With its vibrant blooms and natural stone accents, this garden getaway which boasts a pavilion, a patio and exquisite plantings, was envisioned as an open-air oasis for novelist Katrina Kittle and her partner, Jason Jones.
“We love this outdoor space so much, Kittle says. “In warm months, it truly is my outdoor office in the morning for working on my novels. It really is my happy place. When we both get home at the end of the day in the summer, the pavilion is where we catch up and talk about our days; it’s the perfect separation from the workday and for easing into relaxing.”
Kittle and Jones worked on the project with Dave Swearingen, a landscape architect with The Site Group in New Carlisle.
“There was really nothing in the backyard before we started this project, just the deck, Swearingen says. “The couple’s vision was to have an outdoor space that was covered. They wanted to expand their patio and entertaining area and didn’t have a lot of need for yard space.”
The home itself is a traditional-style structure that was built in 1993 and purchased in 2009, with 3,300 square feet of space, four bedrooms and 2–½ bathrooms. The roof line of the outdoor pavilion is an extension of the home’s high windows, and Swearingen designed the new exterior structures around that framework.
“They have nice, big windows, and they wanted to look out on their back yard,” Swearingen says. “They have a Tudor–style home with stucco board and rough timber framing, so we were able to pull those into the outdoor space as well.”
Subtle splashes of color
To incorporate these looks, Swearingen used pavers and natural stone—specifically Banas stone in lavender. “I thought it was a really nice combination of color because their house has a little bit of a yellow tint to it and this stone has a lavender tint,” Swearingen says. “We just used a standard paver for a lot of the sidewalks, but as it opens up and certain spaces become more important, we used the natural stone in the entertaining spaces as highlights. It’s just a way of sort of using both materials—the pavers as well as the natural stone—to upgrade the space without totally breaking the budget.”
The write stuff
“I just get this picture of Katrina, being a writer and being out in that space,” Swearingen says. “I picture her using that area to sort of get a different perspective and get inspired in a different way.” And she does get inspired, to write and to garden.
She dedicated a large stretch of yard to pollinators full of plants to attract bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds, like daisies, coneflowers, tiger lilies, peonies, sedum, cosmos, hydrangea, coreopsis, Veronica, hyssop, primrose, phlox, bee balm, liatris and butterfly bush, as well as annuals like geraniums and snapdragons.
“I get a lot of great ideas while I’m mindlessly working away with my hands out there,” Kittle says. “I always joke that I grow a lot more than plants out in this yard.”
Plenty of outdoor options
There is also a large sitting area with an eight-seat table for outdoor dinners. The couple has used the space to host brunches, Fourth of July celebrations, two family reunion cookouts, a Mother’s Day cookout, and smaller gatherings—like writers’ groups— around the fire pit.
“We wanted the space to be large enough so we could do pretty much anything with it,” says Jones, who owns a residential and commercial window tinting business and enjoys the tranquility of the backyard after work. “If we have a bunch of friends over, we can have dinner out there, so it’s kind of like a living room at the same time.”
There is also an abundance of electrical outlets, including one up high in the pavilion for a mounted TV screen.
“The backyard definitely has enough electricity so it doesn’t matter what we want to do, there is power galore. It’s just a multi-use area,” Jones says. “If Katrina wants to go out there for writing, it can be a great space for her. She has plenty of room to sprawl out and she has the whole back yard to look out on. And, over time, as the cherry and maple trees mature, they’ll kind of grow up and over the walkway to create a canopy. It’s just beautiful.”
The entire project was a collaborative undertaking, and both parties were equally pleased with the result.
“Overall, I was really happy with the way it turned out. When we have an indoor space in our homes, we have floors, walls and ceilings. The ceiling does create an element of the space, and the openness or grandeur can be affected by that ceiling,” Swearingen says. “So often, outside, we don’t put ceilings up. But there’s a certain intimacy developed inside a room outside when you have a ceiling. You can sit out there in the hot sun or the rain even. It’s a getaway in their own backyard.”
Resources: Landscape architect: Dave Swearingen, The Site Group Electrical work: Leon Garber Decking boards: Timber Tech from Requarth Lumber in Dayton
Published July 2020 Cincinnati, Dayton and Columbus
Photos by Daniel Feldkamp