The Stables

Built in the 1900s, The Stables at Clovelly was once occupied only by horses and hay bales.

However, the space has since been converted into a liveable home that’s a perfect example of a stylish warehouse renovation, well executed.

The front facade of the building provides no clues to its heritage or of what lies within. Inside, there has been little effort to disguise the warehouse’s history, instead it has been embraced. Original hardwood timber beams, exposed brick and even a trapdoor for hay remain and hay pay homage to its previous incarnation.

The internal courtyard garden was the final piece of the puzzle that was needed to complete the refurbishment. When Matt from Secret Gardens became involved, the brief was to redesign the area so it seemed like an extension of the home; the only provision being that the pool remained and a barbeque be installed. The rest was left open to interpretation – a designer’s dream.

Distinctively set on the second floor of the house, the garden is entirely indoors. The only natural light that enters the space comes from large skylights in the ceiling, meaning there would be no natural rainfall and limited soil capacity. Matt explains, although this initially presented the design team with a challenge, it has resulted in a truly unique project.

The team began with a complete gutting of the Tuscan fit out, by removing all remains of what Matt described as a ‘Roman ruin’. Although there were no changes to the structure, 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 color. 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 area. Matt’s solution was to hang the majority 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 had stumbled across an abandoned barn. To achieve this, a broad range of foliage was planted and, in due course, they’ll trail down and around the exposed timber rafters, naturally becoming overgrown and wild.

The challenge of lack of light and rainfall may have been enough for many to reconsider the desire to create a garden in the courtyard, but this was not the only challenge that had to be overcome. There was also the issue of space, or lack thereof.

To provide the illusion of more room, 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 for the idea to succeed 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 provides a perfect balance of modern design and outdoor living. The use of stainless steel and timber finishes on the barbeque 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.