transformation was total. And the final result is a private, luxurious outdoor living area with a stunning view.

When it came to re-vamping their garden, the owners of this home had several objectives. First, they wanted to create their own outdoor view; second, they wanted a flush-deck pool that was easily available to the house, and had good space around it for entertaining family and friends; and finally, they wanted privacy without blocking the sun.

They are planning a full renovation of their home, starting at the back and working their way forward, and brought in architect Malcolm Taylor of XSite Architects to give shape to their ideas. They had commissioned Malcolm before for an apartment garden and knew they liked his work.

“Malcolm was particularly good at drawing, in a three-dimensional sense, what he thought the area would look like,” say the owners. “That was really useful, because it can be really hard to picture it from a plan. We’re very happy that he felt he could experiment with us as he did, because we are delighted with the results.”

Pool and patio
For a non-slip finish around your home, use Resene Non-Skid Deck & Path, tinted to complement your colour scheme, to reduce the risk of accident.

Bi-fold doors open wide to the new outdoor vista. The immediate impression is of a continuous, even flow from the home to the deck, the pool and the garden beyond, all emphasised by the flush surface of the water. Colour and texture attract the eye to the other elements of the landscape, but the pool is the centrepiece of the design.

“It is the most unique feature of the landscape,” says Malcolm. “We used a sculptural technique to draw the water straight to the edge and built a weir all around the pool. The surface, therefore, has a flat, still, reflective quality – there are no ripples bouncing off the side walls.”

At the far end is a raised vessel fountain, which can be dramatically uplit at night. The gentle sound of water as it overflows into the pool adds to a pleasant, cooling atmosphere.

Swimming pool
It’s important to have some fun and be a little daring with design

Safety was a concern for the owners, who have two young daughters. However, they believe the flush design is actually safer and easier for the children to use. There are handholds on three sides of the pool, where the water drains into the weir. And with the water at deck level, it is easier for children to climb in and out.

Government safety regulations require fencing around all pools and that can often give them a sense of isolation. Malcolm’s design offered an innovative solution.

“We created strong, structural red planters and used open pool fencing in between,” says Malcolm. “The idea was to create a visual connection and blur the edge between the pool and the garden.”

Pool detail and planters

Alternative solution

Ben McMaster, landscape designer for Inside Out Design, suggests this alternative look:

A high-tech contemporary approach would feature stainless steel planter boxes and louvred panels to give a very modern metallic look. Colour could be introduced through purple and silver plants, and walls painted in chocolate tones.

The planters and louvres would form the protective fencing around the pool and would also frame the water feature. Each planter might contain a cordyline purple tower plant, with a single halogen spotlight spiked into the base for dramatic uplighting. A mass of teucrium fruticans could be clipped into a square table at the base of the planters and water feature.

Stainless steel inserts could form a grid in the concrete pool surround and lend individuality to each one-metre square of paving.

Large grassy areas in the garden could be framed by a pleached olive hedge, clipped at 2.4m and underplanted with Australian star scented jasmine.

An silver colour scheme

Alternative solution

Carlos Morgan, director of Morgan Pools, suggests this design alternative:

A sleek, modernist approach lends itself to sharp, elegant lines that could combine a dark pool interior with a very pale limestone surround and lush greenery. The pool would have a wet edge or gutter all around it, so that the water appears to go right into the paving. Pale Portuguese or Spanish limestone in reasonably large tiles would surround it. In keeping with this look, at the deep end, a sheer-descent waterfall coming from a 2-metre slit in a solid wall would create the impression of a shimmering piece of glass.

Frameless glass pool fencing could have a gate that opens to a pathway of big flat slabs of limestone. Steps to the upper section of lawn would be concrete, faced in limestone. The planting would call for modern species, such as palms and succulents, while open grassy areas would be retained to contribute a sense of spaciousness.

A sleek modernist approach

Alternative solution

Paul Leuschke, director of Leuschke Kahn Architects, suggests this design alternative:

Resort-style gardens are popular for their connotations of escape and relaxation, and generally feature strong, natural elements.

The use of timber and stone around the pool would create a natural-feeling environment that could be expanded into the garden. A frameless glass pool fence and extended feature pool wall would help draw the pool and garden areas together, and enhance the feeling of space. A sleek, straight feature wall running the length of the garden would also suit this look. It might be fronted with a mix of lush and tailored resort-style plantings, including clipped screen hedges, bordered lawn areas, and species with dark, dense foliage. Low lighting around the pool and throughout the garden would contribute to an exotic atmosphere.

Resort style gardens


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