A healing haven, the heart of this family’s home 

When Annabel was diagnosed with breast cancer at the height of the pandemic in late 2020, it felt like her world was crumbling.

But in her backyard, a recently installed garden studio became a haven for her healing.

“It has brought us a lot of joy. Its the best possible use of our back garden.” 

Outdoor entertaining area with garden studio in background

Painting a garden studio dream

Initially, with two older teenage daughters and a passion for painting that was confined to the kitchen counter, Annabel recognised her family was outgrowing their home.

Seeking extra space for her art and to give her girls an outdoor hangout, Annabel decided a backyard studio could provide the perfect multipurpose addition.

“We thought it would be a good idea to have a cabana at the back of the garden for a teenager retreat and a painting studio for me,” she tells us. 

A shift in life and plans

It was an accidental encounter during a shopping trip that led her to Greenspan, passing a Display Centre on her way to Birkenhead Point, Sydney. Annabel recalls, “When I came home, I said to my husband, ‘I think I have found what we need.’” 

Purchased and installed at the start of 2020, the garden studio could not have come at a better time.

As the world shifted to lockdowns and remote working, the Melwood was an unexpected saving grace, taking on an additional purpose as a quiet home office for Annabel’s husband.

“He set up his little desk in the cabana…overlooking the pool and the flowers…happy as Larry,” she says. 

How this garden studio helped heal a shock diagnosis

As 2020 rolled on, this multipurpose teenage retreat/ art studio/ home office proved invaluable. Essential work-from-home space, it also provided much-needed solace when being cooped up together got too much, and a change of scene from the same four walls for some quality family time. 

And then the shock cancer diagnosis. 

For Annabel, the studio became a haven and a refuge from her health battles. “During all the chemo and radiation process, it was really good to go into the cabana and paint,” she shares, adding, “It was a very healing and peaceful environment”.

Her relaxing hobby was a welcome distraction from her gruelling treatment, with the studio providing solace on her dark days. 

Now for something different

A year later we caught up with Annabel, now cancer-free, and the garden studio is still the heart of the home.

Now taken over by Annabel’s two young adult daughters, the private studio provides them with some independent hangout space and the ability to come and go as they please without disturbing the household.

“If they want to have a bit of a party in the backyard and play games until 1am, they can go back via the side lane, so they don’t have to come through the house,” Annabel states. 

By day, it’s a hub of activity, especially with a pool close by! “In summer, those doors are always open,” Annabel confirms, “When we have lots of kids coming over for pool parties, they use the deck to sit down to eat.” 

The heart of the home and garden

It’s not just the warmer months that see the garden studio well used. “It heats up very quickly. We’ve added reverse cycle air conditioning.” Annabel tells us. It’s a space the whole family can enjoy all year round and continues to unite them in quality time together. “We project films onto the ceiling, and the kids are on the sofa watching,” she says, “It has brought us a lot of joy.” 

Annabel’s Melwood has also inspired the garden’s broader landscaping to bring the whole backyard look together.

“We love the cedar cladding,” she tells us, which is why she has used the same cladding in the barbecue and sitting area. “It’s classy. I’m very proud. It’s the best possible use of our back garden,” enthuses Annabel! 

Life can be tough but a Melwood is easy

While life after installation has had its tough times, the process for bringing the Melwood garden room into being was an easy one.

“Within one day, we had everything we wanted,” Annabel confirms, “It’s an easy and affordable way to transform your backyard. There are no hidden costs. You know exactly what you’re going to get. It’s extremely good quality”. 

And what they got was a light-filled Melwood Mod 20, with an upgrade to the cedar cladding that Annabel loves so much.

This classic weatherboard look has been painted a soft grey to complement and enhance the white windows and doors. Two sets of double doors open up onto a modern tiered deck. Inside, the space has been configured to incorporate two large lounges for a more than comfortable relaxation zone.

And of course, a dedicated area for Annabel’s painting passion and any working-from-home needs has been preserved! 

A garden studio blessing

While COVID and then breast cancer derailed normal life, Annabel’s garden retreat provided serenity when she needed it most. This special place continues to unite, giving both parents and teens their own slice of space while allowing them to come together for family time.

Considering the health journey that has been overcome and the versatility of this studio, it comes as no surprise that Annabel says, “We are feeling so lucky to have a Mod 20 cabana. Home office, painting studio and teenager retreat, it has been a blessing.” Annabel sums up. 


Annabel’s Melwood is a Mod 20 measuring 6.3m x 3.2m with a deck measuring 6.3m x 1.3m. 

It features a cedar cladding upgrade and Annabel further personalised her design with additional timber double doors and sidelights, aluminium windows in “White” and Colorbond® roofing in “Woodland Grey”. 

All measurements are approximate. 


Garden studio from side, surrounded by shrubs

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