Surry HillsTraditional Landscape, Sydney
The brief: Turn a typical inner city terrace
backyard in to a French Courtyard to
provide extra living space.
The owner of this property in Sydney’s
Surry Hills had a typical small pokey east
facing backyard which backed up onto
a large block wall. Knowing space was at
a premium and needing to expand this
small house’s living space, I came up with
an innovative design to maximise the
The original space was about 7 sqm with
an outdoor laundry and old toilet. Interior
designer Jonathan Clarke of Urban Interior
Design had come up with a clever design
that enabled the kitchen space to open out
to an alfresco dining area. The ultimate
aim of this space was to seamlessly
integrate the indoor and outdoor flow and
to make a small outdoor area feel like an
open extra living green space.
The back area of the house was
demolished and reconfigured to use the
existing side return as an extra kitchen
dining space. This increased the outdoor
area to be around 25 sqm. This needed
to become a light and bright area - and
with walls on all sides, this also needed to
reflect a feeling of light and space which is
much needed in the inner city.
Large sized white coloured concrete
pavers were used to give a feeling of space.
They were laid on a bed of river sand to
allow for drainage when it rained and stop
the paved area becoming a pond. Mature
Ficus cones were used to give the feeling
that the garden had been established for a
long time and two old 19th century French
doors were mirrored and mounted on the
large back wall thus reflecting the garden
and giving a feeling of space and grand
A French Urn was used with a Gardenia
standard and under planted with annuals.
White painted hardy plank walls and
wooden trellis were used on the sides to
give an impression of ‘French country’.
Overall the feeling of the space made the
courtyard feel grand as well as spacious
and made a dark underused space an
integral part of the house and created a
much needed extra entertaining space.
What Houzz contributors are saying:
10. Topiary. There is something so chic about topiaries. One or two can elevate the most basic space into something truly special. And if you have a patio or porch that does not get enough sun for a real plant, try the new fake topiaries — many of them are so gorgeous, no one would ever know the difference!Tell us: What spells elegance to you?See more photos of topiaries
By enclosing small outdoor spaces adjacent to our homes, we really can create outdoor rooms — even without ceilings. These have the same benefit as a sanctuary but also give us a place where we can socialize, work and relax. Even a small space, such as this 7-square-meter yard (about 7 1/2 by 10 feet), can add much to the owner's lifestyle.
Simple French-inspired design, along with strategically placed mirrors, helps open up an even smaller space. Again, a simple color palette and low-key furniture combined with the formal plant shapes and less-is-more approach exemplifies French design.