The Best of Outdoor Living

As we rapidly approach festive season (when did that happen!?) and warmer weather, this time of year always means spending more time outside.

Whether it’s long, lazy dinners on warm nights, or just a low-key family barbecue on the weekend, it’s a great time to refresh your outdoor space, and create the perfect environment for hanging out over summer.

Today, we take a look back at some of our favourite outdoor areas, and offer a few tips to consider in your own space.

Lucy Feagins

The façade of the Provan’s Mount Martha beach shack. Jeff has added awnings and pergolas to the existing site. The garden was designed in collaboration with Mud Design and Mowed in Australia. Photo – Eve Wilson. Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

The lush rooftop balcony of Owen Harris‘ Fitzroy home. North East corner of the balcony. To the left, Ficus longifolia ‘Ali’, and in the far corner, Cussonia spicata (tall tree with trunk). Outdoor dining setting by TAIT.  Photo – Annette O’Brien for The Design Files.

The back garden in the Prahran home of Fiona Richardson and her family.  Butterfly chairs from Angelucci Twentieth Century, ‘Jil’ side table from Tait. Photo – Sean Fennessy.

Paul Bangay’s stunning house and grounds in country Victoria. The property and garden surrounds at Stonefields. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

Inside fashion designer turned garden designer Ian McMaugh’s courtyard garden in Redfern. The orange tree in the centre of the garden provides both fruit, sun protection, privacy and MORE space for growing plants! Photo – Daniel Shipp. Production – Lucy Feagins/The Design Files and Georgina Reid/The Planthunter.

Paul Bangay’s country Victoria property, Stonefields. Various alcoves and contained spaces make up the larger scale garden and property at Stonefields. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

The remarkable St Kilda home of Sandra Powell and Andrew King. Outdoor dining area – eyes by artist Rone. Photo – Eve Wilson. Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Eddie Kaul and Richa Pant’s outdoor terrace in their Carlton home.  Photo – Eve Wilson.

Formerly belonging to renowned landscape designer, Edna Walling, Jen Vardy and family are now the custodians of this paradise in Melbourne’s Northern suburbs. The barn started life as a stable and garage, before being transformed into a home.  Photo – Annette O’Brien  for The Design Files.

Tim Ross and Michelle Glew-Ross’ Sydney home. The pool was here when Tim moved in, but the landscaping, paving and pool fence was added by Tim and Michelle after much consideration – in the end they chose to go with a frameless glass fence. The amazing yellow pool umbrellas were sourced by Michelle online and brought all the way back from LA in their boxes by Tim after taking his comedy show, ‘Man about the House’ to the US last year.  Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

The outdoor setting of Matt and Carly Skinner’s mid-century Beaumaris home. Photo – Annette O’Brien.

The Westgarth Home of Bella Stagoll and family, designed by Melbourne architects Kennedy Nolan. North garden elevation, including fully retractable glass doors (they slide into a cavity to the right), bird’s beak steel fascia, and ghostly super graphic and circular moon gate linking the new entry courtyard. Photo – Annette O’Brien.


With longer evenings upon us, and holiday time fast approaching, it’s a great time to give your outdoor space a little spruce up.

With a little forward planning, outdoor living and dining spaces really do have the capacity to function as an additional room, all summer long.  Here are a few simple ideas for maximising your outdoor space.

1. Vary up your seating options. It’s common to see a standard dining setting in outdoor spaces, but for a less formal approach, consider a cluster of lower, lounge style seating (we love canvas butterfly chairs, available from Angelucci 20th Century).  When hosting a garden gathering, flexibility is key – lightweight seats and versatile stools can be really handy to have on hand.

2. Get comfy. Weatherproof outdoor upholstery fabrics have improved in recent years, allowing for truly plush, comfy outdoor lounge seating that really stands up to the elements! We like Tait’s new ‘Trace’ outdoor furniture collection, designed by Adam Goodrum – it barely looks like outdoor furniture.

3. Throw some shade. Shade is always a necessity in the Australian summertime – aside from the usual market umbrellas (we love Basil Bangs offerings) consider a retractable shade, as seen at the Mount Martha beach shack of Jeff and Mariko Provan. Camoflage netting, available from army surplus stores, is another great idea seen in this home, offering partial shade / dappled light over the outdoor dining area.

4. Fire up. A fire pit can be a great centrepiece, and makes your outdoor space an enticing space even in the colder months. We love the example in Carly and Matt Skinner’s iconic mid century home – the artfully arranged stack of firewood makes a beautiful feature, too!

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