Built in the 1900s, The Stables at Clovelly was once home to horses and hay bales.
The space has since been transformed into a liveable home that’s a great example of a stylish warehouse renovation done right. The front facade of the building provides no clues to its heritage or of what lies within. Once inside, there has been little effort to disguise the warehouses’ history, instead it has been embraced. Original hardwood timber beams, exposed brick and even a trapdoor for hay pay homage to its past life.
The internal courtyard garden was the final piece of the puzzle in completing the refurbishment. When Matt from Secret Gardens came on board, the brief was to re-design the area so it felt like an extension of the home; the only provision being that the pool remained and a BBQ be installed. The rest was free reign – a designers dream!
Uniquely set on the second floor of the house, the garden is completely indoors. The only natural light into the space comes from large skylights in the ceiling. This meant that there would be no natural rainfall and limited soil capacity. Matt explains, although this presented the design team with a challenge at the time, it has resulted in a truly unique project.
The team started with a complete gutting of the Tuscan fit out, by removing all traces of what Matt described as a ‘Roman ruin’. Although no structural changes were made, the area was completely stripped back getting rid of previous efforts to ‘domesticate’ the building.
Torino flooring was used to lift the space with its light grey colour. Its industrial aesthetic compliments the stainless steel fittings of the barbeque and is a refreshing contrast against the timber rafters and greenery that sit above it.
Without natural rainfall and limited soil capacity, it was imperative to come up with smarter ways to get greenery into the space. Matt’s solution was to hang most of the plants from the rafters and discreetly run irrigation along the rigging to ensure the plants survived and thrived in the challenging conditions.
Matt’s vision was for the greenery to appear as it would if you’d stumbled across an abandoned barn. To achieve this, a broad range of foliage was planted and in time, they’ll trail down and around the exposed timber rafters, naturally becoming overgrown and wild.
The challenge of a lack of light and rainfall may have been enough for many to reconsider the desire to create a garden in the courtyard, but there was one more challenge to overcome. This was in the form of space, or lack thereof.
To provide the illusion of more space, large mirrors were installed. Matt says although using mirrors can be hit or miss, the key to making it work is in the scale. The only way was to go big. Large panes of mirror occupy most of two out of the four walls which not only creates the illusion of space, but appears to double the greenery making it all the more effective in achieving a natural, overgrown state. Not to mention reducing the maintenance.
A simple palette of materials that combines industrial and earthy elements achieves a perfect balance of modern design and outdoor living. The use of stainless steel and timber finishes on the BBQ to match the kitchen fittings inside, is key in connecting the two rooms, whilst the use of greenery softens the area and ensures it fulfils its duties of providing the owners with an ‘outdoor’ space.