Becki and Kieron Ash’s Mediterranean-inspired courtyard is the perfect setting for quality family time.

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Having a decent amount of outside space was paramount when Becki and Kieron Ash were looking to buy a property in 2006. Eventually, they found a house in south-west London with plenty of potential as well as a generous garden – but a lot of work was required to transform both elements into the couple’s dream home.

‘We bought the property from an elderly couple and nothing was really to our taste, especially the exterior,’ explains Becki. ‘The garden was crammed with lots of plants and shrubs, and there wasn’t much of a lawn or any space to entertain. Our plan was to use the garden all year round, but we had to put this on hold because the house needed a great deal of attention first.’

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Having stretched their budget to afford the initial purchase and renovation work, as well as setting up their own business that year, the garden makeover seemed a long way off. ‘There was a wooden studio at the back of the plot, which was a huge bonus: we were able to run our business from there while we did the interiors and the rear extension,’ says Becki.

The building work was completed by spring 2014, and the couple were finally able to take a hands-on approach to the exterior space. ‘Kieron trained as a carpenter and set designer, so he can turn his hand to anything,’ Becki explains. ‘He decided do most of the work himself, with help from his dad and a few friends.’ Saving money on labour allowed the pair to invest more of their budget in high-quality products and materials.

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For the modern space they had in mind, the right paving was key. ‘We were going to spend quite a bit on stone, so we researched products carefully,’ says Becki. They opted for Natural Paving’s pumice sandstone flags, with matching step pieces for the five-stair flight located by the extension. In contrast, they used dark grey stones for the smaller patio area outside the studio.

All in all, the project took six months to complete and was finished by early autumn. Kieron’s skills were invaluable: he did everything from building walls to turfing a lawn, not forgetting laying paving, hauling and spreading 10 tonnes of topsoil and painting the studio. ‘We haven’t bought any new plants or trees,’ says Becki. ‘We’ve just kept or moved the ones we liked, such as the two mature palms at the edge of the patio,’

With everything now finished, the couple can relax and enjoy their garden. ‘It’s lovely to have friends over or cook up a storm with our pizza oven, and the kids absolutely love eating outdoors,’ says Becki.

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Credit: Colin Poole

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