A Guest Room—and More—Outdoors
An overgrown lot gets a generous deck and an open-air structure to become a three-season entertaining space
A big backyard isn't necessarily a sociable one. Take the quarter-acre lot behind John and Linda Marshall's 1946 home, in Statesville, North Carolina. It had plenty of lawn and a little patio with next to no seating, plus eyesores, like sprawling shrubbery and a chain-link fence. The space was uninviting enough to keep the couple from enjoying it themselves, much less with friends.
Shown: A large deck with a covered outdoor room, complete with a stone hearth and a lace-top brick wall, makes a great place for get-togethers.
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.
The building materials for the outdoor room echo those of the house. Some of the slate for the patio and pathways was found on-site.
The two-level deck of more than 800 square feet has several seating areas. The portion with the covered outdoor room has a cutout for an existing white 'Natchez' crape myrtle.
The grilling station, built from the same fieldstone as the fireplace, is located on a stamped-concrete patio nearly 30 feet from the deck to prevent smoke from wafting into the seating areas.
Homeowner tip: "We finished the grill island with a U-shaped granite countertop. It gives guests a level surface to set drinks on when they come over to chat." —John Marshall, Statesville, N.C.
An old pickling pot holds elephant's ears, 'Freckles' coleus, and 'Dragon Wing' begonias. Other flowering plants were chosen to lure butterflies and birds.
Aged-bronze sconces light the perimeter. Since the yard had electrical outlets on only one side, the contractor ran power around the deck to wire the whole room.
The raised center section of the new pressure-treated and stained pine deck connects the enlarged patio to the outdoor structure. The deck itself has two distinct levels, each with separate seating areas.
1. Replaced the original stone patio with a larger one of stamped concrete and slate, and added a grilling station.
2. Built in benches along each edge of the deck for extra seating.
3. Added defined plant beds, including a flower-filled butterfly garden.
4. Angled the outdoor room to create an uninterrupted sight line from the back of the house.
5. Constructed the fieldstone hearth and roofed area in space once occupied by overgrown shrubs.
6. Enclosed the property with a wall of brick that matches the brick of the house.