Top Tier

Top Tier

Last Updated: 30 Mar 2015
Jessica Rule

A renovation to this spacious garden offers much to enjoy, using curved steps to tackle problematic level changes.

The full renovation of this stately East Fremantle home included an award-winning overhaul of its garden by Outside In. Company owner Denise Staffa, along with her client, sought to instil a Hamptons-style aesthetic.

"It was tiered, with spaces not being used due to levels and slopes," says Denise. "The views are to die for, and the outdoor areas were not taking advantage of this."

Denise designed the exterior and managed the project with her professional team of contractors, including LD Total, which oversaw the majority of the hardscaping and softscaping elements.

"The design needed to reflect the Hamptons-inspired interior, and the clients wanted practical use of space and flow from the inside," says Denise. "As the spaces were so large, I needed the design to tick all their boxes without blowing the budget."

A concrete ball-in-a-bowl water feature is just one of the instances of spheres that act as a motif in the garden design.

She provided a multitude of opportunities for the owners – a family with teenagers – to enjoy the property, whether as a clan or entertaining in smaller groups. A variety of seating nooks, entertaining spaces and moments of artistic flair are at play around the large site.

The various nooks make the most of the harbour views. "The clients' son and his mates have been getting a lot of use out of the curved seat overlooking the tennis court and the view, of course," Denise says. "The daybed is the owners' little retreat."

A custom architectural screen by Outside In was originally earmarked for all the balustrade works inside the residence. "The clients decided on something else, so instead I proposed taking a part of the pattern outside and turning it into a piece of wall art," Denise says. "We all love it!"

Denise has softened the clean lines of the Hamptons aesthetic with spherical shapes. A white sphere in a bowl makes an eye-catching water feature, and faux concrete ball sculptures are peppered around the garden.

To create ambience, moveable LED balls have been positioned around the pool. Each has a remote to alter the colours according to mood, and they are able to float in the pool.

Moveable LED balls in the pool area can change colour to enhance mood, and can be floated on the water.

The alfresco entertaining area was stepped up a notch, with Denise recycling some of the elements already in place for the functional outdoor kitchen. "The existing barbecue and rangehood were re-used and I designed [the] new unit around this," she says.

Granite splashbacks add interest and texture to the space, and the alfresco furniture was sourced from Outside In. "Kimberley Tan from Studio Atelier assisted the client with finishing touches, such as cushions and outdoor rugs, and she did a fabulous job," says Denise.

The biggest challenge was the varying levels on the block, particularly the front lawn. To overcome this, Denise employed tiered, curved steps leading up to a daybed overlooking the ocean.

To create a seamless connection between the interiors and exteriors, Denise selected sympathetic paving – Coral Stone from Bonita Stone – to transition from the travertine tiles inside.

"I absolutely love this paving, it has so many interesting features imbedded into the stone, like mother of pearl and shells, so it certainly makes conversation, and suits the theme and location of the property," she says.

A pattern originally designed for a custom screen is repurposed as wall art.

The pool's original coping was also changed to match the selected paving,
and a grey deck by Screenstyle WA blends with the palette. "It is very 'Melbourne', however it is very difficult to maintain such weathered-looking decking here in Perth due to our harsh climate and the waterfront location of this particular property," Denise says. "We used decking stain to achieve longevity and the overall effect."

Plant selection was based on a green-and-white Hamptons theme,
and includes "subtle hedging, softgreys, soft foliage and a splash of colour," explains Denise.

The project received a Landscape Industry Association (LIAWA) 2014 Awards of Excellence gong for Designer Residential over 500sqm, but the sense of achievement at a harmonious result, and the happiness of the client are the real rewards for Denise.

"I would describe the space as simply elegant," says Denise. "Everything is in
its place, it's comfortable and functional and personally designed around the
clients and their needs."


Denise Staffa of Outside In points out the highlights of the renovation.

What was different about this project?
This was an extensive renovation. It's an advantage to have the designer project-managing construction, because I had the vision as well as years of construction experience. The owners were very open to all ideas, and I feel very blessed to have such wonderful clients.

What makes it special?
Everything really… I've visited a couple of times since the completion of the project and it all just seems right. I've enjoyed sitting in the alfresco with the client with nibbles and champagne, and felt it reached all expectations. I actually felt a little overwhelmed by how wonderful it was to sit in such a lovely space.


Outside In (08) 9450 4922, (design and project management)
Bonita Stone (08) 9404 7333, (paving)
LD Total (08) 6436 1111, (hardscape and softscape elements)
Screenstyle WA 1300 768 684, (decking and timber seats)
Studio Atelier 0403 424 544, (interior design and finishing touches).

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