Clever design makes the most of the room you have.
Short on space doesn’t mean short on use. In an area barely 25 feet deep and 50 feet wide, owner Yandell Wideman of Jackson,
Mississippi, enjoys three distinct spaces that give him what he wants--a truly livable backyard. What makes it so? Start with
a place to have a drink and watch the game, add a location to dine, and then finish with a spot to relax by the fire.
Landscape architect Rick Griffin of Griffin & Egger Landscape Architects gets credit for transforming what had been a boring, empty yard. “The cheapest thing you can ever purchase is good advice,” notes Yandell. “Rick took one look and immediately knew what to do.”
First on the list: Divide the yard into three separate outdoor rooms, each with its own function. This makes the yard seem
bigger because each room is a destination. Guests enter the yard through gates on either end or through glass doors connected
to the kitchen. The latter option brings them to an outdoor extension of the kitchen, outfitted with a gas grill, a granite-topped
bar with stools, and a wall-mounted TV. A roofed arbor gives shelter from sun and rain, while ceiling fans keep the air moving.
To the left is the dining area, which is clearly defined by a table and chairs sitting on a painted wooden deck. Behind the table rests a spa. A few steps to the right of the bar is the fire pit. An outdoor fireplace, decorated with items Yandell acquired in the Southwest, dominates this sunken garden room.
Rick didn’t mind the input. “I like to get clients involved in the design,” he explains. “I tell them, ‘Go find me stuff.’ ” Yandell complied. What look like tiles adorning the fireplace’s mantel and the arch above the firebox are actually masonry coasters he bought in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He found the copper platter that’s atop the mantel while on a skiing trip to Aspen, Colorado. Twin bottle trees crafted by a local artist are mounted on either side of the chimney. They never fail to start people talking. “I wanted them because bottle trees have a lot of history in Mississippi,” says Yandell. “People say they scare off evil spirits.” A heavy metal tray serves as an anchor for the iron trunks and branches.
Yandell couldn’t be more pleased with the way things turned out. “A lot of times, we’ll have cocktails and hors d’oeuvres by the bar and watch TV. Then I’ll start cooking, and we’ll move to the dining table,” he says. “Finally, we’ll move over to the fireplace for after-dinner drinks and more conversation. It’s a nice way to spend an evening.”