There is something a little magical about Cassandra Fenaughty’s home.
You can sense it deep within your being.
As you stand on the timber veranda overlooking the backyard, the soft morning rays filter through the majestic pine trees and wash over your body. In that moment, all feels right in the world.
Perhaps it is that direct connection with the natural environment – that whisper of a breeze, the rich scent of the trees tickling your nose, the gentle birdsong brushing past your ears, or could something deeper be at play?
Past the hundred-year-old hoop pines that dot the backyard, and over the fence, a sacred Indigenous birth site is hidden in the dense rainforest. The trees seemingly protecting the hallowed ground. “It is truly special,” Cassandra says.
Exploring the Buderim backyard is a beautiful experience. In keeping with the existing elements, the family has created a whimsical space reminiscent of a fairy garden from children’s storybooks.
“We wanted functionality for the backyard. We designed a series of turfed level terraces around the trees connected by narrow turfed pathways,” Cassandra tells salt.
“We wanted flat turf spaces so that our daughter could cartwheel through the garden. We also wanted to be able to sit out there and use the space. We’ve got nature’s air-conditioner with the breeze. There is nothing nicer than sitting there in the shade. We set trestle tables up on the top terrace and friends come over. We sit there facing the view, sharing food, enjoying the fire pit, surrounded by fairy lights.
“When we bought the home, the house had its back turned completely to the natural background. The master bedroom, which overlooks that beautiful forest, only had one small window. We installed big sliding doors and constructed a veranda to drink in that view.”
The house itself is perched in an elevated position at the end of a cul-de-sac, the pretty rainforest and nature refuge creating an organic backdrop.
Purchasing the property in 2019, Cassandra and husband Chris, who both are landscape architects, understood the importance of working with the natural surrounds to create an outdoor space that was not only functional, but connected with the environment.
“That connection is massively important for wellbeing, especially with more people now working from home and with how busy and chaotic our lives are. Being immersed in nature is so important for the soul,” Cassandra says.
“We need built spaces that are calming and allow us to breathe. We need the sun, the vitamin D. No matter how big or small that connection is, it’s important. It doesn’t matter how small your garden is, all you need is a little bit of trickling water, to hear the breeze rustle through the leaves of the trees. We need that outdoor experience, the tranquillity of being one with nature.” The couple called on the ancient practice of Feng Shui to design their outdoor haven.
Visitors enter the home through a stunning hundred-year-old solid timber door that has been reconditioned and painted white. The door opens onto platform composite-decking entry stairs that gently graduate to an external stairwell. The stairwell leads up to a veranda. The warm-coloured timber-look deck material has also been used on the ceiling to create a resort-feel feature.
Beautiful coastal-inspired rattan pendant lights decorate the walkway and stairwell, while sun hats and beach bags are hung to create a homely feel in the entry foyer.
A tactile feature stone-faced rock wall constructed alongside the stairs and a four-metre high aluminium screen add to the luxe resort look. The stairwell and veranda overlook the tropical concrete pool.
“From a Feng Shui point of view it is very cleansing to walk past a garden and a water element before entering your home,” Cassandra explains.
“Walking through such a beautiful space also encourages you to breathe deeply and feel centred. When you open that vintage door and walk through into the entry, you feel relaxed.”
Cassandra says many people only consider their pool as a functional place for swimming and entertaining, but it can also double as an impressive water feature.
The family’s pool, which was installed in an unusable side yard area, features the same composite decking material, sand-coloured porcelain tiles and subtropical landscaping to soften and frame the space.
Resort-style timber and linen furniture, a single wicker accent armchair and cushions created by Indigenous artists in the Northern Territory complete the contemporary coast-meets-British Colonial home style.
Cassandra and Chris spent the past two years designing and completing the outdoor project, which forms part of a larger renovation plan.
They had to consider their overall vision before settling on an outdoor design to ensure the interior melded with the exterior.
“We looked at what we had and what we didn’t want to replace to define what sort of style and feel could work.
“We had dark timber flooring inside the house. Outside, the perimetres we were working with were weatherboard and plantation shutters. We looked at the roof line and verandas. A British Columbia style is what could work well. I had a feeling it would be an emerging style. Hamptons goes hand in hand with the Sunshine Coast lifestyle, and so does this, with its tropical Bahamas look.
“All people saw with this property was a pole home, but once we boxed out those posts to create pillars, added sandstone elements, changed the colour palette and added tropical plantings, it all came together.”
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