A gracious backyard introduces a California family to the joys of alfresco living. "It's like an old-fashioned summer house," says Angie Lanigan, describing her family's new outdoor pavilion. "Once we add a kitchen, we'll probably live out here most of the year."
The homeowners already use their outdoor pavilion year-round, thanks to its inviting design and San Diego's mild climate. Essentially a great-room for the great outdoors, the 22x28-foot pavilion features a dining nook, a sunken spa, and a seating area complete with a fireplace and a TV. The finishing touch, Angie says, will be a deluxe outdoor kitchen that they expect to add when their budget allows. "It'll even have a dishwasher," she says. Because the Lanigans requested a master plan before building the pavilion, all necessary outlets, gas hook-ups, and plumbing lines for the kitchen are in place and ready to go.
Planning is the key to maximizing a property's potential, says landscape architect David Reed. He not only designed the pavilion, but he also created a master plan for the entire yard. The landscape design plan, intended to be installed in phases, includes everything from a future fountain in the rose garden to a swimming pool. Understanding the big picture ensures that all pieces are ideally positioned and that a cohesive look will be the result. The Lanigans' detached garage, for instance, now wears a white trellis that complements the rose arbor, and a new white gate spanning the driveway repeats design elements from the pavilion's pergola and railing.
Even "unfinished," the pavilion is an irresistible destination. Angie and her husband, Brian, often relax there with their daughters, Keeley (5) and Alexis (2). Several evenings a month, the family finds themselves building a fire and entertaining friends in their outdoor room. Brian, a dedicated surfer, soaks in the spa almost every night, and Angie often joins him. (The spa offers a view of the fire.) On Saturdays, Keeley and Alexis watch the outdoor TV with Brian while Angie, an avid gardener, tends flowers nearby. But when she looks up, it's rarely a cartoon on-screen. "The girls really like Brian's surfing videos," she says with a smile.
A pavilion, being built in phases, with a spa and an entertainment center transforms a ho-hum backyard into an ideal living space.
What It Took
Building a 1-foot-high perimeter of concrete blocks and footings, filling it with compacted soil, and topping it with a concrete pad.
Creating a recessed area, essentially a walled pit that has a concrete floor, to hold a portable spa.
Installing gas, electrical, and plumbing hook-ups for a future outdoor kitchen.
Constructing a wood-burning fireplace that includes a weatherproof cabinet for an outdoor TV.
Adding bluestone paving, a railing, an arbor, and a gazebo.