Minimalism in Mosman

Project completed by Get Smart Landscaping in 2016.

“You don’t need to use a lot of ‘stuff’ to achieve elegance. Simplicity is best.”

Marty Roberts of Get Smart Landscaping is one of those owner/ builders that inspires us all. With a team of over 20 staff, he also undertakes his own renovation projects in Mosman since 1998; buying – renovating – selling transformations of exquisite beauty and elegant detailing before moving on to the next grand adventure. His renovation at Prince Albert Street is one such property and the envy of anyone interested in high-end, quality finishes and outstanding design choices. With a to-die for colour palate that feeds the senses, and a furthering of textural delights into the landscape, Roberts knows how to create a sensation.

After 11 months in council approval, and with his twin school-aged boys, Marty Roberts moved into the home in November 2015 to begin the rebuild. “Council required the house be built on a 40,000 litre water tank. There were 3 bedrooms in front, and we demolished everything to build a 6 bedroom, 3.5 bathroom home with library and study.”

Interior Design

The interiors of this stately home were designed by Ann King Designs. They are striking and exceptional. “Half of Mosman has walked through this house” Marty asserts with pride, “It’s the favourite because of the colours and finishes. The black details on the windows and doors in an off-white house is a standout, and every room has feature colouring.”

Floating on Water

Freestyle Pools built the pool, floating deck and floating seating area. Marty explains he used stone from Sareen Stone for the cladding on the pool walls. “Piet Boon had this stone as walling in a courtyard [in a book] and I got inspired by that. The landscape designer then added the plants to supplement it and it looks amazing” he exclaims.

Silvery Greens and Shapely Textures

“My brief to Elizabeth Callaghan, from Hortus Design, was to create a formal look yet to be different so that it’s not your everyday Mosman landscape.”

“The design brief was really simple and elegant” adds Elizabeth Callaghan. “Everything was pared back and not too complicated.”

“At that time, I loved Buxus balls and wanted the informal look of clustered Buxus in various sizes. This was the first time I had done that and now I use them regularly. I love that feeling of soft shapes – the gentleness of the Buxus balls” Callaghan reflects.

“This project was quite possibly the simplest landscape I have ever designed. Marty wanted stepping stones in gravel to enter the house, and to keep the front entrance open, so entry was offset, and the entire landscape fell into place easily with a simple plant palate to match.”

The results are stunning. “Sometimes you don’t need to use a lot of stuff to achieve elegance. Simplicity is best,” she declares.

Elizabeth describes the front garden. “I went for contrasting shapes and forms, using Raphiolepis indica ‘Oriental Pearl’ to give that rounded feeling, contrasting with the large leaved ground cover and soft strappiness of the grasses of Liriope muscari ‘Evergreen Giant’.”

“The back garden was softer still and slightly different. Here we introduced new textures and Marty employed the Cotswald Stone in the swimming pool wall. Viburnum hedging was used against the boundaries and there is a repetition of Hedera canariensis – ‘Canary Island Ivy’ as the ground cover.”

The area outside of the living room used feature pots and mass planting of Liriope. “It was softer and more contemporary than the other areas of the formal garden,” explains Callaghan.

“We have a Pin Oak in the lawn which is such a grand statement. Oh, to plant a real tree! It is a constant fight to plant large trees in landscape design – people see the dropping of leaves and go instead for medium sized trees at most, and then the palate becomes limited. We created a feature of this tree which will grow with time.”

Working with Alpine Nurseries

“We use Alpine Nurseries because there is never a plant delivered that isn’t up to standard. You know the quality is always going to be fantastic” Marty asserts.

We asked Marty if it’s hard to move on from a property like this. “Absolutely it’s hard to let go, but I know I can do it again.”

Project Manager/ Builder: Marty Roberts, Get Smart Landscaping
Interior Design: Ann King Designs
Landscape Design: Elizabeth Callaghan, Hortus Design
Plants: Alpine Nurseries
Pool:
Freestyle Pools
Stones: Sareen Stone

Featured plants

  • Betula nigra - Tropical Birch
  • Buxus microphylla ‘Japonica’ – Balls
  • Crassula arborescens  ‘Blue Bird’
  • Dichondra argentea  ‘Silver Falls’
  • Elaeagnus macrophylla   - Russian Olive
  • Hedera canariensis – ‘Canary Island Ivy’
  • Hedera  canariensis – Canary Island
  • Liriope muscari ‘Evergreen Giant’   - Giant Liriope
  • Pyrus nivalis  - ‘Snow Pear’
  • Quercus  palustris – Pin Oak
  • Raphiolepis indica ‘Oriental Pearl’ - Dwarf Indian Hawthorn
  • Viburnum odoratissimum –Sweet Viburnum
  • Wisteria