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 Productive Acreage Turned Residential Swimming Hole!

Gardens

For an inland property situated 25 kilometres north of Sydney, this magical garden could easily be mistaken for somewhere in the tropics. Matt Leacy of Landart is the brains behind this transformation of a steep and rocky block into a luscious residential garden.

Through a mix of native and tropical plantings, a converted dam pool, and some massive excavation works to wrangle the sloping site, Matt has delivered the very definition of an oasis.

14th December, 2020

Before it was a tropical-style lagoon, this rolling acreage in Terrey Hills was a productive garden with an unfriendly layout. Photo – Jason Busch. Stylist – Adam Robinson.

Matt Leacey of Landart was brought in to reorganise the topology, conducting excavations to level out the surfaces and wrapping the swimming hole in timber decking. Photo – Jason Busch. Stylist – Adam Robinson.

The enormous pool is staggered, with a rockpool situated higher up the hill and overlooking the enormous swimming hole. Photo – Jason Busch. Stylist – Adam Robinson.

Natural boulders and native grasses line the pool, integrating the man-made scape with the bushy surrounds beyond. Photo – Jason Busch. Stylist – Adam Robinson.

The jetty protrudes 7-8 metres out in the centre of the pool. Photo – Jason Busch. Stylist – Adam Robinson.

The previous garden cut off connection to the rear boundary line. By wrapping the pool in decking, Matt was able to create sitting and dining spaces at all points in the landscape and restore the site to a holistic purpose. Photo – Jason Busch. Stylist – Adam Robinson.

A mix of native and exotic plantings round out the hotel-at-home vibe! Photo – Jason Busch. Stylist – Adam Robinson.

Sasha Gattermayr
Monday 14th December 2020

With its illuminated boardwalks, tremendous natural boulders, and enormous glittering swimming hole, you’d be forgiven for thinking this garden belonged to a hotel! In fact, this tropical oasis actually accompanies a family home in Terrey Hills, an inland suburb of Sydney’s Northern Beaches. The owners engaged landscape designer Matt Leacy of Landart to reimagine this productive acreage (where horses previously roamed!) as a luscious family retreat.

‘It was one of those projects where, once I had heard the brief, I knew exactly what I wanted to do,’ says Matt. ‘I was very lucky that the client was adventurous and keen to explore the property’s potential.’

The first task was to open up the configuration of the tricky site. The existing layout blocked entry to the rear boundary, and separated the property from surrounding bushy native outlook. ‘We cleared an area behind the pool, and created a dining and seating area, and then built a series of bridges and boardwalk to enable direct access to it,’ explains Matt. The new, integrated seating sections allow for engagement with the enormous body of water even without swimming in it – making it a central focus point of the space.

In order to achieve this perfectly organic arrangement, significant excavation works were required to soften the terrain from a steep escarpment to a gentle, rolling meander. Hardwood timber decking wraps the pool to allow for easy navigation of the undulating landscape, while a cantilevered boardwalk extends over the water like a jetty, protruding 7-8 metres into the centre of the pool. The pool itself is staggered, with a raised sandstone rock pool overlooking the sprawling swimming hole below.

The existing plantings surrounding the house were overwhelmingly exotic, a stark contrast to the neighbouring bushland. Matt’s team set out to integrate the palette properly, introducing native grasses closer to the house in order to transition gently from delicate tropicals to a more robust Australian landscape.

‘I really believe that you can have an amazing space but if the flow is not there then it still doesn’t work as well as it could,’ concludes Matt. ‘We changed the flow, we improved the way the owner can engage and use the outdoor space (especially the pool), and we brought the area beyond the pool into play that had been previously a bit of a dead zone.’ This heavenly garden certainly encourages you to go with the flow!

Loving this project as much as we did? See more by Landart here.

This Week

Architecture

A Brazilian-Inspired Update Of A 1920s Brisbane Cottage

Bowen by Shaun Lockyer Architects elevates a 1920s cottage with a stunning renovation and addition.

Creative People

How Powerhouse Designer, Yuwaalaraay Woman Lucy Simpson Is Making Waves

How the Sydney based designer weaves stories of Country and culture into her collaborations with leading brands, such as JAG and Breville.
Jirra Lulla Harvey

Interiors

An Off-Grid, Modern Country Farmhouse In Regional Victoria

Step inside a newly built farmhouse that's fully off the grid, with all the classic features of an old country home.
Christina Karras

Art

10 Emerging, Affordable Artists You Need To Have On Your Watchlist!

From ethereal still lifes to striking ceramic work, and meticulous soft pastel drawings, these are the artists to start collecting now!

Homes

An Owner-Designed Renovation Of A 1970s South Yarra Apartment

How designers Lola Digby-Diercks and Sebastian Owen completely transformed their South Yarra apartment in just six months.

Studio Visit

Dani McKenzie’s Detailed Paintings Look Like Familiar Photographs

The Melbourne artist recreates local streetscapes and everyday scenes, filled with intimate reminders of our own inner-worlds.
Christina Karras

Design Eye

How to Create Fun + Playful Interiors, With Studio Joy’s Kristel Marshall

The Melbourne designer shares how to balance minimalism and maximalism with playful colours and bold furniture – in a way that won't date!...
Christina Karras

Interiors

Before + After: A Dated Brick Home Turned Coastal Holiday Pad

Dark timber and dated tiles have been replaced with light and bright interiors in this Mornington Peninsula beach house.
Christina Karras

Homes

A Cosy Retro Rental In Melbourne’s North West

Dog lovers Michelle Campbell and Katy Louise share their warm and welcoming rented home in Maidstone.

Sustainable Homes

How An Architect Turned This 1930s Bungalow Into A Sustainable Family Haven

Architect Emily Sandstrom's warm family home runs off solar power, with a vegetable garden and impressive entertaining area hidden inside!
Christina Karras

Family

Journalist Nas Campanella On Parenting With Blindness + Building Disability Awareness

How ABC journalist Nas Campanella navigates motherhood as a person living with blindness and Charcot-Marie-Tooth.

Art

9 Unmissable Exhibitions To See In 2023!

From NGV's Alexander McQueen exhibition, to a showcase of Frida Kahlo's works, here are the must-see exhibitions of the coming year.
Christina Karras

On The Market

A Rare Robin Boyd House Is Available To Rent

You could be the next tenant of this house, designed by Australia's most famous architect.

Creative People

A Noosa Design Studio's Chic New Office, Inside A Former 80s Club

CLO Studios' have transformed an old music club into their dreamy new office space, and it's filled with eclectic design inspiration!
Christina Karras

Shopping

Shop The Chunky, Colourful Furniture You’ve Seen All Over The Internet

Meet the tradie brothers behind FEARON, who have been making quirky, must-have furniture that blends fun with functionality!
Christina Karras

Similar Stories

Gardens

A Landscape Designer's Own Sumptuous Green Wonderland

Sam Crawford has been tending to her symphonic garden in the Macedon shire for the last 8 years. Step inside her paradise!
Sasha Gattermayr

Gardens

A Luscious Inner Suburban Garden With An Enormous Ethereal Lagoon (In Northcote!)

Sam Cox Landscape transcends time and place with his designs for a harmonious green extension (and a jaw-dropping poo!l) to this rolling inn...
Sasha Gattermayr

Gardens

A Miraculous Floating Garden + Pool in Brisbane

A contemporary, low-maintenance interpretation of the Australian suburban dream!
Sasha Gattermayr

This Week

Creative People

A Noosa Design Studio's Chic New Office, Inside A Former 80s Club

CLO Studios' have transformed an old music club into their dreamy new office space, and it's filled with eclectic design inspiration!
Christina Karras

Creative People

How Powerhouse Designer, Yuwaalaraay Woman Lucy Simpson Is Making Waves

How the Sydney based designer weaves stories of Country and culture into her collaborations with leading brands, such as JAG and Breville.
Jirra Lulla Harvey

Homes

A Cosy Retro Rental In Melbourne’s North West

Dog lovers Michelle Campbell and Katy Louise share their warm and welcoming rented home in Maidstone.

Shopping

Shop The Chunky, Colourful Furniture You’ve Seen All Over The Internet

Meet the tradie brothers behind FEARON, who have been making quirky, must-have furniture that blends fun with functionality!
Christina Karras

On The Market

A Rare Robin Boyd House Is Available To Rent

You could be the next tenant of this house, designed by Australia's most famous architect.

Family

Journalist Nas Campanella On Parenting With Blindness + Building Disability Awareness

How ABC journalist Nas Campanella navigates motherhood as a person living with blindness and Charcot-Marie-Tooth.

Design Eye

How to Create Fun + Playful Interiors, With Studio Joy’s Kristel Marshall

The Melbourne designer shares how to balance minimalism and maximalism with playful colours and bold furniture – in a way that won't date!...
Christina Karras

Studio Visit

Dani McKenzie’s Detailed Paintings Look Like Familiar Photographs

The Melbourne artist recreates local streetscapes and everyday scenes, filled with intimate reminders of our own inner-worlds.
Christina Karras

Architecture

A Brazilian-Inspired Update Of A 1920s Brisbane Cottage

Bowen by Shaun Lockyer Architects elevates a 1920s cottage with a stunning renovation and addition.

Art

9 Unmissable Exhibitions To See In 2023!

From NGV's Alexander McQueen exhibition, to a showcase of Frida Kahlo's works, here are the must-see exhibitions of the coming year.
Christina Karras

Art

10 Emerging, Affordable Artists You Need To Have On Your Watchlist!

From ethereal still lifes to striking ceramic work, and meticulous soft pastel drawings, these are the artists to start collecting now!

Sustainable Homes

How An Architect Turned This 1930s Bungalow Into A Sustainable Family Haven

Architect Emily Sandstrom's warm family home runs off solar power, with a vegetable garden and impressive entertaining area hidden inside!
Christina Karras

Interiors

An Off-Grid, Modern Country Farmhouse In Regional Victoria

Step inside a newly built farmhouse that's fully off the grid, with all the classic features of an old country home.
Christina Karras

Interiors

Before + After: A Dated Brick Home Turned Coastal Holiday Pad

Dark timber and dated tiles have been replaced with light and bright interiors in this Mornington Peninsula beach house.
Christina Karras

Homes

An Owner-Designed Renovation Of A 1970s South Yarra Apartment

How designers Lola Digby-Diercks and Sebastian Owen completely transformed their South Yarra apartment in just six months.

Similar Stories

Gardens

A Landscape Designer's Own Sumptuous Green Wonderland

Sam Crawford has been tending to her symphonic garden in the Macedon shire for the last 8 years.
Sasha Gattermayr

Gardens

A Luscious Inner Suburban Garden With An Enormous Ethereal Lagoon (In Northcote!)

Sam Cox Landscape creates a harmonious green addition (and a jaw-dropping poo!l) to this rolling inner suburban block.
Sasha Gattermayr

Gardens

A Miraculous Floating Garden + Pool in Brisbane

A contemporary, low-maintenance interpretation of the Australian suburban dream!
Sasha Gattermayr

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