Indoor room or outdoor space? It’s a little of both with this elegant backyard gathering spot.
Written By Stephanie Boyle Mays
Photography By David Papazian
AFTER YEARS OF APARTMENT LIVING, A BEAUTIFUL and utilitarian backyard was tops on the wish list of a Portland family. Steve Shapiro of Shapiro Didway Landscape Architects and Jennifer Leonard of Nifelle Design, both based in Portland, were brought in to transform a soggy, flat and bare-dirt corner yard into a viable outdoor space to serve the family of five.
After fixing drainage issues, Shapiro worked to bring privacy to the area and to link the landscape with the home’s traditional architecture. He planted more than 50 emerald arborvitaes and a selection of other trees along the perimeter to ensure seclusion; then filled the gardens with plantings such as hostas, star jasmine, daphnes, and Japanese roses that provide white blooms from early spring into fall. Inside the yard, he created two gathering areas: one at the north end for family and entertaining from spring into late fall and a second closer to the house for reading a book or enjoying a quiet conversation. Between the two is a grassy area where the couple’s three children can play and practice sports. A winding bluestone path connects all the areas and stylistically links the home’s classic architecture and landscape designs.
A basalt fireplace custom built by Stone Sculptures of Vancouver anchors the north-end gathering area and guarantees warmth during chilly weather. A sectional sofa and ottoman, designed by Leonard and manufactured by Terra Furniture, were built to withstand the whimsies of Portland weather. Framed in aluminum with a teak finish, the sectional’s seat cushions are upholstered in a Sunbrella textured weave in linen and sesame; custom pillows are likewise covered in durable Sunbrella fabrics. The dining table and chairs, also designed by Leonard and manufactured by Terra Furniture, are similarly constructed of aluminum with a teak finish. The backs and sides of the armchairs are upholstered in Desert Cane wicker sling fabric. All the seat and sectional cushions are lined with waterproof fabric to ensure cushion integrity and protection from the elements.
The loveseat, chairs and stools in the more intimate sitting area closer to the house are from the Ventura collection by Gloster from Fishels in Portland. The charcoal–colored Sunbrella upholstery is complemented by throw pillows in a striped Sunbrella fabric. Coffee and side tables are in polished concrete from Currey & Company (available to the trade). Frost-proof gardenias planted in tall matte black fiberglass containers provide a finishing touch in a sweetly scented backdrop.
THE RIGHT PICK Jennifer Leonard of Nifelle Design custom designed the sectional, ottoman, dining table and dining chairs to be impervious to Portland weather while also being welcoming. The colors and fabric weaves chosen complement the teak stain of the aluminum furniture while providing textural interest.
ALL AGLOW Built by Stone Scuptures of Vancouver, the freestanding basalt fireplace is the focal and gathering point for the north end of the yard. The allure of the fire also helps extend the area’s use by the homeowners and their children from early spring into late fall.
MAKING IT WORK The seating and dining areas at the yard’s north end were designed for both family and friends. A large sectional and ottoman invite family members and guests to take a seat and enjoy conversation and the garden. The nearby dining table sees frequent use for family dinners and dinner parties.
CONTRACTOR: Hammer & Hand, hammerandhand.com
INTERIOR DESIGN: Nifelle Design Fine Interiors, nifelledesign.com
GLOSTER FURNITURE: Fishels, fishels.com
LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT: Shapiro Didway Landscape Architects shapirodidway.com