The Marshalls wanted an outdoor area to cook, eat, and relax in, as a family and with guests. "We thought we'd just build a little deck," Linda says. Then they met with local garden designer Jan Enright and contractor Bryan George, and a grander plan took shape. Clearing away the space-hogging shrubs would make room for an expansive two-level deck and a covered outdoor room with a fieldstone fireplace at one end. Slate pathways and beds of vibrant blooms would liven up and unify the rest of the yard.
The result is an outdoor living and gathering space that is usable 10 months of the year, says John, who looks forward to hosting the couple's 50th high-school reunion—and more than 50 former classmates—this fall. But that won't end the party season. "With the fireplace," Linda says, "we'll be able to invite company to sit outside as late as December."
Shown: The patio sat on a corner of undefined lawn next to the garage and garden shed.