Don designed an arbor that links the outdoor areas to the family room. He placed the arbor directly in line with the double doors leading out of the family room so that when guests walk outside, they look through the arbor to see the yard beyond. This creates the illusion of an ongoing vista, despite the lawn's relatively small size and irregular shape. "The arbor is a good example of how hardscape elements, designed on the right scale, can make a yard look much larger," says Don.
A movable awning covers the gas grill and lounge chairs so that this area can be used in rain or in the middle of a summer day. A nearby sink makes the grilling area complete. "The interaction between the inside and the outside is essential," says Don. "We used large shuttered doors and windows to create a transformable space."
The last outdoor room the team created was the lawn on the back side of the arbor. "We started with an odd-shaped lot, sort of like a wedge," says Paul. "The lawn fits into this space perfectly and naturally ends at an existing Bradford pear."
To surround the grass, Paul picked plants that help create the sense of space he was looking for and don't require too much maintenance. All the plants he selected are perennials--and for a good reason. "Mobile's growing climate allows an extended season of color from shrubs and perennials," he says. "We don't need a lot of annuals to add accents to a landscape. I think a yard has a bigger impact if these accents come from the bones of the landscape instead." With these flushes of seasonal color, the intriguing series of outdoor rooms, and the smell of fresh fish on the grill, this garden is definitely worth sticking around for.
"Create an Outdoor Party Room" is from the June 2005 issue of Southern Living.