Barely-There PorchSurrounded by breathtaking red rock mountains, Nancie Plum and Eric Shrode's Sedona, Ariz., home has some of the most dramatic views in the U.S. But they can't see them past the overgrown foliage that blocks their tiny front patio. Their home also suffers from an almost nonexistent entryway, a haphazard hardscape and a side yard that's more like a junkyard. With a budget of $30,000, Nancie and Eric challenged designers Jim Law, Linda Deir and Dan Wetzel to transform their combined patio and carport into an outdoor living and entertaining space, and to create a landscape that lives up to their beautiful surroundings.
Nancie and Eric's home is surrounded by eye-popping scenery, but their entryway is almost invisible. Their well-hidden front door opens out onto a pokey front porch with barely enough room for a few lounge chairs. They want to transform this space into an outdoor extension of their living and entertaining space. As the third generation to live in this family home, they also want to make their own mark on the outdoor spaces.
Outdoor Living RoomInstead of a boring walk-through, Nancie and Eric's front entryway is a destination in its own right: The old patchwork hardscape – brick, flagstone and cracked concrete – gives way to copper-stained concrete and a meandering pathway covered in Balinese rock. Comfortable furniture beckons visitors to the expanded patio, which is painted to match the coppery concrete. These warm colors, organic lines and touches like potted jasmine plants help integrate the new patio with the surrounding natural beauty.
Mountain HavenNancie and Eric chose Jim Law's vision for their high desert home. His plan makes the striking scenery part of the living space, both by revealing dramatic vistas and by creating outdoor living areas that integrate the desert mountains. In addition to expanding the front patio and creating a dramatic walkway, Jim's design converted half of the carport into additional living space. Other destination spaces include a firepit flanked by two water features to define the far edge of the terrace.
Concrete CarportNancie and Eric joke that their cars have the best views in the house, and they find themselves spending evenings at the edge of the carport to get a clear view of the mountains. But their carport lounge area is about as inspiring as...a carport. They asked Jim to come up with a way to use this space without feeling like they're in a garage.
Sophisticated BistroThe couple can forget about the cars as they toast the sunset from their open-air bistro seating area. Complete with a custom-built wine cooler — covered in the same Balinese river rock as the front walkway — the space features a partition wall painted with a mural that echoes the surrounding scenery. The entire room is designed to blend seamlessly into the front patio, and a pass-through allows them to get to the cars easily.
Side-Yard JunkyardThis strip of ground alongside the carport is this troubled landscape's biggest problem — so much that Nancie couldn't even talk about it. She and Eric want to transform this overgrown clutter-catcher into a parking area they can be proud of.
Posh ParkingA thorough clearing and cleaning did wonders for this wasted space, which Jim's design incorporated with the rest of the landscape. The stained concrete parking pad matches the rest of the coppery concrete in the design and gives a perfect parking surface. The wooden pergola and touches like a rain chain — a stylish replacement for a downspout — make the space feel more like a garden area and less like a garage.
Aggressive GreeneryMost people don't think of the desert as having a lot of greenery, but overgrown foliage is choking off Nancie and Eric's beloved views. It also puts artificial distance between them and the views. Ironically, having too many plants is actually distancing them from nature.
Wide Open SpacesWith the brush cleared away, the mountains seem almost close enough to touch. Seating at the edges of the project area give Nancie and Eric a dramatic backdrop for family photos and plenty of destinations for their nightly toast to the sunset.