Design Inspiration


Are you forever looking for great design to fill your home? From beautiful building materials to handmade accessories that finish a space, we are also on a continual quest to unearth new, interesting and sustainable products. This year we found quite a few amazing things that we cannot wait to use, and we wanted to share them with you too! Here are some of our favourite outdoor products that have popped up on our radar recently.

1. Nood Co concrete products

If there is one material that will never go out of style in outdoor spaces, it’s concrete. So we were very excited to discover this Australian company doing amazing things with this humble and hardworking material. Nood Co has found the balance between durability and aesthetics, and we can’t wait to try out these chevron tiles as a wall or floor feature. Their concrete sinks are also ideal for outdoor kitchens.


2. Glowpear planters

Want to grow your own herbs but don’t have a garden? We don’t think that’s too much to ask (that’s why we are called The Small Garden, after all) – so let us draw your attention to these Glowpear planters, which are perfect for small spaces like courtyards, balconies and empty walls. They have a clever self-watering feature that allows your edibles to absorb water when they need it, so you don’t need to fret about over or under-watering.


3. Inartisan Priya Square Floor Cushion

It’s the finishing touches that make a space special, and these cushions are just that. Inartisan’s Priya cushions are handwoven using water hyacinth, and the natural fibre complements natural colours and forms. We love these cushions so much that we recently purchased some for our own garden.


4. Byron Bay Hanging Chairs rattan folding chairs

The season for spending time outside is upon us, and these rattan chairs from Byron Bay Hanging Chairs will take you from your own small space garden to the park, beach and beyond. The rattan adds texture, and the design is ideal for propping up beside a small-space plunge pool or setting up on a small balcony while reading a book

5. Gather Co Indigenus planter collection

It is no secret that we take planter design seriously (so much so, we often have our planters custom made) – and this collection is one that will bring character to any outdoor space. The Indigenus collection of planters by Gather Co has been created in collaboration with designers and architects from South Africa. Handmade from sustainable materials, each sculptural planter celebrates slow design. Influences throughout the collection range from mid-century design to the form of tuber plants.

Terra Set.jpg

These are just some of the wares we have stumbled across during the year! From all-in-one designs made in Belgium to plant tiles, we share more of our favourite finds on social media. Follow us on Instagram or Facebook to see more – and if you try one of these products at home, tag us in the results: @thesmallgarden.

Happy shopping, designing and decorating!


Do you ever stare at your outdoor space and see potential? Maybe a pool area or a lush place to lounge? When we meet with clients, we completely understand what that feels like – because we have been there too. 

For the last few years we have had big plans for our garden, and for our home too. We looked outside and saw so much potential. Few spaces are as versatile as an outdoor area, and we know from our work with clients that few spaces enrich your lifestyle as much as a well-designed garden does. So you can imagine how excited we were to finally bring our backyard-in-waiting to life. 

Over the last 12 months, we made it all happen in a year of design and transformation (with a few moments of chaos). Transforming our Queenslander cottage and backyard at the same time was a big project to undertake with a family and a business. If you have noticed we have been a bit quiet on the blog, that’s why! 

Standing at the finish line, we can guarantee it was all worth it. The late nights saving inspiration on Pinterest, the hours spent searching for paint colours, tiles and fixtures, and the time living away from our home. It has all come together better than we imagined. 

You can plan every detail of how a home will look and function, but there are no words to describe how it felt when we moved back into a space that was created just for us. Now as spring rolls in to Brisbane, we can see our garden really starting to grow in and we are spending more time outdoors in our new backyard. 

As the garden takes shape over the coming months, we will share more of the project, but here is your first look at some of our favourite details – and the tips we want to pass on. 

The key focal point is this set of Indian doors. We have spent a lot of time in India, so this feature really resonates with us and brings back many happy memories. 


DESIGN TIP: When looking for ways to inject your personality into your space, think of places that are meaningful to you, and incorporate elements of them into the design. This could be a cottage garden you played in as a child, or a tropical resort where the bar staff have your cocktail order committed to memory. 


The other key addition is a pool! Given that we’ve got young children, this space will be an important place for our family to come together and unwind on hot summer days. Even in winter we have found the presence of water to be a calming backdrop to our daily lives. 

Around the pool, we have planted hardy succulents and cactus that will be easy for us to look after. We may have green thumbs, but we’re also short on time! Especially now that we have the upkeep of a pool, it was important for us to create a garden that was low maintenance. 


DESIGN TIP: When planning a new outdoor area, be realistic about how much time to have to commit to its upkeep. There is a massive selection of low maintenance plants that you can use to create a green oasis. 

The entertaining area brings it all together. Adding a pool to the garden did take up a large portion of the yard, but by using in-built bench seating we were able to maximise our entertaining space.  

So what’s next?

As promised, we will be showing you more from our renovation over the coming months. 

We will also be sharing monthly design and landscaping tips that you can use in your space, plus shots from the outdoor spaces we have been revamping. (Sign up for these updates below or download your free ebook Small Spaces, Big Ideas to ensure you don’t miss out!). 

But first, these are the design trends we have been working with. 

Outdoor design trends

There is so much happening in the design world right now – and a lot of the emerging ideas and styles are so well suited to Brisbane’s outdoor style of living. 

In particular, we are seeing natural materials making a big comeback in both architecture and design. Think jute rugs, natural stone, earthy mustard/terracotta/olive colour palettes and unstructured bohemian styling. That means there has never been a more exciting time to create a home where the interiors and the outdoors are all integrated. 



When you think of areas such as balconies and courtyards as outdoor rooms, it becomes so apparent how your outdoor space can become an extension of your internal living areas. By choosing to work with natural materials throughout your home, the connection between your indoor and outdoor living spaces happens intuitively. 

We are also seeing a lot more small garden areas within homes; ranging from internal courtyards to small features like this Japanese garden we loved bringing to life. 

Five things we’re loving:

  • Experimenting with jewel colour palettes 
  • The return of rattan and wicker furniture
  • Integrating terrazzo tiles into outdoor spaces
  • Collaborating on exciting design projects, including internal courtyards (we’ll be sharing these spaces as they’re completed)
  • Embracing slow living, now that we’ve settled back into our hom


The top ten indoor plants

Seven gardens that showcase why landscaping shouldn’t be afterthought

PS – Don’t forget about your free ebook, Small Spaces, Big Ideas. It’s got 45 pages of outdoor design ideas to get your inspired. 




Plants instantly rejuvenate an indoor space. And provided you find the right spot for your indoor plants and resist the temptation to over water them, they are relatively easy to grow.


When it comes to growing indoor plants, there are two main tricks for success:

  1. Choose plants that are suitable for indoor environments

  2. Find the right position for each plant 

There are a variety of indoor plants, with some being easier to care for than others. In the guide below, we have included a number of low-maintenance plants that will be happy enough with minimal water and light. For the best chance of growing success, take note of the different spaces in your home, their aspect and the amount of light they receive each day. Then when you visit your local nursery, look for plants that suit the lighting conditions.

As you read this guide, you will notice that many of the plants have large, glossy leaves. That’s because plants suited to indoor conditions are typically found in shaded tropical environments. Flowering plants need plenty of sun, so it’s uncommon to find houseplants that produce flowers – and those that do are likely to flower less frequently or not at all.

From hanging plants with delicate leaves to those with large foliage and eye-catching geometric shapes, these ten indoor plants will suit any number of decorating schemes. 


Download your FREE A3 printable guide here!


Want more planting inspiration? Download our complete guide to small space gardening!


What’s the secret to getting the most out of your landscaping? Start planning early. During a build or renovation, landscaping is often an afterthought, but this limits what you can do with your outdoor space and can also increase the cost of elements such as drainage and fixed structures, which are far easier to install during construction.

When building or renovating your home, there is a lot to think about and it makes sense that you may want to put landscaping on the back-burner. But while there is a lot we can achieve after a build or renovation, you will get the best design results when your landscaping is integrated into your initial planning. By consulting a professional landscaper before finalising your building plans, we can help you realise the full potential of your outdoor area and offer suggestions on how to maximise your use of the space.

Landscape design involves a number of practical considerations that must be accounted for, including:

  • Drainage

  • Access for construction

  • Aspect of the outdoor area

  • Creating flow between indoor and outdoor spaces

The process is often far more complex than you may have anticipated, but with good planning you can achieve outdoor bliss. The nature of these requirements also means that when your landscaping is integrated with the construction process, your budget will go further.

From indoor courtyards to striking entrance gardens and enhanced natural views, these seven spaces show you what’s possible when you plan your indoor and outdoor spaces in unison. 

1. Form and function

Concrete House by  Auhaus Architecture . Image via  desire to inspire .

Concrete House by Auhaus Architecture. Image via desire to inspire.

Every garden has requirements such as drainage, soil quality and access to taps and power points. It is far easier to have these issues addressed during construction rather than calling in tradespeople again when you are ready to install your outdoor area. This is especially important in small spaces such as this one, where restricted access can be a costly challenge to address after a building project is complete.

2. Indoor/outdoor connection

Image via  Decorfacil

Image via Decorfacil

Integrated indoor/outdoor living is a great way to enjoy your leisure time at home and fully reap the benefits of increased contact with nature. To achieve a space such as this, planning must be done before construction, as courtyards can pose the greatest logistical challenges in terms of access (especially if you are planning a feature such as the plunge pool pictured above).

In this space, the indoor area integrates seamlessly with the outdoor space, with details such as level flooring, material selection and the open kitchen all adding to the cohesive flow between the two spaces. At the planning stage, order materials for indoor and outdoor spaces at the same time. This is cheaper and will ensure there are no discrepancies in colour and patterning, as your materials such as tiles will be coming from the same batch.

3. Natural lighting and views

Image via  archiproducts

Image via archiproducts

This home is a clever example of what can be achieved even when outdoor space is limited. By planning the vertical garden at the same time as the rest of the home, the designers were able to integrate floor-to-ceiling windows into the kitchen to maximise natural light and provide an eye-catching view out to the garden. So even though the overall outdoor area is limited, the occupants are still making the most of the space. On a practical level, allowing more natural light into the home will reduce the lighting costs for the home, while vertical gardens such as this one are great for absorbing noise from the city or neighbours.

4. Rooftop gardens

Image and design by  Marco Carini

Image and design by Marco Carini

A habitable rooftop garden or green roof needs to be designed in the planning stage of a build or renovation, as these spaces have a number of extra considerations including structural support and waterproofing. You will also need to understand how much weight your rooftop can accommodate and if your plans need to be submitted to council, it is easiest to have this done at the same time as the rest of your building approvals. 

5. Internal courtyards

Image and design by  William Dangar

Image and design by William Dangar

Have you considered an internal courtyard? When outdoor space is limited, an internal courtyard becomes a relaxing central living hub. They are also an ideal solution for allowing more natural light into your home and increasing your exposure to nature. To get the planning of an internal courtyard right, you need to consider any overhead voids, planting and drainage. These spaces add value and impact, and can also make your home more energy efficient by allowing more natural light inside. 

6. Entrance gardens

This striking entrance is a great example of a challenging outdoor space. Not only do entrance gardens have practical elements such as driveways and paths that need to be considered, but this landscape design also had to overcome the challenges of an uneven site. When a space needs to be built up, it’s not always possible to incorporate a lot of greenery and this home is a great example of alternatives such as water features, which still foster a sense of connection with the outdoors.

7. Plunge pools and water features

Image via  My Pool Guide

Image via My Pool Guide

Even in a small space, it is possible to enjoy your own private pool. Accessing small spaces to install a plunge pool and the necessary drainage can be difficult and should be planned prior to construction. In this space, the pool has been cleverly raised, which limits excavation costs and makes installation easier. Similar considerations should be made for ponds or large water features.

Explore 45 pages of garden design ideas by downloading your free ebook, Small Spaces, Big Ideas.

We believe in giving credit where credit is due, so if at any time you see work that is improperly recognised, please send us a quick note & we’ll gladly update the information. Thanks for inspiring us!


The way we work is changing and, in response, so too is office design. As employees start seeking meaningful work and employers begin to focus on metrics like staff wellbeing and job satisfaction, we are seeing workplace design become more considered and inviting. 

The average Australian puts in almost 41 hours of work each week. That’s a substantial amount of time, so it makes sense that the design of an office will affect whether an employee wants to work for an organisation. In the report The Global Impact of Biophilic Design in the Workplace, a third of respondents said that office design affects their decision when accepting or declining a job. For many people, a well-designed office is not only a pleasant space to work, it also assures them that the organisation cares about its staff. 

So how can you make your workplace more conducive to staff happiness and productivity? One way is through biophilic design – a principle of integrating natural elements into the built environment. Research compiled in The Global Impact of Biophilic Design in the Workplace found that the calming presence of elements such as plants, natural materials and sunlight helps employees to better cope with stress and pressure, in turn improving their productivity. 

The report found that plants and other natural elements had the following impacts on staff: 

  • Creativity improves by 15% 

  • Productivity increases by 6%

  • Wellbeing is reported to increase by 15%

To show you ways to introduce more greenery into your office, we have put together ideas from inspiring workplaces around the world. 

Install a green wall

Image via  Inhabitat

Image via Inhabitat

At Airbnb’s head office in San Francisco, an impressive 1,226 sq ft green wall has been installed in the main atrium, creating a living piece of art. The green wall scales three floors of the office, while the design of the atrium allows natural light to filter in. The sets a calming tone as staff and visitors enter the office and the green wall can be viewed from many of the workspaces and meeting rooms within the building. 

Related reading: Vertical gardening – the ultimate spacesaver

Add potted plants to the office

Image via  designboom , photography by Toshikyuki Yano and Michael Feather

Image via designboom, photography by Toshikyuki Yano and Michael Feather

One of the simplest ways to introduce greenery to an office is using potted plants. In Tokyo, the office of tech company LivePerson cleverly uses plants as a way to break up the space. The office is located in a single room and rather than building walls or dividers, the company allows its staff to arrange the office as they please. All of the furniture and plants can be easily moved, which gives the organisation greater flexibility to rearrange the office as the team grows. 


Use natural colours and materials  

Image via  Breathe Architecture , photography by  Peter Clarke

Image via Breathe Architecture, photography by Peter Clarke

When international tech company Slack set up its new Melbourne office, they called upon Breathe Architecture to create an inviting workspace. The abundance of plants adds a sense of serenity to the space, which is complemented by a green and grey colour palette and the use of natural materialssuch as recycled timber. The effect is incredibly calming, with employees reporting that the workspace has a Zen feel to it. To ensure that the effects of the design are not disturbed, employees are required to take phone calls in meeting rooms, rather than at their desks in the open-plan work area. 


Embrace natural vistas

Image via  Inhabitat , photography by  Iwan Baan

Image via Inhabitat, photography by Iwan Baan

If your office has a view out to trees, parks, water or another natural setting, make this a focal point of its design. In Spain, architecture firm SelgasCano has fully embraced this design idea, building its office in the woods of Madrid. The glass wall takes full advantage of this natural setting, providing views out to the forest floor and allowing sunlight into the office. This design means that artificial lighting isn’t necessary during the day, which reduces the company’s power costs and makes the office more sustainable. 


Choose low-maintenance plants 

Image via  designboom , photography by  Peter Clark

Image via designboom, photography by Peter Clark

When it comes to choosing plants for an office, it’s wise to select hardy indoor plants that can handle the conditions of artificial lighting and ventilation. Birkenstock in Melbourne is a great example of this, where mother-in-law's tongue/snake plant is used throughout its new office. These plants are easy to care for and don’t like too much water, which means less upkeep is necessary. The repetition of this plant creates a calming effect and is a pleasant way to divide each workspace. 

Related reading: Biophilic design at work – why we need greener offices

We believe in giving credit where credit is due, so if at any time you see work that is improperly recognised, please send us a quick note & we’ll gladly update the information. Thanks for inspiring us!