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A passion for designing unique outdoor spaces

A passion for designing unique outdoor spaces

James McLean is fulfilling a long-term goal of devoting his professional life to his passion creating outdoor spaces his clients can enjoy for years to come. His practical approach is to listen to any ideas his clients favour and to ask them about their life-style, as this impacts hugely on design decisions.

He and wife Kylie spent time overseas with the couple picking up work in order to travel ending up in Australia where James had work undertaking landscaping for large subdivision projects. Upon returning the couple initially worked in Cambridge and have now settled at Purua near Whangarei with Kylie successfully operating her parents dairy farm.

James says the landscape design company is just really starting to kick up in terms of business and when Business North spoke with James he had recently presented the company at the Northland home and Lifestyle Expo.“In the early days of the business it took some time to find a way into the landscaping sector and having Andrea Schmid, with the skills and experience she has, now working with me has impacted very positively on the future,” says James.

He says that one of the key elements in designing outdoor spaces is to work in closely with clients.“Sometimes they don’t have many ideas, but I begin by presenting them with some options and you soon start to see what design features seem to appeal, just from their reactions. It’s a good collaborative way to work and I think produces the best results.”

Developing a landscape that can evolve in time as clients go through various stages in their lives is also critical. James is always looking at the bigger long-term picture when designing for outdoor living.One lovely backyard development for an architect/interior designing couple has resulted in a engaging and visually dynamic space.

The project called Suburban Holiday involved transforming a relatively small space into a functional, clean lined contemporary space.“They wanted a developed space they could easily access, with areas to enjoy sitting in, raised vegetable gardens and an easy flow from the home’s back deck.”

The section has been divided into three key spaces. An old shed was replaced with a small studio and office space that looks out on the garden. The paved courtyard is the main feature. Pavers are also used around the raised planters to create visual continuity.

A stand-out element are the gabion baskets capped with red gum slat providing a variety of seating options and creating structure around the courtyard.“At night the Halcyon LED strip lighting tucked under the seating and on the lower side of the raised garden structure create an amazing effect at night. It’s possible to change the colours to capture and reflect different moods.”

A passion for designing unique outdoor spaces

Developing a landscape that can evolve in time as clients go through various stages in their lives is critical.

James says he has a number of clients who are quite cautious when it comes to doing landscaping and he’s mindful to ensure the budget is respected and that his clients get the best possible environment to enjoy.“I am a people pleaser. It’s just in my nature to want to create a space that brings happiness to my clients.

“Sometimes it’s a case of finding a solution, or the middle ground when clients share their thoughts regarding what they want and it is always a journey.”James engages with a number of established landscape contractors, each one bringing their own unique skills and strengths to a project.

He’s happy with how the business is evolving and credits his success to the values and morals he lives by and for maintaining a good work and family life balance. And with three young children life is very busy in the McLean household. “We have preschoolers John and Chloe and baby Olivia so family is very important to us and with Kylie pursuing her passion for dairy farming I feel very blessed.”

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