This Backyard Was Transformed Into a Tropical Oasis

Living in Minneapolis didn’t stop this couple from channeling their Southern California roots into a super-lush backyard.

Tropical Backyard in Minnesota

Backyard Landscaping With Tropical Vibes

This beautifully landscaped backyard features tropical plants and a waterfall.

Photo by: Adam Albright

Adam Albright

Indoor/outdoor living is second nature to Steve and Meghan Modrow, who both grew up in SoCal. Their house in Minneapolis didn’t allow for that until they bumped out the kitchen and opened up the back with sliding doors and windows. Now they can fully appreciate the backyard retreat that Steve, a landscape designer, created with tropical plants, a pond and stone and wood paths. Says Meghan, “It’s like a vacation right at home.”

The Details

All the plants in the bed just below the patio are hardy enough for the locale and will continue to fill in over time. The tropical varieties throughout the yard winter in Steve's warehouse. The multilevel water feature is oh-so-zen, with a koi pond below the waterfall that’s home to 30 fish.

Midcentury Modern Kitchen That Opens to Backyard

Indoor-Outdoor Kitchen With Midcentury Modern Style

This retro kitchen with orange barstools opens to a lush backyard.

Photo by: Adam Albright

Adam Albright

For style with durability, the couple went with limestone pavers for the patio. That 12-foot-wide folding window above the counter (made by Sierra Pacific Windows) stays open, weather permitting. “We use it a good six months out of the year — 55 degrees feels great after a Minnesota winter,” says Steve. While he and Meghan regularly have people over, they also enjoy cooking and eating in the open air when it’s just the two of them. Steve filled the big planter on the patio with a fiddle-leaf fig, caladium (it has pink leaves) and polka dot begonia. The orange stools are from Hayneedle.

Retro Kitchen With Mint Green Backsplash

Midcentury Modern Kitchen That Opens to Backyard

This retro kitchen features a mint green tile backsplash and a patterned floor. The best feature: it opens up to a lush backyard.

Photo by: Adam Albright

Adam Albright

After the Modrows expanded the kitchen, they updated it with a bright turquoise glass backsplash, sleek cabinets with pulls from IKEA and cool vinyl sheeting by Atrafloor. “We picked the flowerlike pattern and customized the scale to get the graphic look we wanted,” says Steve. The Dekton counter by Cosentino is ideal for indoor/outdoor use; it’s heat and UV resistant. Meghan’s collection of vintage Pyrex is pretty on the open shelves and handy for daily use.

Gray Board and Batten House With Yellow Midcentury Modern Door

Modern Gray House With Yellow Door

This remodeled exterior has cool, midcentury modern vibes.

Photo by: Adam Albright

Adam Albright

The front got a redo, too! Steve and Meghan preserved the cottage look of the house so it would fit in with others in the neighborhood, but they updated the siding to board and batten and added a sleek metal portico. The fab new door, painted Hep Green by Sherwin-Williams, complements the landscaping.

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