outdoor dining set on backyard patio
Photo: Lisa Romerein
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3. Rely on hardscape (cont.)

Dividing the backyard into three distinct "rooms," the design gives each a slightly different elevation and paving material underfoot. The poured-concrete floor of the dining area is largest; level with the floor of the house, it connects via a wood deck accessed by two sets of doors. On one side of it sits the outdoor kitchen, which is paved with broken flagstone surrounded by softer-looking decomposed granite. On the other side, a step leads down to the fireplace area, which is paved with the same slate tile as in front, and a small ribbon of decomposed granite outlines the sitting wall and surround. This area steps down to the patch of lawn, the smallest and lowest "room"—fitting for the section most closely rooted to earth. "The step-ups are subtle," says Lopez, "but they really do make the space seem bigger." The poured concrete and mortared stone just need a quick sweep for cleaning. The decomposed granite might need to be replenished with a couple of new shovelfuls once a year.
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