Here is a problem that almost every homeowner has faced at some time or another. Laureen Lynn loved her Mobile, Alabama, neighborhood and loved her house, but she just didn't have enough room to entertain the way she wanted. But before marching out into the yard and sticking a "For Sale" sign in the ground, she contacted architect H. Don Bowden to see if there were any alternatives. It was a good call. Don brought in landscape architect Paul Fontenot, and, with their collaborative brainstorming, they soon solved Laureen's problems.
Room To Grow
The idea was simple. Don and Paul proposed creating four outdoor rooms that would give Laureen's guests plenty of space to spread out and enjoy pleasant Southern evenings. These outdoor rooms would flow seamlessly from the inside of the house so that all she had to do was open doors to create more entertaining space. "Each room now leads into the next, inviting guests to continue exploring the yard," says Don. "While all of the outdoor rooms are small, they're partially hidden from one another so that guests naturally want to go see what's beyond the bend."
The key lies in creating an illusion that makes Laureen's backyard look much larger than it actually is. "I've seen lots of yards that feel cramped when they're broken into outdoor rooms," says Paul. "What makes this one work are the vignettes that make you think the yard goes on and on."
The first area the group considered was the carport. Laureen had already used the space for overflow dining, so Don just built on the concept. "We added mahogany window frames and a shuttered door for a more finished look, and we put down a woven polyurethane rug to provide a cozy feel while still allowing Laureen to park her car," says Don. "Next, we added clear plastic, roll-down curtains with black Sunbrella panels to cover the carport's large openings and glass inserts for the window frames so she can use the space year-round."
Room Two--Driveway Patio
From the carport dining room, guests can easily stroll to the driveway patio. "We scored and stained the concrete of the driveway to break up the space visually and make it seem more like a patio than a driveway," says Paul. Laureen added wooden outdoor furniture that she can remove to create additional parking.