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Friday, June 21, 2024

Paula Kilpatrick and Antony Elliott – The Design Files | Australia's most popular design blog.

Today’s sweet little weekender in Heathcote is a hidden gem, tucked off the beaten track in Victoria’s picturesque Macedon Ranges region, around 90 minutes from Melbourne.  Affectionately known as ‘Tuppenny Farm’, this quaint little cottage and surrounding property belongs to landscape designer Paula Kilpatrick and her partner Antony Elliot, and their sweet little newborn bub Nellie Elliot, who arrived just a few weeks after we photographed this story, on Novembr 27th!  (CONGRATS guys!).

An Architectural Gem, Designed Around An Oak Tree

Many people dream of having a grand old tree in their backyard, but they can sometimes throw up challenges!

The owners of this Fitzroy North home certainly didn’t want to remove their property’s beloved tree, but wanted a house and garden that better embraced the oak in all its glory, without impacting the dwelling.

Kennedy Nolan stepped in to devise a careful reworking of the existing Victorian house, which now feels embedded in its accompanying Amanda Oliver designed garden. 

A Colourful, Art-Filled Family Home In Balmain

We’ve been doing everything possible to bring you our usual weekly Wednesday home features on The Design Files this year, but it hasn’t always been easy! With Melbourne’s lockdown restrictions putting a stop to our regular photoshoots for months, we’ve been sourcing new interstate contributors, and even asking a handful of photographers to shoot their own homes! 

Today, we’re dipping into our archives to revisit the renovated Balmain terrace of Sophie Trippe-Smith, entrepreneur Adam Trippe-Smith, their children Emerson and Tatum, and dog Pepper.  We also caught up with Sophie to learn what new art purchases she’s made over the past year, and what’s in store for the near future! 

A Lush Heritage Garden in Sydney – The Design Files | Australia's most popular design blog.

GardensA Lush Heritage Garden in Sydney - The Design Files | Australia's most popular design blog.

Sydney-based landscape designer Michael Bates reckons some gardens just need a nip and tuck – a tightening up and a smoothing out  rather than a complete overhaul. This heritage beauty in Sydney’s northern suburbs is one such example. ‘The most important thing with beautiful old gardens like this is to be considerate of and sensitive to the overall fabric of the space,’ he tells me.

Michael was approached by the garden owners a couple of years ago to help them create a sense of order within the space. They’re very keen gardeners and have been living at the property for many years. The garden had been designed around 20 years ago, and needed re-invigoration, simplification and a few structural tweaks to make it more functional.

First up was the front entry. A series of gravel courts in the front garden and a lack of a clearly defined entry pathway meant that visitors often ended up knocking on the bedroom door, rather than the front door! Michael and his team designed a wide sandstone pathway, winding around an existing weeping cherry tree, and leading visitors directly and clearly to the front door.

Simplification of some of the existing planting was also on the cards. ‘The owners of this garden are collectors,’ Michael tells me. ‘They absolutely love growing plants. Quite often we come across collectors as clients and I see our job as designers of these gardens to assist our clients in turning a collection into a cohesive arrangement.’

Michael and his team achieved cohesion by transplanting some shrubs from the front area into other parts of the garden, and simplifying the layers of planting in the space. They also built a series of low sandstone lawn terraces, to create a sense of repetition throughout the space. Working around the existing mature trees was a challenge – ‘We stitched the terraces into the garden very carefully, being very mindful of the roots of the magnificent old Magnolia soulangeana,’ Michael says. ‘Some of the stone walls had to be re-arranged around roots we found, so as to not damage the integrity of tree.’

Working with committed gardeners is a dream for most landscape designers. Having engaged clients means that a garden will be tended, loved, and most importantly, understood. Gardeners understand that gardens take time, that some plants just die no matter what you do, and that sometimes you’ve got to practice tough love.  ‘A bit of chainsaw gardening was required,’ says Michael. ‘We needed to work out what key elements needed to remain, and what things should go, in order to regenerate the garden, create new layers of planting, and let more light into the lower stories.’

A loved garden like this one is like a family heirloom. It’s a treasure handed down from one generation to the next and the next. Guided by the sensitive hand of designer Michael Bates, this gem will continue quietly blooming for many years to come. ‘I’d like to think that when we were finished it was hard to discern where we’d been and where we hadn’t,’ Michael says.

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