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

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!

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.

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

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

A Day In The Life

A Day In The Life Of Costume + Production Designer, Catherine Martin

The four-time Oscar winning designer shares insights from her career working alongside husband Baz Luhrmann, and how she helped bring 'Elvis...
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.

Interiors

A Green New Addition For An Ageing Edwardian Home

Brave New Eco revitalises an existing Brunswick home for multiple generations with a new extension, natural material palette and clever use

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

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

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

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

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.

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.
Sasha Gattermayr
  19 hours ago

Studio Visit

Kelly Thompson’s Playful Preston Showroom Clashes Colour In The Best Way

The clever creative behind online store, Makers’ Mrkt, gives us an inside look at her fun Preston stockroom-turned-store!
Christina Karras

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

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

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.

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

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.

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

Studio Visit

Kelly Thompson’s Playful Preston Showroom Clashes Colour In The Best Way

The clever creative behind online store, Makers’ Mrkt, gives us an inside look at her fun Preston stockroom-turned-store!
Christina Karras

Interiors

A Green New Addition For An Ageing Edwardian Home

Brave New Eco revitalises an existing Brunswick home for multiple generations with a new extension, natural material palette and clever use

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.

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 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

A Day In The Life

A Day In The Life Of Costume + Production Designer, Catherine Martin

The four-time Oscar winning designer shares insights from her career working alongside husband Baz Luhrmann, and how she helped bring 'Elvis...
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 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.
Sasha Gattermayr
  19 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

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. Please email bea@thedesignfiles.net