Join us for another instalment of Shaw Landscape Group’s ‘Scape’ Stories. Back for a third edition, we take you behind the scenes of project ‘Magnolias’ – an outdated 1980’s charmer, come contemporary ‘highlands’ haven. 


Project: ‘Magnolias’
Location: Bunadanoon, Southern Highlands
Council: Wingecarribee Local Government Area
Budget: $60,000

A private 808m² corner block setback from the street overlooking semi-rural bushland. Lethargic, outdated with little to no curb appeal, this ‘untouched’ 1980’s cottage home, stuck in a historic time-warp, was in desperate need of a modern makeover.

Out-dated 1980s cottage home in Bunadanoon before renovation

State of Play:

  • ‘Untouched’ and outdated 1980s home
  • Quiet established street on the edge of town
  • Tired and bland exterior 
  • Zero curb appeal 
  • No driveway or distinctive front entry
  • No dedicated entertaining or outdoor seating area
  • No back garden 
  • Unusable and narrow old green concrete verandah
  • No indoor/outdoor flow


Great access to the property with a vacant block to the left side. Project completed during a mild winter leading into Spring.


Transform Ella streets ‘ugly duckling’ into a contemporary cottage to increase the overall home value. Create an easy access outdoor area which flowed seamlessly from the living and dining areas. Construct country-style fencing to enhance visual appeal and define the property boundary. Install a gravel driveway and parking area. Plant mature trees and shrubs to create an instant ‘wow’ factor.


One of the biggest reasons that the property had no curb appeal was due to its yellow brick and painted facade. The property also had no formal entrance and the services, such as air conditioning, gas and electricity, were all located on the front of the house. To overcome this, the services were relocated to the side of the house, a new recycled brick planter was built and formal stairs to the front verandah were installed. 

Landscaping renovation 1980s property

Newly constructed recycled brick planter box to the front of cottage garden makeover

Recycled brick planter box and garden beds

Recycled brick garden planter landscape makeover

Thoughtful planting of Magnolia trees which later inspired the properties name, alongside Buxus balls, Lavender and Liriope bring colour and texture to the space. The recycled brick planter also ties in nicely with the newly installed James Hardie white Axon cladding to create a contemporary feel.

Magnolias property landscaping
Landscaping renovation 1980s propertyLandscape renovation front garden after

Newly installed french doors to the living and dining areas helped to create the perfect indoor outdoor flow. A sun drenched north facing merbau deck with boardwalk now connects both areas, creating an inviting entertaining space to unwind and relax. Merbau stairs lead down to the freshly turfed front garden showcasing a large, established deciduous tree.

Drag arrow to reveal before and afterNew merbau deck installation

As the house had no driveway or fencing, this was an important aspect of the project. To keep with the modern country feel, hardwood timber post and rail fencing was installed to three sides and a speckled white gravel driveway now creates an impressive entry to the front of the property. Existing Camellias and Maples are a backdrop to the newly installed gardens that frame this space.

Before landscape makeover BundanoonPost and rail fence at front garden landscape renovation modern cottage
New lawn front garden installation
post and rail fence new landscaping

Landscape Materials Used

Plant/Turf List

  • Magnolia little gem
  • Magnolia soulangeana
  • Buxus Japonica balls
  • Kikuyu turf
  • Lavenders 
  • Dichondra silver falls
  • Gardenias
  • Sweet Viburnum 


With a little gumption, savvy upgrades and carefully planned landscaping, it’s easy to see how a property can turn from ordinary to extraordinary! Now bursting with curb appeal, this once out-dated 1980’s charmer has transformed into a stylish cottage home.