The Real Dads of Melbourne's Backyard Makeover

Michael and Jarrad (aka The Real Dads of Melbourne) share a refreshingly candid view on life, love and raising their son to a legion of Instagram followers. They are a couple with a zest for life, who work hard to achieve their goals and they also have such complementary skills - Jarrad having a designer's eye and Michael with building skills, gives them the advantage to visually and practically create a home that ticks all the boxes.

Wanting to revamp their newly purchased holiday home on the Mornington Peninsula, MINT were thrilled to discuss their visions for a pool and entertainers delight space.

Here's a little Q & A with Jarrad and Michael to see how they went about the landscape design process.

Hamptons arbour pergola near pool
If we had have done it ourselves, it would have been a generic pool area with no soul. Our vision was to have an area of decking (but didn’t want the maintenance), and to create a vista that can be enjoyed from looking outside the picture windows of the living spaces.Jarrad Duggan-Tierney
Acacia tree real dads of melbourne by MINT landscape and pool design in Rye, Victoria

Can you tell us a bit about what you're doing with your beachside holiday home?

When we set out to look for a holiday house our prerequisites for all real estate agents who were looking for us was ‘It needs room for a trampoline and a pool’. From the get-go we had planned on putting the house on the rental market over the Dec-Jan school holidays, and homes with a pool and a safe area for the kids to play is what appeals to us when we are looking to holiday. Therefore, we are transforming our side yard into a BBQ area/pool deck overlooking a fully tiled solar and gas heated pool that can be used all year round. We have fenced and landscaped our other yard to rehome the trampoline creating two zones for ours and other families to enjoy.

What made you engage a designer for your landscape? Why did you choose MINT Design?

We have renovated a few homes prior to this one but have never had a pool. Our beach house has a central yard at the core of the home comprised of the main living areas, bedroom, and media room. The yard space isn’t enormous, so we knew we’d have to seek help to create interest, make the most of the area and complement the existing home. We commenced our search for a Landscape Designer and were instantly drawn to the aesthetic and quality that MINT Design capture. We arranged a meeting with Darin who encouraged us to have a list of must haves, nice to haves, and of course a budget. From our first meeting Darin was on the same page, he understood our brief and designed a space not only that looks incredible, but it’s also practical, using materials that were within budget, and design ideas that take the space to the next level.

Seeing the completed design for the first time was awesome. Darin and his team had managed to capture a look that was contemporary yet classic, a balance of beach and timeless design that will look fantastic for years to come. Jarrad Duggan-Tierney

What did you most want to achieve from the design?

We wanted to enjoy the pool area from inside and outside. Being a rectangular yard, it was easy for us to envisage a paved area with a pool up one end, and a BBQ area up the other end, but we knew we didn’t have the expertise to make the most of the space. If we had have done it ourselves, it would have been a generic pool area with no soul. Our vision was to have an area of decking (but didn’t want the maintenance), and to create a vista that can be enjoyed from looking outside the picture windows of the living spaces.

What's your favourite part of the design?

It’s hard to pick a favourite part of the design as we love everything, but one is the composite decking area (with built-in BBQ) that steps down into the pool area and onto the large Marble pavers. The different heights and contrast in materials and texture gives warmth and creates zonal outdoor spaces.

Why was a pool on your wish list?

We have always wanted to have a pool, especially one that can be heated to enjoy most of the year. To us, the pool area is just as important as the pool. Somewhere for the kids to safely play, and an area welcoming for the adults to hang out and entertain whilst keeping an eye on the kids. Our pool area will be the heart of the home and we can’t wait to enjoy it with family and friends.

Towel besides pool at the Real Dads of Melbourne's holiday home in Rye Victoria
Hamptons style pool and garden Pergola over pool Hamptons Garden Strathmore Melbourne Landscape Design
Hanging egg chair at holiday home in Mornington Peninsula. New landscape design.
Stylish pot plant cluster at Real Dads of Melbourne's holiday home

Is it important for you to use the outdoor space year-round?

Absolutely it is, that’s why we have upgraded the heating beyond just solar and included the outdoor BBQ/kitchen on our must have list. Whilst summer on the Peninsula is so much fun, it’s also busy. To be able to enjoy our outdoor space during the quieter months means we have a destination to look forward to no matter what season it is.

Were there any unexpected challenges that came up during the design phase?

To be honest no. We knew our biggest issue would be choosing materials, (with so much choice out there), we asked MINT to only present a couple of options. They understood our concept, they visited the site to ensure the design complemented the existing building, and they made the process simple.

What did you enjoy most about the whole design process?

Seeing the completed design for the first time was awesome. Darin and his team had managed to capture a look that was contemporary yet classic, a balance of beach and timeless design that will look fantastic for years to come. Another thing that was enjoyable was the communication. Whenever we engage a business, the very first thing we look for is excellent communication.

water spouts in pool for Real Dads of Melbourne holiday house in Mornington Peninsula

It’s great having a fantastic product, but if you can’t be honest or have open discussion if things go wrong then it’s not the business for us. The communication from Darin throughout the design process exceeded our expectations.

I know you spent some time on selecting the right paint colour for the house. What colours did you end up using in the courtyard? Why did you choose those colours?

Paint colour is so important, but one thing we have learned during this process is to choose a palate, make a mood board and stick with your decision. Again, we struggle with choice and everyone’s opinion on what grey is a nicer grey. In the end (after too many sample pots) we went with Tranquil Retreat for the external walls of the pool area, Timeless Grey for the rest of the house with Lexicon Quarter white for fascia and trims, and Monument for gutters and fences. We still weren’t 100% until we had the old brown roof tiles re-sprayed in Dark Charcoal, now everything is finished it ties in very well……. We think :P

We love your outdoor furniture selection. What drew you to that particular dining table?

This is still on our ‘Nice to have List’. Another aspect of the design we love is a curved wall behind the outdoor kitchen, it softens the space and adds an element of interest. The table introduces a similar feel and links the design to reduce the hard edges. It still seats the same amount of people, so we haven’t compromised on practicality either.

Built n BBQ area around outdoor entertaining area
Steel powder coated water spouts in pool for real dads of Melbourne Holiday Home
Hanging egg chair in corner of outdoor garden near pool
Drinks with Globe west furniture poolside at holiday home

What advice would you give to someone looking to upgrade their garden?

Do your research on the desired look that you want to achieve and contact a designer that resonates with you. We had an idea about what we liked, however without engaging a professional, we would not be ending up with the finished product that MINT have designed for us. In fact, we would probably have ended up spending more time and money procrastinating on the multitude of materials and still be waiting for a pool next year.

You both seem very hands on with selecting materials and finishes as well as getting your hands dirty around the house. Is this something you enjoy doing?

We both enjoy being part of the process and don’t mind pitching in. It’s very rewarding when you’re working with great people to see a project come together.

You can find the hilarious, honest and loving musings of The Real Dads of Melbourne on Instagram. We thank them for their time for this interview and for the pleasure of working with them on this project.

Globe West Outdoor furniture
House with pool fence and crystal blue water pool
Potted plant cluster in white with herbs
BBQ built in
Pool paving with water and an orange in view