Outdoor Living: Making the Most of Smaller Spaces

Your clients can live big in smaller outdoor spaces. Here are some keys for successfully doing so.

authors Patrick O'Toole | September 16, 2020

For remodelers who enjoy designing outdoor living projects (or even those who don’t but who get involved in them because a client asks), the task, no matter how many times they’ve done it, requires a different mindset.

Where indoor spaces come with inherent limitations—namely door openings, bump-outs and closets—outdoor spaces are often bigger, lacking any limitations at all. An open expanse of trees and grass can be tough to wrap your head around.

BEFORE

Christopher Grubb, an interior designer well-known for award-winning kitchens and baths, recently took on this outdoor living project and then entered it into the 2020 Qualified Remodeler Master Design Awards, where he came away a winner with a silver award in that category.

The outdoor project came about because a longtime client asked Grubb, owner of Arch-Interiors Design Group Inc. of Beverly Hills, California, to fully program the yard of his home, located in the Hancock Park section of Los Angeles. Grubb said its space limitations aided the decision making and helped everything flow.

“Like any project, we first determine the client’s inspiration,” Grubb says. “At that point, it really starts solidifying: ‘I can fit in this and this, but how can I make the rest of his wish list happen when we really don’t have enough space?’ I felt that it would be important to have a mix of hard surfaces and soft surfaces with greenery interspersed, instead of an all-concrete solution. From that perspective, the project was exciting and fun. Outdoor living is a whole different part of your brain from a design standpoint.”

The Program and Solution

Previously, Grubb’s design team remodeled the home’s interior spaces, including a room that came to be known as “the pool room” with French doors facing the yard. The client’s goal, he says, was to create the ultimate oasis—a salt-water swimming pool, hot tub, fire pit, shower, outdoor bar and kitchen, and space for lounging, sitting and dining. The client also sought a space filled with shades of green and blue. To get everything into 1,705 square feet, the first step was to put everything on the same plane, so there was no step down from the house. Dirt from the pool excavation was utilized to achieve this result.

For the kitchen, the owner wanted refrigeration, grill, sink, food preparation area and a bar. Grubb concealed an existing electrical behind a cabinet and arranged appliances for ease of use. A trellis and pergola helped define the space. Extensive LED task lighting allows for cooking after dark.

Green and blue tile was used throughout the pool, jacuzzi, shower and even along the kitchen backsplash. With so many elements to incorporate, there was less space for the landscape elements the client requested. A row of hedges completes a quadrangle and create privacy. Grass was planted around large, square stepping-stones that lead to the hot tub.

The decking material is made with Resysta, a mixture of rice husks, common salt and mineral oil. Containing no wood at all, Resysta makes use of an abundant byproduct of rice farming. Thus, producing the material doesn’t contribute to deforestation. It’s a LEED-certified material that is 100 percent recyclable. Unlike wood, Resysta is water-resistant and will not crack or splinter, resulting in a much longer life span. QR

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