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Built-in furniture and a palette of natural shades and materials give this courtyard a spacious feel


Maximising space in small outdoor areas can be a challenge for landscape designers. But the courtyard of this inner-city townhouse shows how a simple, clutter-free design can provide a workable solution.

At just 4m x 5m, this neglected area needed to be transformed into a useable outdoor room that would look good year- round. The aim was to create something that was both functional and aesthetic, says landscape designer Jack Merlo.

"By keeping the design simple and contemporary, and adding bifold doors to the adjacent living areas, we were able to maximise the feeling of space and flow."

Custom-designed, built-in furniture, made from ebony-stained jarrah, takes up minimal room. A raised planter along the wall behind the table runs the full length of the courtyard and acts as a backrest for the seating.

The illusion of additional space is also achieved by keeping the area predominantly light with accents of dark colours.


"We used a palette of natural tones and materials," says Merlo. "As the courtyard doesn't get much sun, glare wasn't a problem, so we chose a bone-coloured paver with river pebbles running through it. This contrasts nicely with the dark-stained timber used on the bench and table."

An unusual water feature adds interest to one of the high walls. Water flows down three dark, framed rectangles, each with its own concealed reservoir and pump.

This is a compact and economical way of incorporating a water feature into such a small space, says Merlo.

First published date: 24 July 2003

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Credit List

Landscape designer Jack Merlo, Jack Merlo Landscape Design (Brighton, Victoria)
Paving SVC Gettistone pavers
Walls/hard landscaping Jack Merlo
Lighting Light on Landscape
Built-in outdoor furniture Ebony-stained jarrah with a stainless steel base, custom designed by Jack Merlo
Chairs Segis Flash from KFive
Water features Aludean Sculpture