We’ve seen it with some unfortunate hair styles. Lots of attention was paid to the front while the back of the head had seen better days. Historically, the same has been true about our yards. The main focus was on street-side curb appeal in the form of landscaping, front doors, flower pots, mailboxes and welcome mats. Meanwhile, the back yard received far less attention…maybe a concrete slab patio with a table, four chairs and an umbrella.
Well the times are definitely changing. Back yards are quickly becoming front and center when it comes to entertaining. And the allure carries through three—occasionally four—seasons. Covered areas protect us from the sun and rain, while fire features invite us outdoors in the evenings and during cooler weather. Take a look at how five design teams have transformed underused outdoor spaces into inviting, multi-faceted, open-air retreats.
Just after purchasing this home, the owners discovered how noisy it was on the patio due to the proximity of a main road. We designed and built a five-foot-high stone wall which provides privacy and serves as a noise barrier. An outdoor kitchen and fire features add function and flair, while a custom in-ground hot tub and waterfalls provide soft background noise and provide a tranquil feel to what was once an uncomfortable, noisy space.
-Ben Bayer, Design/Sales, Site Group Inc.
Photos by Daniel Feldkamp
Covered and open
An abundance of natural light and great air flow were at the top of the list for homeowners who wanted to create a space to relax and entertain. This pavilion gave them the perfect solution. It provides shelter, but three wide-open sides allow for plenty of daylight and ventilation. An outdoor kitchen keeps the activity outside, along with an addition to the home which offers a nifty bar area that serves both indoor and outdoor guests.
-Stephen Dempsey, Sales manager/design consultant, Dave Fox Design-Build Remodelers
Photos courtesy of Dave Fox Design-Build Remodelers
Making the grade
Due to its steep grade, this home’s original back yard was not especially usable for family activities or entertaining. The homeowners wanted to transform this area into a space where they could enjoy outdoor meals and evenings with friends. After smoothing out the grade, we created a multi-level—and multifunctional—patio space complete with a firepit and lounge area on the lower level, and a barbecue and dining area off the first floor.
-Dashaun Mulders, architect Brandon Theis, co-designer, Third Space Builders
Photos by Prestige Pro Photo
Go with the glow
These homeowners wanted to replace a dilapidated deck and uneven paver patio with an updated outdoor living space. We designed a two-level deck—including a covered section for shelter—and a concrete paver patio to accommodate an above ground spa. Perimeter retaining walls provide additional seating. New landscaping including evergreen screening—landscape lighting, and festoon lighting add greenery and glow. As a finishing touch, we helped outfit the space with new furnishings to add to the inviting mood.
-Josh Eastlake, landscape architect; Missy Werbrich, interior designer furniture and accessories, Werbrich’s Landscaping;
Photos by Ross Van Pelt
With an almost “interior” feel this outdoor room serves as an expansive extension to this two-story home. Separate dining and lounging areas feel cozy thanks to exposed brick and a fireplace wall. Covered in stone, the wall provides privacy and adds a rustic touch. Skylights allow natural light to penetrate the space, as well as brighten up adjacent interior rooms. The pitched roof was carefully designed to allow for ample ceiling height, while not obstructing views from the bedrooms upstairs.
-Bob Voigt, designer, Neal’s Design Remodel
Photos by Tiffany Schulz
Private and protected
A smooth transition from the house and low-maintenance materials were the top priorities for homeowners wanting an outdoor living area where they could entertain and relax. We designed this space to meet their needs; using composite decking and a pergola with a motorized louvered aluminum roof. These covered and open areas allow guests to choose between sun and shade while screening panels provide the desired level of privacy.
-Jason Schell, design and installation, Custom Outdoor Structures
Article by Karen Bradner
Article originally appeared in May 2023