“It’s the most wonderful time of the year”
And for me it truly is, Spring Time. The air is, crisp and dry. The sun is shining just a little longer each day as all God’s world starts to awake from its winter slumber. Those outdoor spaces take on more purpose now. With excitement we ready our decks and patios, and laden our planters and gardens with new and familiar plantings for summer. The arrival of spring is indeed a wonderful time of the year.
As I reflect on spring and my home’s outdoor spaces, I think about my pergola. It was there way before we bought the house. I can remember when I first became enamored with it. I must have been in my early twenties when it caught my eye, this pergola that was so enchanting and elegant. It was a piece of architecture that had a fairytale or whimsical effect. In some ways like an Greek folly with it’s strong white Doric columns that held up a graceful arbor. It sat regally on the East facade of the house and opened the main living room to the wonders of the outside. When I, on occasion, would drive by the house I dreamt about who had sat under it and been caught under its spell in times past. They too must have enjoyed it’s beauty. I felt sure it must have been a place for much laughter and merriment.
I’ve always felt it important to seamlessly bridge the inside with the outside and this house already had that. The pergola was the gateway to the outside. On one side it was connected to the living room and with the new interior changes it now was connected to the dining room and to the kitchen. The house now flows in and out with ease from one space to the next.
During the renovation we added a connecting breezeway to a new garage . It made the yard around the pergola feel more like a courtyard. With the addition of a small knee wall and a schip laurel hedge at the streets edge this area of our yard has definitely become an intimate and private space.
I felt this new courtyard needed a focal point. I designed a large contemporary fountain to rest against the garage wall, flanking it with shuttered windows for warmth. Boxwoods, ferns and mondo grass were the foundation for the beds. A friend’s and family entrance was created. This feature was important to me so that all those close to Danny and I would feel welcomed to enter directly into our kitchen. To soften the walk, small strips of grass were inlayed through the concrete adding to a more contemporary feel of the space.
For extra enjoyment during the spring and fall we added an exterior fireplace under the pergola, and surrounded it with large comfy chairs. It’s here where many an early evening you can find Danny unwinding from his day sipping a whiskey and smoking an occasional cigar. A dining table sits under the covered area of the terrace and is used for most of our meals during the warmer weather. This East courtyard has served well for entertaining.
The garage addition cut the large backyard in half making two very lovely courtyards. The West courtyard is a quieter space which also opens to the kitchen and our master bedroom. It is here where we installed an outdoor grill and cooking area. This terrace and courtyard are used mostly when we entertain. It’s a great place to set an extra bar. The extra wide steps continues to open to the formal yard below. At the end of the lawn stands Titania, a large bronze statue of the queen fairy in Shakespeare’s play “ A Midsummer Night’s Dream”. Her backdrop is the original garage of the home. Harvey Jones, a prominent historical architect, called it “a little Greek temple”. We added a trellis of pyracantha, its evergreen foliage and delicate white flowers in the spring and vibrant red berries in winter has been the perfect plant for this outdoor wall.
A well designed exterior or interior living space does not simply become a great space by being artfully or functionally designed. What makes a well designed space a great space is one that has a studiously crafted personality. One that will excite and bring emotion to all that walk into it.