‘Your Home and Garden’ editor Shelley Ferguson and husband Steve say it was love at first sight when they first saw their 1960’s home.

It had lots of space to cater for their young growing family – Flynn, (6), Jett (5) and Lily the cat – including a large deck and pool out the back. However, even though the home was on a generous 780m2 section, it had zero lawn ….

“I’m a big believer in assessing every inch of your outdoor area because often it’s there but not utilised or linked,” says Shelley. “So, I drew up a design that created a visual ‘wow’ factor but also gained us valuable space.”

The mid-century home is surrounded by a beautiful palm garden, which Shelley says inspired her to create a Palm Springs theme.


Before …


… after



“While we were very happy to have a pool, it was a dark and dated area due to old, cracking black pavers and lots of overhanging trees,” explains Shelley. “My poor husband Steve spent gruelling weeks sledgehammering out thick, old concrete and pavers and levelling the ground. I have always dreamed of a Palm Springs style breeze-block wall and my vision has finally come to life!”

Shelley designed the wall using Firth Solar Screen Blocks and had it built by a blocklayer across the back of the section to create a streamlined focal point instead of the former dark, busy background. She also chose a concrete slab pour for the entire area surrounding the pool to maximise the extra room and make the space feel larger.

“Steve got rid of six skips of trees and concrete path from the rear side of the house – he lost 10kg in the process, but we gained a 20 x 4m stretch of land,” adds Shelley. “It’s not huge but it means the boys can kick a ball around and have a trampoline within a secure play space. The side fence used to be a mix of about four styles – instead I wanted a horizontal cedar-slat fence to run the entire length. Huge shout-out to my clever hubby here – he designed and built it himself, with some slat-laying help from his dad.”

“We’re both ecstatic about the end result. Not only has it added space and value, it’s a unique design that’s sympathetic to the home’s era yet executed in a modern way.”

Text by Shelley Ferguson. After photography by Helen Bankers.