The initial scope of this project was to transform a typical Minneapolis lot into an outdoor oasis. The family wanted to create a usable space for private relaxation and entertaining. They envisioned elements of old world Tuscany that also complemented the architectural style of their home. Their wish list included an outdoor fireplace, grill, dining area, and pergola.
The existing conditions provided no usable entertaining space. A detached garage takes up a large portion of the backyard. A small area between the garage and house was overrun with an arborvitae hedge and a grass path provided tentative access around the house. There is a door off the sunroom adjacent to this space but the door was not functional.
The design investigation also revealed problems with flooding in the garage, and the discussion quickly led to how the homeowners would love to renovate the garage also; its dated utilitarian style did not have anything to do with their house or the Tuscan style they envisioned for their new landscape. Since the west wall of the garage created one of the walls for our new outdoor room, the garage renovation became integral to the landscape transformation.
The homeowners’ goals required thoughtful design considerations given the limited space available. The ultimate answer was to create a flexible courtyard that united the house, a rejuvenated garage and the rest of the landscape.
The courtyard became a flexible paved area for dining and grilling. The fireplace was placed against the garage wall, an efficient use of space and a reduction of cost, as one side would not need to be finished. A stone seatwall matches the fireplace details and provides overflow seating for larger gatherings and built-in seating along the dining table, if desired. The weathered limestone used for paving, fireplace and seatwall elicits a feeling of timeless old-world style. A cedar wood stoop at the newly-liberated sunroom door provides circulation options.
Reclaimed barnwood creates a rustic, weathered pergola framing the entire courtyard. A matching trellis screens the house utilities where a vine will eventually cross the entire pergola. Barnwood was repeated for the fireplace mantle and operational garage shutters. A portable gas grill is plumbed in two locations to give flexibility of use for larger gatherings.
The design vocabulary was extended to house back door and driveway. The original experience here was a jumble of concrete, brick, timbers, and stone. The existing concrete stoop was veneered with matching limestone to create a seamless transition from house to the rest of the landscape.
Aspen, boxwood, hosta and pachysandra create orderly, low-maintenance green edges for the space. Low voltage fixtures uplight the aspens and LED strip-lights under the wall cap glow across the patio. The lighting system and irrigation are controlled via an app on the homeowner’s cell phone.
We were responsible for the garage remodel, which followed the lead of the landscape design. All doors and windows were replaced to better complement the house. The homeowner is an avid container gardener so a windowbox matching those on the house was added under the north windows. Sconces were installed around the building on separate lines to add adjustable levels of ambience. The garage was raised to install a new floor, sillplate and waterproofing. The sagging roof was straightened and reinforced. Siding was replaced with stucco and gingerbread wood inlays to match the house. A new driveway was poured with stone borders matching the patio and walkways. A wood screen provides an attractive, accessible trash storage solution.
The entire landscape now comes together as a functional and complete idea of respite in the city. The material selections create a weathered, timeless space. The design process provided the opportunity to unite disparate parts of this property into a unique whole that the family will embrace for years to come.
- Landscape Award Winner 2018
The team at Ground One
Ground One Enterprises