This website uses cookies to improve your experience navigating our site. By continuing to browse, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

OK, I understand

A Fresh Courtyard Garden In Paddington With Californian Vibes

Gardens

This project is a lesson in turning a small outdoor space into a fresh and elegant retreat – without the need for a lawn, or traditional flowering plants.

Originally a tired rear courtyard, Garden Life has introduced a textured and climate-appropriate design scheme in this Sydney garden. The result is a low-maintenance yet beautiful garden that mirrors the sophistication of its accompanying 1800s Paddington house, and also brings a touch of sunny Californian vibes!  

21st May, 2020

Garden Life is the studio behind this courtyard makeover in Paddington. Photo – Nicholas Watt

A traditionally hand-thrown terracotta planter imported from Morocco. Photo – Nicholas Watt

Herringbone granite tiles have been installed, replacing the previous terracotta pavers installed 30 years earlier. Photo – Nicholas Watt

Wide boards on the boundary walls complement the house, while creating the feeling of a larger space . Photo – Nicholas Watt

‘Paddington terraces are not huge houses, and the clients wanted to be able to use the outdoor space for entertaining and outdoor dining,’ says designer Richard Unsworth. Photo – Nicholas Watt

The garden is mostly made up of succulents and other drought tolerant plants. Photo – Nicholas Watt

A built-in seating area. Photo – Nicholas Watt

The entire garden sits beneath the property’s exisiting, overhanging frangipani trees. Photo – Nicholas Watt

Amelia Barnes
Thursday 21st May 2020

‘The house interior is white, minimal and pared back, so the garden needed to flow out and reflect this.’ – Richard Unsworth

When designing a garden in a confined space, owner of Garden Life Richard Unsworth says simplicity is key. ‘Don’t over design,’ he says. ‘Keep the variety of finishes to a minimum and make the planting the main attraction.’ 

This philosophy underpins this garden accompanying a late 1800s terrace in Paddington. ‘Paddington terraces are not huge houses, and the clients wanted to be able to use the outdoor space for entertaining and outdoor dining,’ Richard explains. It was his job to update the outdoor space thoughtfully, and create the illusion of more space. 

This project saw nearly all existing elements removed, with fresh timber cladding, render, paintwork, and new herringbone granite tiles replacing terracotta pavers installed 30 years earlier. The addition of contrasting wide boards on the boundary walls complement the house, while providing the feeling of a larger space. ‘The house interior is white, minimal and pared back, so the garden needed to flow out and reflect this, says Richard. Quercus Gardens were responsible for this construction process. 

Combinations of unusual, contrasting succulents and other drought tolerant plants feature in the planting scheme, providing visual interest and colour year-round. All these elements sit beneath the property’s overhanging frangipani trees, which offer gravitas and a sense of maturity.

Richard’s favourite element of the project is the huge terracotta planter that adds a dramatic element to the space. ‘At night we light the space with a simple yet effective scheme that washes over the flooring and steps and makes a feature of the large pot and frangipani tree,’ he says. 

By updating the existing material palette and planting scheme, Garden Life has created the perfect low maintenance garden space that punches way above its size! 

Click play below to view a short video tour of this project! You can see more Garden Life design projects here. 

This Week

Architecture

A Compact + Colourful Extension Of A Fun Family Home

Foomann Architects replaced this Melbourne home's dated extension with a personality-filled renovation, behind a vibrant pink door!
Christina Karras

Homes

A Stylist + Podcaster’s Layered, Textured Seaside Home

Kerrie-Ann Jones’ renovated retro pad in Sydney’s southern beaches is a sun-drenched dream home!

Architecture

A Mindful Multi-Generational Family Home In Clifton Hill

The sculptural Esplanade House by Clare Cousins Architects shows how even the most modern builds can respect their heritage surrounds.
Christina Karras
  13 hours ago

Architecture

The Treasure-Filled Sydney Home Of Two Global Art Collectors

House Gezellig by Studio Prineas reflects their clients’ love for modernist design principles and collection of fine art.

Interiors

A ‘Jarring’ Victorian Home Resolved With Colour, Art, + Joinery

A previously mismatched Victorian home in Mosman, NSW, resolved by Ioanna Lennox Interiors with colour, art, and joinery.
Amelia Barnes
  5 hours ago

Shopping

8 Local Creatives Making Furniture That Doubles As Art

Meet our favourite designers and makers pushing the limits of traditional furniture with their sculptural and striking pieces!
Christina Karras

Creative People

Landscape Studio Ayus Botanical On Creating Calming + Enduring Gardens

The husband-and-wife team of Ayus Botanical share the thoughtful processes behind their lush residential and commercial projects!
Christina Karras

Gardens

A Hawthorn Home Enveloped In Dreamy, Layered Gardens

This new family home is brought to life with lush gardens designed by Peachy Green – reminiscent of a flowering ‘woody meadow’!
Christina Karras

Food

Julia's Irresistible Double Chocolate + Tahini Brownies

Is there anything more irresistible than a brownie? We think not! Especially Julia's, which come with double the chocolate, and a nutty swir...
Julia Busuttil Nishimura

Interiors

A Mediterranean-Inspired Holiday Home Right On The Water’s Edge

CLO Studios styled the interior of this new Noosa home (dubbed Sky Garden) with earthy tones and pieces by local artists.

News

An Unmissable Interior Design Trade Event Returns To Melbourne

Decor + Design will take over the Melbourne Exhibition Centre later this month, with more than 250 brands on show and a line-up of interior
Sponsored

Creative People

Artist and Yindjibarndi Elder Wendy Hubert On Mapping Country + Culture

Our new columnist Jirra Lulla Harvey talks to respected Yindjibarndi Elder, artist, Cultural Custodian and linguist, Wendy Hubert about Coun...
Jirra Lulla Harvey

Architecture

A Colourful Extension Inspired By Clinker Bricks

Wowowa’s Presto House is a vivid and respectful addition to a 1930s art deco home made from 'clinker' bricks.

Studio Visit

Kuku Yalanji Artist Tiarna Herczeg Creates Colourful Maps Of Country

The emerging artist shares how they found their creative voice and intuitive painting style, as their latest solo show opens in Sydney.
Christina Karras

Art

Artist Cressida Campbell Is Finally Getting The Spotlight She Deserves

A new exhibition at the NGA brings together more than 140 works from the artist's life and unique practice.

View Comments

Similar Stories

Gardens

A Tale Of Two Trees In This Lush Inner-City Garden

This verdant inner-city garden is a hotspot of diversity, nestled between two trees: a gnarly, twisted frangipane at the front and a stately...
Sasha Gattermayr

Gardens

A Factory Rooftop Turned Lush Penthouse Garden

SJB director Adam Haddow’s Sydney apartment opens to a stunning rooftop garden, designed by William Dangar of Dangar Barin Smith.
Amelia Barnes

Gardens

A Robust Rooftop Garden In Rozelle

Klaus and Anne Schindhelm share their expansive apartment 'backyard' with spectacular water views!
Georgina Reid

This Week

Architecture

The Treasure-Filled Sydney Home Of Two Global Art Collectors

House Gezellig by Studio Prineas reflects their clients’ love for modernist design principles and collection of fine art.

Art

Artist Cressida Campbell Is Finally Getting The Spotlight She Deserves

A new exhibition at the NGA brings together more than 140 works from the artist's life and unique practice.

Interiors

A Mediterranean-Inspired Holiday Home Right On The Water’s Edge

CLO Studios styled the interior of this new Noosa home (dubbed Sky Garden) with earthy tones and pieces by local artists.

Studio Visit

Kuku Yalanji Artist Tiarna Herczeg Creates Colourful Maps Of Country

The emerging artist shares how they found their creative voice and intuitive painting style, as their latest solo show opens in Sydney.
Christina Karras

Architecture

A Compact + Colourful Extension Of A Fun Family Home

Foomann Architects replaced this Melbourne home's dated extension with a personality-filled renovation, behind a vibrant pink door!
Christina Karras

Gardens

A Hawthorn Home Enveloped In Dreamy, Layered Gardens

This new family home is brought to life with lush gardens designed by Peachy Green – reminiscent of a flowering ‘woody meadow’!
Christina Karras

Architecture

A Mindful Multi-Generational Family Home In Clifton Hill

The sculptural Esplanade House by Clare Cousins Architects shows how even the most modern builds can respect their heritage surrounds.
Christina Karras
  13 hours ago

Creative People

Landscape Studio Ayus Botanical On Creating Calming + Enduring Gardens

The husband-and-wife team of Ayus Botanical share the thoughtful processes behind their lush residential and commercial projects!
Christina Karras

Shopping

8 Local Creatives Making Furniture That Doubles As Art

Meet our favourite designers and makers pushing the limits of traditional furniture with their sculptural and striking pieces!
Christina Karras

Architecture

A Colourful Extension Inspired By Clinker Bricks

Wowowa’s Presto House is a vivid and respectful addition to a 1930s art deco home made from 'clinker' bricks.

Food

Julia's Irresistible Double Chocolate + Tahini Brownies

Is there anything more irresistible than a brownie? We think not! Especially Julia's, which come with double the chocolate, and a nutty swir...
Julia Busuttil Nishimura

Creative People

Artist and Yindjibarndi Elder Wendy Hubert On Mapping Country + Culture

Our new columnist Jirra Lulla Harvey talks to respected Yindjibarndi Elder, artist, Cultural Custodian and linguist, Wendy Hubert about Coun...
Jirra Lulla Harvey

Interiors

A ‘Jarring’ Victorian Home Resolved With Colour, Art, + Joinery

A previously mismatched Victorian home in Mosman, NSW, resolved by Ioanna Lennox Interiors with colour, art, and joinery.
Amelia Barnes
  5 hours ago

News

An Unmissable Interior Design Trade Event Returns To Melbourne

Decor + Design will take over the Melbourne Exhibition Centre later this month, with more than 250 brands on show and a line-up of interior
Sponsored

Homes

A Stylist + Podcaster’s Layered, Textured Seaside Home

Kerrie-Ann Jones’ renovated retro pad in Sydney’s southern beaches is a sun-drenched dream home!

Similar Stories

Gardens

A Tale Of Two Trees In This Lush Inner-City Garden

This verdant inner-city garden is a hotspot of diversity, nestled where you’d least expect it!
Sasha Gattermayr

Gardens

A Factory Rooftop Turned Lush Penthouse Garden

SJB director Adam Haddow’s stunning rooftop garden, designed by William Dangar of Dangar Barin Smith.
Amelia Barnes

Gardens

A Robust Rooftop Garden In Rozelle

Klaus and Anne Schindhelm share their expansive apartment 'backyard' with spectacular water views!
Georgina Reid

The Design Files acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers, and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files. Please email bea@thedesignfiles.net