Last year we ran a competition to win a garden makeover worth £5000, including paving and design by the talented Sue Hetherington from Courtingtons, an architectural and landscape design practice. The winners were Danielle and Dan from the Wirral who were looking for a classic but contemporary garden design that was low maintenance. We asked Danielle and Sue some questions about the process of how they created this dreamy outdoor space using our Kandla Grey Sandstone paving.

The Garden Design

"The garden had a huge amount of potential, but a number of challenges to overcome. Competition winner Danielle and her partner Dan were great entertainers and loved catering for family and friends. The existing garden had been well planted at one time by previous occupants but was at the stage where many of the existing shrubs were old and leggy, and there was a constant battle with Mare’s Tail! They had converted their garage into a fabulous bijou bar linking out into the garden but needed the outdoor space to complement it. Living in a period property but also appreciating the contemporary, the garden design needed to reflect both – harmonising with the traditional architecture of the house whilst embracing the more contemporary interior decor. 

The most immediate challenge to address was the height difference between the access out from the glazed doors at the rear of the property and the level of the garden below. The existing access out was narrow with a solid screen which blocked views of the garden from the interior, and steps which ran to the side of the landing. By widening the steps and taking them straight down into the garden we immediately opened up views and the journey from the house to the garden became much more flowing and inviting. A large paved seating area was created linking from the base of the steps right into the garden, creating an open terrace for entertaining with a raised bed to the boundary to incorporate the levels which sloped across the site. 

At the far end of the terrace a small formal lawn extended from a wide, shallow set of steps. The lawn was edged with paving laid flush with the grass to create a clean and contemporary look, give continuity from the terrace as well as facilitating easy mowing. From the boundary of the formal lawn a mown grass path led the eye to the far end of the garden bordered by an area of wildflower turf and fruit trees to increase the biodiversity of the site, something also important to Danielle. A feature bench and planters were suggested as a focal point to the end of the path and garden, where views were afforded back over the garden towards the house. "

Sue Hetherington, Courtingtons

garden design plan

Life in the New Garden

sunny grey sandstone patio leading to red brick house with double doors

1.       How did you feel when you got the call to say you’d won the competition? 
"When we received the call from Tom, I was totally shocked and ecstatic. We love socialising and entertaining in our home; therefore, the thought of a lovely garden was very exciting. As two amateur gardeners, we didn’t know where to start with tackling our large garden, so winning the competition really changed our lives. "

2.       How have you found the buying process with Westminster Stone?
Customer service with Westminster Stone has been amazing. They have always quickly responded to our queries and made the process stress free. 

Grey indian sandstone patio with pergola and dining set to the left.

3.       What benefit did you get from using a garden designer? 
Our garden is large and on different levels, therefore Dan and I struggled with visioning the garden and its potential. Sue was amazing, she helped put our ideas down on paper and came up with the perfect design for us. Despite having a large garden, we wanted the design to be as low maintenance as possible, this is something we feel Sue achieved.  

4.       What difficulties did you face getting a contractor to do the work? 

As we won the competition during the pandemic, our biggest challenge was contractor availability and the rising cost of materials. 

Grey sandstone patio, grey wooden shed left and steps leading to french doors right

5.       What made you choose Greyfell Sandstone Paving?
We wanted the garden to feel contemporary as well as still feel traditional. We chose Kandla Grey Sandstone Paving because we felt it ticked both boxes. The grey colour gave us that contemporary feel, whilst the hand-cut edge finish made the Indian Sandstone feel more natural and traditional. 

6.       Do you feel like it’s added value to your home?
Absolutely! Prior to our garden makeover, the garden felt big and overwhelming, now it feels stylish, contemporary, and more manageable. The garden is now a beautiful extension of our home. 

7. How did you use the 5K budget?

The 5K covered Sue's design of the garden which came to £1000, 70m2 of Kandla Grey Indian Sandstone Paving which came to £2310 and £1690 leftover went towards the construction costs.

Danielle and Dan's dream garden makeover is a testament to the transformative power of professional design and high-quality materials. Kandla Grey Sandstone paving provided the perfect blend of contemporary style and natural charm, complementing the existing property and creating a beautiful, functional outdoor space.

Shop the Look

Before & After

muddy garden being dug out
sunny garden with grey natural sandstone paving, red brick outbuilding to the right

About Courtingtons Architecture & Landscape

Courtingtons work nationwide with offices in Cheshire and Oxford. They are one of a few architectural and landscape design practices that believe in the benefit of designing the architecture of your project with the landscape. They are firm believers in the philosophy that homes and workplaces feel better when we have strong links from the inside to the outside. They are forward-thinking; embracing sustainability, using biophilic design principles and where possible taking people's well-being into account in every design.

Sue and Jon formed Courtingtons after 20 years of working together on projects. Sue has worked for a number of renowned and respected landscape industry companies designing paving displays, exhibitions and product ranges, whilst continuing to expand her client base with many high-end domestic garden and commercial landscape design projects nationwide.

grey indian sandstone patio over 2 levels surrounded by potted plants
Kandla Grey Indian Sandstone Paving
black and white portrait of author

About the Author

Sian McHugh

'Sian has been working with us at Westminster Stone for over 5 years and has developed expertise in garden design and landscaping. Her passion for nature extends to tending her own garden, teaching yoga and hiking during her free time.'