Before and After Makeover: Family-Friendly Backyard
It's easy to see how this California backyard became the center of family life. The renovated space features a sweeping rear patio with an entire suite of outdoor rooms that the whole family can enjoy together, including a dining area, a family room with a fireplace, and a full-service kitchen complete with a snack bar, dishwasher, fridge, and wood-burning pizza oven.
The homeowners wanted outdoor rooms that reflected a California vibe--cool, casual, and organic--just like the rooms on the inside of their house. The patio was made of tumbled-concrete pavers that echo the colors of a sandy beach. The white arbor that shelters the dining area matches the home's trim while subtly suggesting whitecapped surf. Sandstone covers the base of the arbor's pillars and reappears on the fireplace, pizza oven, and a series of raised planters.
A glass jar filled with seashells and sand is an inexpensive and eye-catching centerpiece for the dining table, and it reinforces the "California cool" vibe of the backyard.
Entertaining Made Easy
The spacious patio makes entertaining large gatherings of family and friends easy. Outdoor lighting also plays a vital role in keeping the party going well into the night. Downlights in the arbor are grouped by zone and fitted with dimmers, defining rooms within rooms. Plantings, stone lanterns, and a fountain at the yard's edge are softly lit, as well.
Outdoor Family Room
A massive fireplace with a raised hearth anchors the outdoor family room, creating a perfect spot for the family to unwind after a long day of work and play. The sheltering arbor's well-trimmed beams and perpendicular slats mimic a coffered ceiling.
In keeping with the California theme of the backyard, the homeowners chose a local landscape artist to create a unique mural for the fireplace. The mantel is a perfect place for a display of starfish.
The full-service kitchen complete with a snack bar, dishwasher, fridge, and wood-burning pizza oven make it easy for the family to dine outdoors any night of the week.
The wood-burning pizza oven is the family's favorite feature in the backyard. The oven can cook a perfect pizza in 3-4 minutes. Its brick-lined, domed cavity reaches 700-900 degrees, quickly crisping a crust without drying out the toppings. The oven is ideal for pizza, but it can also turn out bread, roasted veggies, meats, and more.
Glass lanterns create a soft glow around the outdoor kitchen after the sun goes down.
The unusual shape of the backyard--a triangle with two corners lopped off--created a challenge when it came time to design the outdoor kitchen. To prevent the small kitchen area from feeling cramped, the granite snack bar was positioned at dining-table height. The kitchen's work area is recessed two steps below the surrounding patio--another space-expanding trick that helps keep clutter on the countertops out of sight.
Outdoor Game Room
The game pavilion, a breezy room at the yard's edge, houses a weatherproof pool table and a daybed. Curtains can be drawn to protect the pool players from the elements.
Nestled between container plantings, a Balinese daybed creates a cozy spot for pool players and spectators in the game pavilion.
The "California cool" theme also appears in a retro-style surfboard that serves as a custom light fixture in the game pavilion.
A custom wood door creates a bold entrance, and a pathway made of tumbled-concrete pavers leads guests into the beautiful backyard.