The Zones Auckland team helped these homeowners achieve their dream outdoor oasis.

WORDS Mina Phillips

Shortly after moving into their new home, homeowners Ruth and Jonathan decided to personalise their paved patio area. They wanted to enhance the aesthetics of the outdoor space while improving its year-round usability. 

“We engaged the team at Zones in Auckland to help us with a fairly substantial outdoor entertainment area for our property in Epsom”, explains Jonathan. “This was an end-to-end, design-to-completion project that involved initial planning, build-out of completely new decking, fireplace and outdoor cooking installation, louvre installation and garden landscaping.”

During the design process, it was important to Jonathan and Ruth that their outdoor area blended in with the style of the home as well as their personal taste and lifestyle requirements. Landscaping specialist Rose Bridge supported the homeowners through every aspect of the project, and worked closely with landscape designer Naomi Grey to translate Jonathan and Ruth’s ideas into a cohesive plan. 

“Design decisions at the beginning were critical for such a detailed project”, tells Rose. “Designing the unique, custom-made bench unit was the first priority. This involved tossing up whether the unit should be all concrete versus all wood, or a combination of both. We decided on a wooden bench with a thick concrete top to match the thickness of a new Flare Fireplace, and the cladding of the frame underneath to match the new Garapa deck. The bench builder and concrete manufacturer had to work closely together while templating the two areas for the new unit and how they were going to fit together in the space provided. We are very happy with our design!”

During the planning stages of the project, Rose provided Ruth and Jonathan with a range of decking samples, helping them to decide on the right materials for their needs. This included looking at style, durability and pricing. 

“It was really important to Jonathan that the new hardwood deck and bench retain their natural light brown tones over time, rather than weathering to the grey look that is inevitable.  After much research into the various stain/oil options for decking and which process and product would have the greatest longevity, we came up with a strategy that has achieved the desired outcome - a very comprehensive project plan was required as there were so many logistics for getting things done in the right order”, explains Rose. 

Once the design was in place and the ideal materials chosen, Rose worked with her team to put together a fixed-quote. From there, the project began. 

The deck was built using garapa hardwood and now wraps around the back of the house and leads to the pool. Following this, the custom-built bench was installed as well as outdoor lighting and a Weber BBQ.

I can't recommend the service and overall delivery more highly

“The whole unit was designed around the new Flare Fireplace that we proposed in the concept stage, as Jonathan really wanted to be able to cook pizzas outside and well as have an outdoor fire for warmth. The chunkiness of the Flare unit matches the look of the home while the built-in storage bench seat is functional but also wraps the whole area nicely to frame the new deck.”

Next up was the garden.

“To soften the look of the new structures, our designer created a new garden area to wrap around the back of the Flare Fireplace and bench seat. This involved digging up the existing pavers and concrete, then developing a gorgeous planting plan for the new garden, as well as replacement plants to tidy up and provide a better screen along the boundary wall.”

As a large focus of the project was on creating year-round outdoor comfort and usability, a louvre roof with adjustable panels was essential to achieving shelter from the rain and sun. For added practicality, guttering was fitted into the home’s original roof frame.

Between Rose and project manager Andrea, who did an excellent job with daily communication and coordination of contractors, there was little room for error. As a result, the landscape design was carried out efficiently and to Jonathan and Ruth’s liking.

“I can't recommend the service and overall delivery more highly”, says Jonathan. “The service from Rose and Andrea in co-ordinating the plan was excellent. Great communication at all times, despite the inevitable weather interruptions and tradie rescheduling, we always knew each week and each day what was going to happen and when. The work delivered by the tradespeople met and often exceeded expectations, and any problems that arose, big or small, were quickly addressed by Zones and solutions always appeared quickly and creatively. The perspective I'd add is that you, of course, get what you pay for, and I appreciate that we paid Zones for a high degree of service. However, for us where we are "noobs" to larger projects like this, and also busy with work, the premium vs. a DIY option was well worth the result. So - definitely 5 stars across the board.”

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