Fireplace Alfresco

A garage gets an upgrade with the addition of a cozy seating area that can be enjoyed year-round.
Todd Childs

It was meant simply as shelter for an old SUV, but now this space is the family's favored weekend destination. The two-bay carriage house has taken a backseat to the outdoor fireplace and seating area, which actually began as an afterthought.

Subtle Style
Homeowners Fred and Becky Crum wanted their carriage house to do two things: blend architecturally with the main house without looking like a miniature version of it and get his Bronco out of the elements. Landscape architect David N. Brush took those edicts and created a multifunctional structure that doesn't draw attention away from the surrounding landscape. Aside from housing vehicles, the garage embellishes its environment with rich cedar siding and cypress doors. But it is the garage's tendency to blend into its surroundings that makes it a standout success. Vine-covered trellises and arbors soften the structure and redirect attention to the sheltered seating area.

The Perfect Solution
"I didn't want the carriage house to be a dependency," David says. "I loved the idea that this building could take on a life of its own." He suggested the addition of the outdoor fireplace. Good call, we say. The seating area and fireplace blend seamlessly with the garage through the use of architectural cues taken from the main structure. The vaulted pitch of the arbor mimics the lines of the garage roof and makes the garage more background than feature.

The brick chimney helps to draw the eye up, creating height and keeping the attention on the fireplace, which features a mix of fieldstone and brick for added interest. The entire seating area is elevated, improving views of the pool and surrounding property. A ceiling fan under the arbor assures year-round comfort. "It exceeded our wildest expectations," says Becky. "We absolutely love it." How much? They sold the Bronco two years ago.


"FIreplace Alfresco" is from the September 2007 issue of Southern Living.