My family and I pretty much live to entertain. We can think of nothing better than filling our new dream home with family and friends - eating, drinking, chatting #makingmemories. And what better place to do it than in the ultimate outdoor entertaining area!

The only problem… the whole vision for my dream home was to create a coastal lifestyle… but we’re miles from the coast. I want to feel like I’m on holiday all year round so this means water views, tropical gardens, sun-loungers for all… in The Hills of Sydney. Sounds impossible? No way, I’m always up for a challenge!

When it came to designing the outdoor entertaining area for my dream home, I called on the Queen of landscape design (and my girl crush), Mon Palmer. I’ve always thought Mon’s projects were totally ah-mazing and knew that this was my chance to get her to work a bit of her magic in my own backyard. #pinchme #monandbon #meanttobe

Remember that totes amazeballs ‘3D fly-through’ video you swooned over in Episode 1? That’s Mon’s wondrous work and became the inspo for building my dream outdoor area.

Here are my essential elements for the perfect alfresco area:



An uncovered pergola looks beautiful and might be lovely for warm summer evenings but choosing a weather-proof pergola for parts of your outdoor area will provide much better sun and rain protection. It’ll also extend the number of months a year you can use the outdoor area.

Us lucky ducks in Sydney have the perfect climate for outdoor entertaining much of the year round. But we added a built-in fireplace so that we can still sit outside even when the temperature drops at night. The open-fire adds a gorgeous ambience and the kids are going to have a ball, toasting marshmallows.

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The swimming pool was always going to be front and centre of our outdoor area. My dream home is nowhere near the coast, so the pool is the water that brings the #coastal into my #moderncoastalbarn. You can see glimpses of it from all the living areas, and my master suite, and it creates those water views I always wanted.

Apart from creating the awesome view, having the pool right in the middle of our outdoor entertaining space has many other benefits. It means we can watch the kids in the pool without dragging ourselves away from the comforts of the house. And there’s certainly no risk of ‘out of sight, out of mind’ when it comes to how much we’ll actually use the pool. We’re literally dragging the boys out of it at the end of the day.

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At your place, do you find the boys seem to congregate in the corner by the BBQ? While the girls prepare salads in the kitchen. What’s with that? I wanted to bring the BBQ out of the corner and make it a sociable, and comfortable, area for us all to gather, prepare food and chat while we cook. #nobodyputsbarbieinthecorner

We built our BBQ into an island bench, looking out towards the action, so that even the chef has a view of the pool. A built-in BBQ will help create a seamless look in your outdoor kitchen. And an island bench outside works the same way as it does inside. If you’ve got the space and budget, a Fisher & Paykel CoolDrawer™ would also be a great addition (yes, you can use them outside too!) and storage cupboards. And then you can seat the troops around it on bar stools. Such a versatile space!

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I just can’t get enough of different kinds of seating areas! Lans and Erin think I’ve gone OTT – party for 200 anyone?! But I just love it all and they bring such a lovely feel to the backyard. 

We’ve got the gorgeous lounge area by the open fire with the hanging Bali day bed. And I can’t stop crushing over the sunken lounge area next to the pool. It’s filled with luxe, over-sized cushions and you can’t help but imagine you’re on holiday when you’re kicking back here. It’s the perfect place to lie back with a coffee or a cocktail while we watch the kids in the pool.

Did you know? I changed the design of this mid-way through my reno. You’ll see in the original design that Mon and I came up with, the sunken sun lounge was INSIDE the pool area, with the glass surrounding it - but once it was built I realised I wanted easy access to be able to plop myself down as Dodge runs amok on his balance bike. Having to go through a pool gate every time would put that in the #toohardbasket #mumlife.  




Mon and I first bonded over our mutual love of lush green and white planting. So, she was right on board with my dream of massive palm trees, a few fragrant frangipanis and lush green lawns.

With the rest of my outdoor area looking white enough to rival a blizzard at Thredbo (Lana’s words!), the planting was really important to add some character. The huge palm trees and scent of frangipanis really bring an authentic resort-like feel to the outdoor area. I can’t help but feel like I’m on holidays at home. #justmissingthepoolboy

We can’t wait for the weekend to throw some snags on the barbie, put on some chilled tunes and laze by the pool or fireplace, depending on the season. If I close my eyes tightly enough I can almost block out the noise from boys playing footy in the garden and escape to a beach in Byron… but I don’t really need to. I’m the luckiest lady in the world, always on holidays at home.



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