Road trip meets backyard design

The smartest design decision we ever made was hiring designer Evan Braun, general contractor Pat Kilroy, and landscape designer Craig Boelsen from Pacific Coast Landscape for a simple and smart backyard remodel.

When your house is a mere 1400 square feet, viable outdoor space becomes key. So about five years ago we embarked on the aforementioned remodel. We wanted to open up the backside of our house to the yard and increase the flow throughout. We live in a shotgun style California Ranch: the living room, dining area and kitchen are all on the west side of the home. The shotgun hallway heads east with three bedrooms and two baths rotating along both sides. I'm not sure what the original architect was thinking when he designed these track homes some 50 years ago because they can be somewhat claustrophobic. I'm sure he was thinking something but what it was exactly is unclear. Anyway, we needed more space and took the big plunge to push out.

The backyard's inspiration came from our annual Northern California road trip where, one year, we explored the downtown square of Healdsburg. I fell in love with this water feature at the Hotel Healdsburg. Somehow that over-sized trough reminded me of the hot San Fernando Valley summers we spent as kids horseback riding in Hansen Dam and Griffith Park. Originally I thought the water vessel was an old livestock trough converted into a fountain. Turns out the trough was actually fabricated for the hotel by Andrea Cochran Landscape Architects.

Below is the funky, more affordable version...which Craig designed for us and I love.

A view of the deck below, not quite finished.

And the final, final -- with plants growing in and olive trees taking over.

We spend a lot of time out here on sunny days. Sometimes I have my coffee on the bench before the morning ramps up. Thanks to this team, we have truly increased our living space.


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