Location: Windsor Farms, Richmond, Virginia 23221
Key Features: This project consists of a 14’ x 14’ Custom Pavilion, Gas Fireplace, 600 Square Foot Patio, Outdoor Television, New Driveway with Brick Apron, Custom Shed, Refurbished Water Feature, Low Maintenance Landscape, Outdoor Lighting, and Mallin Casual Furniture.
Over the years, the backyard of this Windsor Farms property provided the family with open space for fun and memories. As often happens, the children got older, schedules got busier and the backyard suddenly went unused and unmaintained. With their children no longer in need of an open yard for playing, the homeowners decided it was time to upgrade the backyard and create a unique space for the family to gather and create new memories.
When the homeowner called Outdoor Dreams, the landscape had become overgrown and invasive bamboo had completely overtaken a small water feature that had been built by the client years ago. Along with the overgrown landscape, the property included an undersized, failing patio and crumbling shed that hadn’t been used in years.
The final design completely transformed the backyard, featuring many exciting elements. The main feature of the space is a pavilion-covered patio with outdoor fireplace and television. Along the edge of the patio is a rebuilt water feature that adds a relaxing ambiance to the space. A unique steppingstone walkway connects the patio with a new driveway, parking area, and custom shed. The backyard is tied together with a new landscape that completes the relaxing and natural atmosphere. To comfortably enjoy the space, the client chose the New Haven 7-piece sectional sofa and dining set from Mallin Casual Furniture.
BIGGEST OBSTACLE: UNWORKABLE SOIL AND IMPROPER DRAINAGE
Working in Central Virginia, we are accustomed to dealing with terrible soils. This project, unfortunately, faced a larger issue because the entire backyard sloped towards the house and the existing patio did nothing to control runoff. The result of this improper water management was years of runoff going towards the house and resting against the foundation. Upon removing the existing patio, we found soil conditions that were completely saturated and unworkable.
Unlike standard poor soil situations, this area was so saturated that it could not simply be amended to achieve proper density. To responsibly build a foundation that could be backed by our lifetime warranty, all the saturated soil had to be fully removed. This meant that we had to excavate an additional 3-5-foot-wide, 18-24 inches deep trench along the foundation of the house. Once the saturated soil was removed, the area was lined with a woven, geotextile fabric and filled with compacted, clean 57 stone.
Along with properly removing the unworkable soil, it was also important to make sure the new patio properly handled the runoff and drainage. To do this, we designed the new patio to slope away from the house towards a center drain to collect the water. This drain ties into a system that collected water from all the gutter downspouts and takes it all the way to the street, far away from the house foundation.
THE PERFECT SETTING FOR GAME DAY…AND MORE
The pavilion-covered patio and fireplace was the centerpiece and driving force behind the project. Fans of multiple sports, the clients wanted a unique space where they could sit and enjoy a game, no matter the sport or season. The fireplace had to be large enough to hold the outdoor television and warm enough to make the space usable throughout the year. Additionally, the clients came into the project wanting the ease of a gas fireplace; with fire only a click away, they knew a gas feature would entice them to use the space more often.
The pavilion structure was included in the space to help control the environment and enhance the ambiance. Whether a surprise rain shower or the intense sun of a summer day, the pavilion structure protects anyone enjoying the space. The pavilion also provides the structure necessary for mounting speakers to enhance the television experience and a fan that helps to control the temperature of the space. Additionally, cove lighting has also been installed to light up the rafters, creating an unbeatable ambiance when the sun goes down.
The resulting space turned out even better than the clients had hoped, and they find themselves using it for more than just game days.
Like so many others in historic Richmond neighborhoods, this house did not feature a garage or driveway. Since moving into the house almost 20 years ago, the client and guests have always been forced to park on the street. Because of this, utilizing a portion of the backyard for a driveway and off-street parking was of the utmost importance to our clients.
The final design offered 3 parking spots and a driveway that could comfortably fit 2 additional cars without anyone being blocked in. Also included in the design was space for the clients’ trash cans and recycle bins. The driveway and parking were conveniently designed to incorporate with a new, custom shed, designed to match the style of the house.
Locating the off-street parking in the backyard also provides the potential to increase the use of the outdoor space. Most outdoor living spaces are in backyards, removed from the daily foot traffic. With this space, the clients pass through the space multiple times of day, increasing the enticement and its potential use.
MIXING IN NORTH AMERICAN NATIVES
Along with using numerous existing plants, the client expressed an interest in also incorporating native plants into the design. Because native plants are adapted to local environmental conditions, they require far less time, attention, and water to properly maintain. Along with lower maintenance, native plants also help to provide for a balanced ecosystem, providing food and shelter for wildlife and organisms. The final design featured a landscape composed of approximately 60% plants native to North America, including a mix of trees, shrubs, and perennials. As with most landscapes featuring native plants, the finished space has a relaxed and natural atmosphere.
GETTING THE FURNITURE RIGHT
When it came time to furnish the space, we provided layout options that showed our clients several different furniture setups that fit in the space. For the pavilion covered patio, the client chose to go with a 7-piece sectional sofa because it offered the most seating and flexibility. When picking the collection, the clients weighed aluminum and woven options from Mallin and Kingsley Bate. After providing samples from various collections, the clients decided to go with the transitional design of Mallin’s aluminum New Haven Collection. Along with the sectional set, the clients also bought matching sling dining chairs as well as Trinidad dining and end tables. As the photos show, the furniture set up was designed and selected to perfectly fit the space.
Patio: BLU 60 Slabs from Techo-Bloc (Shale Grey), Antika Pavers from Techo-Bloc (Shale Grey)
Steps and Walls: Mini-Creta Architectural from Techo-Bloc (Shale Grey) and Architectural Caps from Techo-Bloc (Shale Grey)
Stone Veneer: Hillshire Rustic Ledgestone from Natural Stone Solutions
Plant Combination: ‘Moonglow’ Juniper, ‘Alice’ Oakleaf Hydrangea, ‘Moonbeam’ Coreopsis, Goat’s Beard, ‘Cinnamon’ Fern, ‘Hayscented’ Fern, ‘Boursault’ Catawba Rhododendron, ‘Shamrock’ Inkberry Purple Coneflower, ‘Wintergreen’ Boxwood, ‘Plum Pudding’ Heuchera, ‘Rosanne’ Cranesbill, and Pachysandra.