When your backyard has been custom designed as an urban oasis by a team of professionals, there’s no need to escape the city on the weekends. For a family with a teenage boy at home and two other sons back from university for the summer, this means more time to enjoy chilling out together on those super-hot days, and sometimes the not-so-sunny days!
The modern home on a large corner lot in Wellington West Village was a stunning new build a few years ago. It was designed by Ottawa architect Roderick Lahey, who created a master plan for the property that included integrating the outdoors for maximum use and enjoyment in all types of weather. Recognized as an expert in urban intensification projects, his design and orientation ensured amazing views from inside the home as well as full-day sunlight for the backyard.
A pool was important to the homeowners in their “backyard of light,” but more for its cooling-off benefits than lap swimming. The 12 x 25 foot fibreglass pool is five feet deep to provide all the fun water activities they need, in addition to being an attractive focal element. Installed and serviced by Guy Robert Landscape & Design, who also did all the surrounding stonework, the heated, easy-clean pool is even pet-friendly with its gradual step entry.
Perfectly positioned for catching some rays in private, a cedar lounge deck is attached to one end of the pool, while the outdoor dining area at the other end is conveniently accessed by the kitchen patio doors. The covered stone patio with an outdoor kitchen is the favourite hangout for everyone in the family and all their friends. A cedar accent wall behind the BBQ matches the wood-panelled ceiling to enhance the rustic, natural elements of the welcoming stone patio that overlooks the pool and has open sight lines of the entire L-shaped landscape.
For added privacy, a cedar fence in a semi-transparent grey stain encloses the backyard. Lined with hydrangea bushes, ornamental trees and grasses, the soft greenery and flower planters provide an ideal balance to the hardscape features. Designed by landscaper Karla Caraway of Nature’s Way Design, who has a long-term working relationship with the busy homeowners, she knows their preference for low-maintenance landscaping with a natural approach.
INSIDE TO OUTSIDE DESIGN
The final touch to a beautiful backyard that really has it all is to light it up in all its glory. In addition to multi-colour pool lights, the backyard has built-in lighting for a magical ambience at night for partying or just quiet time. It’s a year-round feature that can also be enjoyed from inside the home on cooler, wet or snowy nights.
Another landscaping feature that can be appreciated inside and out is the design of the terraced window wells. The architect suggested installing two tiers of stone with greenery and flowers inside the deep window wells, so the rockeries can be viewed from the lower level bedroom and family room windows, as well as from the main floor. It transports the splendour of nature to the back and front of the house.
On a practical note, the backyard also connects directly to a mud room entry. Here, wet people and dogs can conveniently clean up in an open shower unit and adjacent separate washroom with everything they need to change without dripping water or bringing too much of the outdoors into the indoor living space.
Even the pool heater is contained in a smart garden shed where the same high-efficient system heats the driveway, walkways and basement flooring in the winter. It’s much more cost-effective to install when building from the ground up, and yet another advantage of having a professional master plan for the whole property.
Not only does the backyard offer the family the private pleasure of an all-weather urban oasis with its large covered patio and combination of soft and hardscape features, but the outdoors perfectly reflects the interior home design. Both present open-plan concepts and defined spaces with warm, natural elements to create a very functional high style that flows beautifully from indoors to outside.