Whether you want to remodel or simply redecorate, when it comes to creating an outdoor space, it’s important to think beyond the typical to achieve amazing.
Michael Sauri, an award-winning Clarendon-based architect with TriVistaUSA, transformed a poorly graded Arlington backyard into a luxurious hidden patio.
Sauri said the ultramodern house, built in the 1990s, sits on a lot that slopes down from the street at a nearly 45-degree angle. Most people would write off such an awkward backyard as unusable.
Instead, Sauri used the slope to add drama to a deck/patio combo.
“On the left side of the house was a large wooden parking pad, 20 feet long and 25 feet wide, with empty, unused space beneath it. The pad is supported by weather-worn wooden piers set in concrete and resembles an old wooden dock out of water,” Sauri said.
TrivistaUSA dug out the steeply sloped backyard and installed a two-tiered retaining wall under the parking deck. The result is a stunning flagstone patio, perfect for entertaining. “We built flagstone steps into the hill, running down one side of the parking deck to allow access to the new patio and gravel-floored storage space underneath the deck. As part of the renovation, we opened the existing brick wall of the house to insert a full glass door from the second-floor office out to the patio space. And we installed fans under the deck to keep mosquitoes away. This renovation made the space beneath the parking deck usable.”
When considering a remodel, Sauri suggests focusing on lifestyle, likes and dislikes. “How do you feel about bugs? This can determine whether you're talking about a deck or a screened-in porch or perhaps a porch with a roof for year-round outdoor living,” said Sauri.
Don't forget about the sun. “An east-facing deck can catch the morning light,” he said. “A west-facing deck might require an awning to protect you from the intense afternoon heat.”
It is important to also consider what type of access you want to the kitchen. “All of these considerations affect the plan, aesthetic and budget for your outdoor space,” Sauri said.
When redecorating an outdoor space, Shanon Munn, of McLean-based Ambi Design Studio, suggests using interior-styled furniture.
Munn and her colleague, Amanda Welch, designed a deck outside the master bedroom at the Washington D.C. Design House. The deck was long and narrow so they used bold, large pieces to make the space feel like a living room.
They purposely chose accessories and products not usually associated with exterior spaces — including artwork, rugs, mirrors and light fixtures.
For artwork, she hung photos of ivy growing. “I love the idea of ivy growing on brick,” Munn said. Of course, she didn't have time to grow actual ivy. So, she walked through Georgetown with her photographer to take pictures of ivy growing.
Instead of an awning, Munn draped outdoor fabric over custom-made iron support poles. “I needed something to soften the space,” Munn said. “It’s not really an entertaining space because it’s off the master bedroom. But you could entertain if you wanted to.”