Open-Air Entertaining

Outdoor retreat keeps formality in balance with festivity

Outdoor living is taken to a new level by Bexley residents, Ron Negron and Mike Gritzmacher, who transformed their back yard from an empty expanse of lawn into a unique en plein air retreat.

Describing their home as a blend of French Eclectic and Colonial Revival, Ron notes that they wanted to create three separate exterior areas, each defined by its unique function, but blended with the home’s distinctive style.

“We were attracted to designs with a formal feel that would be in keeping with the classic symmetry of our home, but at the same time would reflect the freedom of its eclecticism, too,” notes Ron. “Above all, we wanted to have designated spaces for living, playing and relaxing,” he adds.

A flow to the fountain

The centerpiece of the design is a formal allée that extends from the couple’s off-the-kitchen patio to the rear of the property. A blue flagstone stepper walkway, flanked on either side by a row of cumulus serviceberry, interspersed with Annabelle hydrangea shrubs, creates a relaxing vista. The eye is led to the focal point of the area—a decorative metal fountain, graced by a trio of flowering Winter King Hawthorns.

The formality of the allée is balanced on either side by more playful areas. A swimming pool and deck extends from the patio to the north side, while an open lawn to the south gives their young daughter, Reagan, plenty of space to romp with the family’s two dogs.

David Peabody, president of Peabody Landscape Group, who turned Ron and Mike’s preliminary design ideas into a site layout with drawings and specifications, as well as planting and hardscape plans, supervised installation of the overall project. “More than 150 trees and shrubs, including dozens of nearly 10-foot-high arborvitae that soften the fenced perimeter of the property, create a private, serene retreat,” notes Peabody.

“Mike and I enjoy entertaining family and friends,” says Ron, in explaining why it was important to have several seating areas, in addition to the dining table on the patio. “Mike’s extraordinary eye for detail in planting and placing pots of colorful annuals and selecting festive tableware, really adds an element of fun to the restful green and white backdrop we’ve created,” Ron adds.

Served with a dip

Guests particularly enjoy the heated, salt-water pool, which is enclosed by a decorative wrought-iron fence that provides interest, as well as safety for their daughter and the children of their visitors. Canvas table umbrellas, as well as a four-pillar pergola, which matches an additional pergola on the adjacent patio, provide poolside shade.

Mike says that the three outdoor spaces allow the family to host multi-generational gatherings, where adults of all ages—and their children—can pursue a variety of activities while enjoying being together.

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