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 Beautiful New Life For A Generous Family Garden

Gardens

The suburb of Haberfield in inner-west Sydney is a traditionally working class neighbourhood, though its proximity to the CBD has accelerated its gentrification in recent years. When Christopher Owen of Fieldwork was engaged to complete this garden in the suburb, he was torn on how to balance his love for the nostalgic, characterful space that had been in the previous owner’s family for decades, with his client’s brief for a contemporary garden.

He settled on a design that respected the garden’s legacy as a family space, by creating a new site ripe for the next generation of memories to take place. And it’s gorgeous!

11th October, 2021

The house in Haberfield has been renovated by Sam Crawford Architects, who left space for a courtyard in the middle of the communal areas so that the kitchen and lounge could be flanked by greenery on two sides. Photo – Jessie Ann Harris.

Pavers, greenery and magenta foliage characterise this abundant pocket at the heart of the home. Photo – Jessie Ann Harris.

Sliding doors open the lounge and kitchen to the central courtyard. Photo – Jessie Ann Harris.

The corten steel pond is a Japanese-inspired feature. Photo – Jessie Ann Harris.

A passive passage garden runs the length of the house, allowing access from the front of the house to the rear. Photo – Jessie Ann Harris.

Acanthus mollis edges the pavestone path. Photo – Jessie Ann Harris.

In the back garden, the planting palette is limited to the perimeter. Its job is to conceal the fence from view and wrap the lawn and pool in a lush green embrace. Photo – Jessie Ann Harris.

There are so many layers and textures to this garden! Photo – Jessie Ann Harris.

A deep pocket is complemented by a concrete bench. Photo – Jessie Ann Harris.

Standing on the rear lawn looking at the pool there is borrowed landscape from the neighbour’s garden beyond. Plus a massive palm tree! Photo – Jessie Ann Harris.

This could be a completely different garden! Photo – Jessie Ann Harris.

Ferns and grasses create texture and excitement along the pool’s edge, concealing the fenceline. Photo – Jessie Ann Harris.

A terrace overlooks the pool and pool house at the very bottom of the property. Photo – Jessie Ann Harris.

Chris calls the side passage a ‘passive garden’. Photo – Jessie Ann Harris.

A curved concrete bench signals the end of the lawn. Photo – Jessie Ann Harris.

Peeking down the passage garden is like looking into a secret garden. Photo – Jessie Ann Harris.

When walking down the side garden you can glimpse the expanse of lawn beyond. Photo – Jessie Ann Harris.

The passage garden conceals the side entry from view. Photo – Jessie Ann Harris.

A curved concrete and timber batten vestibule envelopes the second entrance. Photo – Jessie Ann Harris.

The house is set far back from the street, meaning the front garden was ripe to become a ‘horticultural riot’. Photo – Jessie Ann Harris.

Echinacea in the front garden. Photo – Jessie Ann Harris.

Ferns, grasses and low-lying greenery create a layered, textured garden that is a feast for passersby. Photo – Jessie Ann Harris.

The street contained crepe myrtles but there were none in the front garden when Christopher took over the project. He planted some immediately in order to create some dialogue with the local character. Photo – Jessie Ann Harris.

Bursts of colour create a sense of lavishness and tropical texture. Photo – Jessie Ann Harris.

The front garden is generous and welcoming to the street, while the rear is private and more functional. Photo – Jessie Ann Harris.

Sasha Gattermayr
Monday 11th October 2021

‘I wanted to talk to the heritage elements of Haberfield as a suburb, the cultural legacy, and lean into the nostalgia I had felt on my first visit.’ – Christopher Owen

‘When our clients invited me to see the property they had purchased it was evident that the previous family had loved and lived in this home for a long time,’ explains landscape designer, Christopher Owen of Fieldwork. ‘Perfect roses in the front garden, perfect lawns, fruit trees, a giant old pizza oven and a vegetable garden larger than a swimming pool. It was a time capsule, and it was difficult for me to stand there and know that all of it would change.’

Rather than totally reinventing the space, Christopher decided to interpret the garden based on these first impressions.

‘My clients have a young family and what I saw was history repeating,’ he says. ‘I wanted to talk to the heritage elements of Haberfield as a suburb, the cultural legacy, and lean into the nostalgia I had felt on my first visit, but also embrace the fact that a young 21st century family were going to live here.’

The site was very deep, meaning there were multiple opportunities for landscaping in and around the house. Christopher envisioned the front garden as ‘a conversation with the street and the community’, so he planted three crepe myrtle trees to mirror those planted along the street. Grasses, lowlying greenery, towering acanthus mollis and soft purple perennials create a cushiony and textured lower layer.

A passage along the side of the house became a passive garden leading to the side entry. While Christopher characterises the abundant front garden as ‘a horticultural riot’, pavers and trees guard this subtle entry to the residence from the main street view.

Once inside, a internal courtyard sits amongst the communal areas of the house (renovated by Sam Crawford Architects). A sweeping curved concrete wall (by landscaper Rhys Smith) frames the calm space, which is filled with a cortex steel pond, stone steppers and large trees. This section is a soft, delightful pocket of the garden – still packed with plantings but secluded and more private than its front counterpart.

The passage garden continues along the side of the house to the backyard, sustaining the same continuous palette throughout. In this rear section of the garden the plantings remain along the perimeter of the fence, wrapping the lawn and pool in a leafy embrace.

For such a vast, multi-functional and decorative space, there must be a mixture of influences. A few touches of Japanese design principles are mixed in with the philosophies of designers Wolfgang Oehme and James Van Sweden, who encouraged the replacement of lawns with ornamental grasses and perennials underpin the structural design.

But most of all, Christopher’s vision for this garden was intuitive. ‘I wanted it to be clothed in plant life and have a feeling of abundance,’ he says.

That he has achieved with splendour!

See here for more projects by Fieldwork.

This Week

On The Market

The Perfect Architect-Designed Family Home Is On The Market

The Kingsville House by Olaver Architecture is potentially the closest thing there is to a perfect family house. And it could be yours!
Sasha Aarons

Stays

A Contemporary Reimagining of Robin Boyd’s Fenner House

Las Palmas by DUO Architects in association with Davis Architects is a Byron Bay hinterland home inspired by the owner's upbringing in Robin...

Creative People

The Earthy, Abstract Art Of Asha Holmes

Inside the textured, tonal and intuitive practice of a Northern Beaches-based painter whose star is well and truly on the rise!

On The Market

An Iconic Melbourne Art Family’s Richmond Home Is For Sale

The family of beloved artist Mirka Mora are selling their contemporary, multi-level home, featuring a pool-with-a-view!

Studio Visit

This Cheerful New Textile + Homewares Label Brings The Sunshine We Need Right now!

Hannah Veikkanen used Melbourne's extended lockdowns to develop and launch her own textile label, creating handtufted cushions and artwork f...

Studio Visit

P0LY Designs : The Ultimate Pandemic Pivot Project

How Lara Fisher and Andy Kepitis turned their lockdown hobby into full-time business!

Shopping

Nau Releases 2021 Australian-Made Furniture Collection

Cult’s in-house Australian-made furniture and lighting brand, Nau, releases it 2021 collection designed by Adam Goodrum, Kate Stokes, Adam...
Amelia Barnes
  4 hours ago

Homes

A Photographer + Art Director’s Alistair Knox Home

Photographer Sean Fennessy, and art director Jessica Lillico's heart-warming Warrandyte mid-century family home, designed by Alistair Knox!
Lucy Feagins
  12 hours ago

Homes

Poppy Garbin + Scott Gibson Of Pop And Scott’s Dromana Dream Home

The renovated '80s home of Scott Gibson and Poppy Garbin, founders of Pop and Scott.
44:00

Podcast

The Unconventional Career Path Of Interior Designer Yasmine Ghoniem Of YSG Studio, On TDF Talks

In this podcast conversation, host Lucy Feagins talks to the founder of YSG Studio and so-hot-right-now visionary leading the Australian int...

Shopping

An Epic Collaboration Between Two Local Icons, David Bromley + Review!

David Bromley collaborates with much loved local fashion label Review on a colourful new collection of apparel and accessories.

Creative People

Building A Family Legacy On Local Manufacturing, With Abode Living

Creative director Amelia Marasco Adair takes us on a tour of the company's Camberwell HQ - featuring their production warehouse, offices +

News

A Glamorous New Range Of Matte + Metallic Mixers

New additions to Phoenix Tapware’s popular Designer Sink Mixers collection will complement every element in your home.
Sponsored

Building Better

Everything You Need To Know About Working With A Builder

Where do you find a good builder? How long will it take them to build my house? How much will it cost? We answer these FAQs more.

Architecture

A Remarkable Reworking Of A Humble Gold Coast Shack

ME Architects have extraordinarily reworked and extended this humble 1970s Gold Coast home.

View Comments

Similar Stories

Gardens

A Modernist Front Garden On Sydney’s North Shore

In an extract from his new book 'The City Gardener', Richard Unsworth shares the Mid-Century Modern garden designed by his practice, Garden
Richard Unsworth

Gardens

A Serendipitous Garden From Two Lifetime Gardeners

John and Jenny Shaw have been tending to this magical garden in Woodend for 50 years - even adding a 'verge garden' for the local community!...

Gardens

A Mediterranean Oasis In The Middle Of Sydney

With a tropical courtyard and sandstone cabana cave, landscape designer Antony Wyer’s own incredible garden is like a personal Greek islan...

This Week

Homes

A Photographer + Art Director’s Alistair Knox Home

Photographer Sean Fennessy, and art director Jessica Lillico's heart-warming Warrandyte mid-century family home, designed by Alistair Knox!
Lucy Feagins
  12 hours ago

Studio Visit

P0LY Designs : The Ultimate Pandemic Pivot Project

How Lara Fisher and Andy Kepitis turned their lockdown hobby into full-time business!

Creative People

Building A Family Legacy On Local Manufacturing, With Abode Living

Creative director Amelia Marasco Adair takes us on a tour of the company's Camberwell HQ - featuring their production warehouse, offices +

Architecture

A Remarkable Reworking Of A Humble Gold Coast Shack

ME Architects have extraordinarily reworked and extended this humble 1970s Gold Coast home.

Shopping

Nau Releases 2021 Australian-Made Furniture Collection

Cult’s in-house Australian-made furniture and lighting brand, Nau, releases it 2021 collection designed by Adam Goodrum, Kate Stokes, Adam...
Amelia Barnes
  4 hours ago

News

A Glamorous New Range Of Matte + Metallic Mixers

New additions to Phoenix Tapware’s popular Designer Sink Mixers collection will complement every element in your home.
Sponsored

Homes

Poppy Garbin + Scott Gibson Of Pop And Scott’s Dromana Dream Home

The renovated '80s home of Scott Gibson and Poppy Garbin, founders of Pop and Scott.

Creative People

The Earthy, Abstract Art Of Asha Holmes

Inside the textured, tonal and intuitive practice of a Northern Beaches-based painter whose star is well and truly on the rise!

On The Market

An Iconic Melbourne Art Family’s Richmond Home Is For Sale

The family of beloved artist Mirka Mora are selling their contemporary, multi-level home, featuring a pool-with-a-view!

Studio Visit

This Cheerful New Textile + Homewares Label Brings The Sunshine We Need Right now!

Hannah Veikkanen used Melbourne's extended lockdowns to develop and launch her own textile label, creating handtufted cushions and artwork f...

Shopping

An Epic Collaboration Between Two Local Icons, David Bromley + Review!

David Bromley collaborates with much loved local fashion label Review on a colourful new collection of apparel and accessories.

On The Market

The Perfect Architect-Designed Family Home Is On The Market

The Kingsville House by Olaver Architecture is potentially the closest thing there is to a perfect family house. And it could be yours!
Sasha Aarons

Building Better

Everything You Need To Know About Working With A Builder

Where do you find a good builder? How long will it take them to build my house? How much will it cost? We answer these FAQs more.
44:00

Podcast

The Unconventional Career Path Of Interior Designer Yasmine Ghoniem Of YSG Studio, On TDF Talks

In this podcast conversation, host Lucy Feagins talks to the founder of YSG Studio and so-hot-right-now visionary leading the Australian int...

Stays

A Contemporary Reimagining of Robin Boyd’s Fenner House

Las Palmas by DUO Architects in association with Davis Architects is a Byron Bay hinterland home inspired by the owner's upbringing in Robin...

Similar Stories

Gardens

A Modernist Front Garden On Sydney’s North Shore

In an extract from his new book 'The City Gardener', Richard Unsworth shares this mid-century modern inspired garden in Castle Cove.
Richard Unsworth

Gardens

A Serendipitous Garden From Two Lifetime Gardeners

John and Jenny Shaw have been tending to this magical garden in Woodend for 50 years.

Gardens

A Mediterranean Oasis In The Middle Of Sydney

With a tropical courtyard and sandstone cabana cave, landscape designer Antony Wyer’s own incredible garden is like a personal Greek islan...

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 – we would love to hear from you.

Please email us here.