In Sydney, we’re pretty lucky that mild winters mean we can enjoy every area of home all year around, including our backyards. But it’s still important to create an outdoor space that is inviting, warm and most importantly, user-friendly. We spoke to Deb Meyer from Vogue & Vine about how she creates the ultimate outdoor area.
A landscape designer, with more than 13 years of industry experience, Deb Meyer loves creating beautiful outdoor spaces that are not only aesthetically pleasing but also impact the way people feel.
Together with her mum Nina Moss, Deb co-founded Vogue & Vine, a landscape design and outdoor furniture company. Deb shares some tips on how to create an ideal garden and balcony space that elicits joy and tranquility and enhances people’s lifestyle.
For Deb and Nina, the first step is understanding the client’s needs – how they want to use the space, and how they want to feel in the space, as well as their likes and dislikes.
They undertake a thorough site analysis which involves assessing different elements in the space, including the genius loci, or spirit of the place. This helps the Vogue & Vine team develop a concept that works with the environmental requirements of the space, while still giving their client what they want. It’s about personalising the design.
“Once that’s established we start developing broad design concepts, involving layout of the different elements in the garden and the overall functioning of the space,” Deb says.
“Then we present those ideas to the client along with a mood board of recommended plants and other suggested items in the space. It’s a funnel approach where we involve the client throughout the process and include 3D images to help the client visualise exactly how the area will look.
“A homeowner’s personality can be incorporated into the design in numerous ways, from the overall design concept to choice of plants or colour scheme, to specific choices of furniture, pots, fabrics or quirky pieces that reflect the owner’s style,” Deb says.
While we’re fortunate that our winter weather is relatively mild in Sydney, we still experience some pretty chilly days. It’s important that our outdoor spaces are designed with this in mind.
Deb explains that there are a number of ways to maximise outdoor enjoyment even in cold weather.
“One way is to incorporate a well-placed deciduous tree, if possible, to allow the sun to warm up an outdoor living space during winter, when branches are bare and have a beautiful sculptural quality, and in summer, to provide leafy protection from the scorching sun.
Other options include a covered alfresco area and can include either an overhead or a standing heater. Fireplaces are always a beautiful centrepiece to draw a crowd during cold, wintery nights, especially surrounded by cosy outdoor seating.
Awnings are another great option, which encourages people to spend more time outside. And if space and budget allow, a spa is another great addition to an all-weather outdoor space. Think Japanese onsen in the snow!”
And for the families out there, according to Deb, all of these ideas can actually be perfectly family-friendly. Does anyone feel like roasting marshmallows or damper by the firepit?
Of course, planting a vegetable or herb garden during winter can also be a great child-friendly activity. Deb suggests tomatoes, lettuce, broad beans or broccoli. “ [It] might just be the catalyst that gets them eating more greens,” she laughs.
The new indoors
According to Deb, the outdoors are the new indoors. “So any method that enhances the enjoyment of the outdoor area has tremendous advantages,” she says.
“The benefits of outdoor awnings and blinds are numerous, from reducing heat in summer, protecting from harsh weather in winter and improving energy efficiency, as well as enhancing privacy and extending the usable area of your home all year round.”
As Deb says, creating a beautiful outdoor space that can be used all year round not only adds significant value to the price of your property but also brings a lot of joy and happiness.
“With people spending more time than ever at home, during COVID-19, we’re seeing a much greater level of appreciation of people’s connection to nature. Well designed outdoor spaces, no matter how small, is the easiest way to achieve that and certainly the most satisfying. People enjoy seeing their garden grow and it’s an active way of connecting to nature for both adults and children.
“During Covid, despite all the negative consequences, one of the upsides has been seeing people appreciate the more simple things in life, including more quality time with their loved ones, and valuing what’s in their own backyard, literally.”