The homeowners, recent East Coast transplants, were looking for an outdoor space that embraced not only California outdoor living, but took particular advantage of the East Bay Area’s friendly climate. An additional pressing issue was an upcoming wedding celebration to be held in the rear yard.
New patios allow for casual and more formal entertaining of groups both large and small, while remaining cozy and soft enough to draw the homeowners out into the space for quiet weekend lounging. Embracing the great Alameda weather, as well as California’s frequent drought conditions, the planting scheme is entirely California Native, while the hardscape materials and overall design echo the timeless beauty of the Victorian home.
With the existing vegetation providing privacy from the road, the focus was to create a front yard whose beauty not only greets the homeowners and their guests upon entrance, but also serves as a private retreat.
The finished design is all about juxtapositions: the client’s Mexican heritage and love of succulents surrounded by the East Bay Area’s dense Oak woodlands; the cool tumbling water of the tiered fountain encircled by drought-tolerant plantings; the hard edges of poured concrete pavers abutting the curving lines of the gravel pathways that give way underfoot.
The existing site was nearly all concrete with little greenery, and the space went very under-used for entertaining. A new raised patio, combining colored concrete and mortared flagstone, was installed. This patio, with its seatwalls and fountain wall framing its perimeter, creates a comfortable space for the owners to enjoy their morning coffee while reading the newspaper. Vertical elements were given a rough stucco face with bold colors, including the old wooden shed.
This same flagstone treatment was used to create a large patio for outdoor dining and lounge space. A rustic look to the potting shed helps this generally utilitarian feature feel more part of the finished design. Detail elements, such as the hand-made steel column planters, water features, and decorative pots, add to the space’s cozy feeling.