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A certain Style

Interior designer David Muirhead approached his garden much like he would a home – creating a series of well connected, dramatic spaces

David Muirhead is not only extremely adept at visualizing, he also isn’t afraid of large scale alterations involving earth-moving equipment. What he’d bought in a quiet, tree-lined street in Parkmore, Jo’burg, was a roomy but dated bungalow; the garden bordered by a low wall and a series of giant banana palms. What he imagined, was a split-level contemporary space that would create a verdant backdrop to an entertainer’s patio.

“The property was one flat surface,” he explains, “with no sense of approach and a vast kidney-shaped pool. The first step was to build a substantial boundary wall that turned into a useful visual canvas. The next was to excavate the entire garden space so that the house sits at a higher, more dramatic level. This allowed me to create a strong sense of entry from the front gate with an avenue of leopard trees leading towards the house and wide shallow steps connecting the lawn and entertaining areas.”


On the plus side, the garden had a beautifully established camphor tree. To give this even more emphasis, David situated the new rim flow pool directly in front of it. “This renovation allowed for clean lines which create a sense of order and formality that I find very calming in a garden,” he says. “The tones are intentionally neutral, with the black porcelain tiles around the pool and on the patio offsetting the simple groomed lawn and mostly green plantings.”

Purple agapanthus add a shot of seasonal colour. Hardy pennyroyal groundcover softens the steps and pavers with David’s trademark glamour expressed in a pair of glossy white armchairs from Peter JA Stuart perched on the grass. But perhaps the strongest statement is the striped and mirrored wall, a bold choice that reflects the entire patio and makes the garden seem far larger than it is. “I’d seen a striped interior wall on a trip to Italy which sparked this idea, and the bronzed mirror made by Dennis Luck from Reflections Glass adds a lot of light and depth. High walls can be very overpowering and this treatment, together with the border of leopard trees, was a good way to add interest.

”While David admits that he seldom swims, this garden has become an urban sanctuary and the place he loves to entertain in the most. “It really comes into its own at night and the reflections in the pool and mirrors are truly magical.” With an eye for detail, David added a variety of concealed lighting in the pool and plant beds, with masses of lanterns grouped on the patio. “I enjoy the garden all year round, even when it’s covered in leaves. I appreciate the simplicity, and the way it connects so seamlessly to the house.”

Reference: Garden & Home | May 2014


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