The fairytale story of the ugly duckling is familiar and well known, but what about turning into two swans? That’s exactly the magic Interior Designer Kate Lawrence and Sydney Swans Footballer Luke Parker wove at a run down property in the eastern Sydney suburbs. The process of creating two modern backyards for a duplex is no easy task.

We went on a tour of the Duplex backyards with Kate and found out more about her reno experience.

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Comfortable but luxurious ‘Dark’ backyard

From one to two, creating a modern Duplex takes a lot of time, energy and collaboration to make it work.

“We worked with our architect and pool builder to come up with the most practical backyard design for a duplex,” Kate explains.

“We had to take into consideration things such as Tree Protection zones from neighbouring properties and the most cost effective way to build.

“To save costs and achieve a pool in both properties, we inserted one shell, building a dividing wall through the middle.

“When it came to picking plants and the aesthetic of the landscaping this was Luke’s domain and I happily handed over those reins!” 

creating two modern backyards
Kate and Luke relaxing at the ‘Dark’ home

This is not the first reno Kate and Luke have done together, and it’s certainly not the last with another modern duplex project on the way.

“Luke did a lot of work throughout the build, moving soil around and trying to get things level as well as collecting hundreds of glass bottles we uncovered along the way.

“Lucky for us we are normally on the same page with most things design wise. That or I go full steam ahead with my ideas and poor Luke is left behind!” laughs Kate.

creating two modern backyards
Relaxed boho vibes in the ‘Light’ house backyard

All house renovations take time and planning, but even this power couple couldn’t foresee some of the events that unfolded during the build.

“Just when we were getting closer to the fun phase — laying grass, planting plants, filling the pool, Luke had to go away for work and live in an AFL hub for about 9 weeks to continue his season.

“This meant I had to find someone to fill his position quick smart to avoid delays! We did however still spend A LOT of time on Facetime to go over everything.”

creating two modern backyards
Calming green backyard at the ‘Dark’ house

The best part of any renovation is watching it come together, and Kate has her favourites.

“The day Blue Haven Pools returned to do the interior lining of both pools and lay all our outdoor limestone paving was a major highlight for me. It was a huge milestone to fill the pools up!

“I absolutely love when plants are established on a project. I think it takes it from looking like a brand-new build to a welcoming home.

“Now that the plants have started to really take off, I absolutely love them flowing over and into the pool. The pool was always the centre piece of the backyard, so it is hard to go past that.

I also love the complementary textures of weathered timber, greenery and limestone paving in the backyard. It feels like a little oasis.

It was the move into her new home at the Duplex that led Kate to change her timeline for future projects.

“We powered on with the construction of both homes and attended to the backyards at the very end of the project.

“In our next project, I intend to do a lot of the landscaping and planting in the early phase so when the owners move in, they too are treated to an established-looking backyard.

“It will also avoid a lot of dirt and mud from being carried around site. My only challenge will be keeping the trades off the grass!”

creating two modern backyards
Modern fire pit from the ‘Light’ house
creating two modern backyards
Peaceful and luxurious, the backyard is a haven for the family.

If you would like to know what materials she used, Kate has kindly shared them with us.

“The decking is Blackbutt timber with Cutek CDK50 oil, this will allow it to naturally grey.

“The pool paving is limestone from Eco Outdoors and is the Garonne.

“White Render is Rockcote by Sandcote Hydratech and the colour is Lexicon Quarter.

“And of course the pool is by Blue Haven Pools.”

We loved learning more from Kate Lawrence about creating two modern backyards at once. Are you planning a home reno? Would you have done something differently? Have you had any surprises while completing your home renovation? Let us know in the comments.

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